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Manager’s Function, Skills and Role Essay

This page investigates the skills, roles and functions of Management.

For any organisation to achieve the goals it has established and be successful it needs managers to correctly implement and understand the functions, skills and roles involved in the managerial process.

How these are applied will vary depending on what level of management a particular manager is involved in (high, middle, low) and the organisation.

Regardless of these two factors all management decisions focus on the efficient and effective use of resources for the benefit of the organisation, in the direction of its desired goals and/or objectives.

The Functions of Management

The four functions of management are planning, organising, leading and controlling (Davidson et al, 2009. p.13).

Planning involves reviewing the current situation and generating a plan that will allow the organisation to meet its established goals and objectives (Selley, 2009). This could entail generating a plan to increase profit and detail how this will be achieved (focus on capturing a larger market share or perhaps moving into a new market). Correct planning ensures there is a degree of focus, while also providing a structured timeline that relevant stakeholders can adhere too.

The second stage is organising, this is where management prepares for the task ahead by delegating resources and responsibilities, as efficiently and effectively as possible (Pakhare, 2011). During this stage management would consider the different departments and divisions within its organisation and provide authority and tasks as necessary.

An organisation that wants to increase its profit might use the organising stage to outline the roles of marketing (investigate and promote new market
share) and separate these from the accounting department (assess the viability by calculating projected sales and expenses) while also ensuring they all have the necessary resources to complete the work. Davidson et al. defines leading as the process of getting members to work together for a common interest (2009. p.14).

Leading requires a manager to have a positive influence on people while also inspiring them to complete their jobs (making this vital in low-middle management), this in turn improves their job performance through a positive work environment (Expert Manage, 2011).

It is important to establish this positive environment to ensure that deadlines set in the initial planning stage can be met and resources are not being wasted.

The final stage in the function of management is controlling, this stage is important in the establishment of performance standards and ensuring these standards are adhered too while also taking corrective actions against deviation. If for example deadlines are not being met the manager should investigate, if they this was due to incorrect original estimates relating to the workload required, the manager could increase staffing for the particular project.

Management has been described as a social process involving responsibility for economical and effective planning & regulation of operation of an enterprise in the fulfillment of given purposes. It is a dynamic process consisting of various elements and activities. These activities are different from operative functions like marketing, finance, purchase etc. Rather these activities are common to each and every manger irrespective of his level or status.Different experts have classified functions of management. According toGeorge & Jerry, “There are four fundamental functions of management i.e. planning, organizing, actuating and controlling”.

According to Henry Fayol, “To manage is to forecast and plan, to organize, to command, & to control”. Whereas Luther Gullick has given a keyword ’POSDCORB’ where P stands for Planning, O for Organizing, S for Staffing, D for Directing, Co for Co-ordination, R for reporting & B for Budgeting. But the most widely accepted are functions of management given by KOONTZ and O’DONNEL i.e.Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing and Controlling.| For theoretical purposes, it may be convenient to separate the function of management but practically these functions are overlapping in nature i.e. they are highly inseparable. Each function blends into the other & each affects the performance of others.

1. Planning

It is the basic function of management. It deals with chalking out a future course of action & deciding in advance the most appropriate course of actions for achievement of pre-determined goals. According to KOONTZ, “Planning is deciding in advance – what to do, when to do & how to do. It bridges the gap from where we are & where we want to be”. A plan is a future course of actions. It is an exercise in problem solving & decision making. Planning is determination of courses of action to achieve desired goals. Thus, planning is a systematic thinking about ways & means for accomplishment of pre-determined goals. Planning is necessary to ensure proper utilization of human & non-human resources. It is all pervasive, it is an intellectual activity and it also helps in avoiding confusion, uncertainties, risks, wastages etc.

2. Organizing

It is the process of bringing together physical, financial and human resources and developing productive relationship amongst them for achievement of organizational goals. According to Henry Fayol, “To organize a business is to provide it with everything useful or its functioning i.e. raw material, tools, capital and personnel’s”. To organize a business involves determining & providing human and non-human resources to the organizational structure. Organizing as a process involves:

* Identification of activities.
* Classification of grouping of activities.
* Assignment of duties.
* Delegation of authority and creation of responsibility. *
Coordinating authority and responsibility relationships.

3. Staffing

It is the function of manning the organization structure and keeping it manned. Staffing has assumed greater importance in the recent years due to advancement of technology, increase in size of business, complexity of human behavior etc. The main purpose o staffing is to put right man on right job i.e. square pegs in square holes and round pegs in round holes. According to Kootz & O’Donell, “Managerial function of staffing involves manning the organization structure through proper and effective selection, appraisal & development of personnel to fill the roles designed un the structure”. Staffing involves: * Manpower Planning (estimating man power in terms of searching, choose the person and giving the right place).

* Recruitment, selection & placement.
* Training & development.
* Remuneration.
* Performance appraisal.
* Promotions & transfer.

4. Directing

It is that part of managerial function which actuates the organizational methods to work efficiently for achievement of organizational purposes. It is considered life-spark of the enterprise which sets it in motion the action of people because planning, organizing and staffing are the mere preparations for doing the work. Direction is that inert-personnel aspect of management which deals directly with influencing, guiding, supervising, motivating sub-ordinate for the achievement of organizational goals. Direction has following elements:

* Supervision
* Motivation
* Leadership
* Communication

Supervision- implies overseeing the work of subordinates by their superiors. It is the act of watching & directing work & workers. Motivation- means inspiring, stimulating or encouraging the sub-ordinates with zeal to work. Positive, negative, monetary, non-monetary incentives may be used for this purpose. Leadership- may be defined as a process by which manager guides and influences the work of subordinates in desired direction. Communications- is the process of passing information, experience, opinion etc from one person to another. It is a bridge of understanding.

5. Controlling

It implies measurement of accomplishment against the standards and correction of deviation if any to ensure achievement of organizational goals. The purpose of controlling is to ensure that everything occurs in conformities with the standards. An efficient system of control helps to predict deviations before they actually occur. According to Theo Haimann, “Controlling is the process of checking whether or not proper progress is being made towards the objectives and goals and acting if necessary, to correct any deviation”. According to Koontz & O’Donell “Controlling is the measurement & correction of performance activities of subordinates in order to make sure that the enterprise objectives and plans desired to obtain them as being accomplished”. Therefore controlling has following steps:

* Establishment of standard performance.
* Measurement of actual performance.
* Comparison of actual performance with the standards and finding out deviation if any.
* Corrective action.

Management Skills

While a solid grasp of management functions is important management should also have a sound skill base, a report by Hay’s Group suggests this is a weak area for most individuals in management and is one of the biggest threats to business success (Financial Advisor, 2007).

These skills include but are not limited to technical, interpersonal and conceptual skills. “Technical skills are those necessary to accomplish or understand the specific work being done in an organisation,” (Davidson et al, 2009. p.19).

These technical skills are used mostly at the lower levels of management and are obtained through experience and training. An example of technical skills could be introducing and teaching a new accountant the accounting system used by the firm. Interpersonal skills focus on the ability to work with, motivate and communicate with other people (Hahn, 2007).

This skill is very important for managers to create a strong relationship between both individuals and groups within the organisation (Dale, 2008, p.121) this will ensure that there is trust and respect between these parties, allowing tasks to be completed effectively and efficiently.

The final core skill of management is conceptual thinking, this is the ability to consider a situation both abstractly and logically in order to come to the correct decision based on internal and external environments (Griffin, 2011. p.179). Globalisation has made this skill extremely important for managers (especially those in high-level positions), as they must be able to break-down and analyse information to make immense decisions that potentially have a worldwide impact.

Management Roles

Through numerous managerial roles the skills discussed above are put into practice.

Mitzberg’s observations and research suggest that a manger’s role can be split into ten roles and three categories; interpersonal (management through people), informational (management through information) and decisional (management through action) (Daft and Marcic, 2010. p.17). Interpersonal roles naturally form an important part of being a manager and relate to activities involving other people. Some interpersonal tasks could involve being a figurehead and speaking at important organisation ceremonies, motivating employees through leadership or serving as a liaison between different departments (Davidson et al, 2009. p.18).

Informational roles are focused on the processing of information, this could include seeking out information while also analysing and monitoring for relevant changes that apply to the organisation, communicating information to your co-workers or being a spokesperson on behalf of the organisation (MindTools, 2011). Informational roles require quick and thorough processing of information and resilience to information overload.

The final category is decisional which requires decisions to be made using the information provided. This could require developing innovate ideas, serving as a mediator to resolve conflict, allocating resources within the organisation and negotiating on the organisations behalf. A manager involved in a decisional role must have strong problem solving abilities, be able to prioritise and have good negotiation skills.

Reference List
Daft, R. Marcic, D. Woods, 2010, Understanding Management, 7nd edition, Cengage Learning.

Davidson, P. Simon, A. Woods, P & Griffin, R.W. 2009, Management: Core concepts and applications, 2nd edition, Wiley, Brisbane.

Expert Manage 2010, Four Functions of Management, viewed 23 August 2011,http://www.expertmanage.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=122&Itemid=166

Financial Adviser 2007, ‘Middle managers are lacking skills,’ 22 February, p.1

Griffin, R.W. 2011, Fundamentals of Management, Cengage Learning.

Hahn, M. 2005, Management Skills, viewed 24 August 2011, http://en.articlesgratuits.com/management-skills-id1586.php

Mind Tools 2009, Mintzberg’s Management Roles, viewed 23 August 2011,http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/management-roles.htm

Pakhare, J 2010, Management Concepts – The Four Functions of Management, Buzzle, viewed 22 August 2011,http://www.buzzle.com/articles/management-concepts-the-four-functions-of
-management.html

Selly, N 2009, How the four functions of management leads to business success, Helium, viewed 22 August 2011,http://www.helium.com/items/1586308-why-fayols-functions-of-management-can-avoid-failure-in-business-and-lead-to-business-success


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