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Four Functions of Management Paper Essay

The four functions of management are planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. The term management has been used since the early twentieth century, and people such as Frederick W. Taylor, Henri Fayol, Max Weber, and A.H. Maslow all contributed to the evolution of management. The four functions of management are as relevant now as they were then. This paper will define and explain each function in today’s organizations.

Batman and Snell (2007) define management as “the process of working with people and resources to accomplish organizational goals.” Managers operate in a dynamic environment where things can change very quickly. A good manager must not only know how to do things right (efficiency), but also how to do the right things (effectiveness). Even when overwhelmed with a task, a manager must continue to focus on effectiveness and efficiency.

PlanningThe first function of management is planning. “Planning is specifying the goals to be achieved and deciding in advance the appropriate actions needed to achieve those goals” (Batman and Snell, 2007). Planning should engage all levels of management and improve decision-making. A successful manager should be able to plan effectively. Planning is about looking ahead, identifying a desired end point, and making decisions to reach that end point. Batman and Snell (2007) stated, “Planning activities include analyzing current situations, anticipating the future, determining objectives, deciding in what type of activities the company will engage, choosing corporate and business strategies, and determining the resources needed to achieve the organization’s goals.

“Part of Company X’s vision is to play a leading role in the nuclear energy renaissance in the United Kingdom while simultaneously improving the long-term reliability of its current power plants. Company X currently owns and operates nine power stations in the United Kingdom and employs 6,000 personnel. Planning plays a significant part in directing such a large organization. The company has developed a mission, vision, company business plan, and annual financial plan. Each department or business unit also has a business plan that is aligned with the company’s business plan. Creating a plan is one step towards success, but it also must be effectively implemented.

Organizing”Organizing is assembling and coordinating the human, financial, physical, informational, and other resources needed to achieve goals” (Batman and Snell, 2007). To accomplish an organization’s objectives, individuals are assigned to positions, and they are granted levels of authority and responsibility. People are an organization’s greatest asset, and organizing them to effectively and efficiently complete work positions the organization for success. “Organizing requires staffing the work division, setting up the training for the employees, acquiring resources, and organizing the work group into a productive team” (Allen, 1998).

The organizing function in Company X is strong. During the last five years, significant change has occurred at Company X, as the company has recovered from a position of near bankruptcy and adapted to a rapidly changing electricity market. Already Company X is anticipating the need for additional skilled people to staff new power plants and fill the vacancies at existing power plants caused by the increasing retirements of the aging workforce. Successfully training and organizing these new personnel will be a significant challenge for the company. A recent organizational change occurred which grouped power plants with similar technology together in one business unit to maximize the opportunities to learn and work together.

Leading”Leading is stimulating people to be high performers. It includes motivating and communicating with employees, individually and in groups” (Batman and Snell, 2007). Leading is providing direction and influencing people to follow. Individuals can be influenced by directing, delegating, coaching, mentoring, and selling. Leading requires close contact with people and requires that the leader has the right skills to influence people.

Company X continuously strives to improve its leadership. In such a complex technical environment, leaders rely heavily on individuals to solve very complex problems. When faced with a significant technical challenge, Company X temporarily assigns an inspirational and technically competent director to lead a recovery team to resolve the issue. In 2006, Company X shut down two nuclear reactors due to emergent technical faults that had never been encountered or anticipated. A director from the engineering function led a recovery team to analyze the technical issue, develop alternative solutions, and manage the chosen solution. The recovery team was motivated to think in creative ways to develop alternative solutions, and resolution required a company-wide effort to complete. After being shut down for a year, the power plants were re-started, and their performance has helped the company regain a position in the FTSE 100.

ControllingThe final function is controlling. “Controlling monitors performance and implements necessary changes” (Batman and Snell, 2007). This function determines whether plans are being effectively implemented. “Controlling is the final link in the functional chain of management activities and brings the functions of management cycle full circle” (Allen, 1998). The first step in controlling is establishing a performance standard. Without a performance standard, one has no benchmark from which to compare. After performance is measured, one determines whether that performance meets or exceeds the performance standard. If the performance fails to meet the performance standard, corrective action must be initiated.

To conduct work in the plants, Company X requires the use of operating procedures that include technical acceptance criteria. Through review of the operating procedure results versus the technical acceptance criteria, one can determine whether corrective action is necessary.

Company X also has company documents that detail the expected behaviors and actions of workers. Leaders periodically observe work in the plant to determine whether worker behaviors meet those expected standards. If not, the leaders help the workers to demonstrate the correct behaviors, usually through coaching.

To capture and resolve conditions that do not meet performance standards, Company X uses a corrective action process. This computer based process tracks the conditions from initial identification to resolution.

ConclusionThe four functions of management are planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. Each of these functions were described individually, but they all work together to ensure the success of an organization. Company X uses all four of these functions to effectively and efficiently supply the United Kingdom with 17% of its electricity.


Allen, G. (1998). In Supervision. Retrieved February 7, 2008, from, T.S.and Snell, S.A. (2007). Management: Leading and Collaborating in a Competitive World (7th ed.). [University of Phoenix Custom Edition e-Text]. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin. Retrieved February 5, 2008, from University of Phoenix, rEsource, MGT330

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