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The Relevance of Henri Fayol’s Four Management Functions Essay

This essay serves to identify the similarities and dissimilarities of the work of two managers from two different organisations and the extent to which Henri Fayol’s management functions are relevant to their work. Manager 1 works at a Woolworths Food retail store at a shopping centre called Featherbrooke Village in Ruimsig, Roodeport, Johannesburg, South Africa. Woolworths is a South African based retailer that specialises in clothing, food, home ware and beauty products and was founded by Max Sonnenburg in 1930.

Today it has 400 stores across South Africa, Africa and the Middle East (Woolworths: About Us, 2013). Manager 2 works at Mugg & Bean which is located at the same shopping centre as the Woolworths Food retail store mentioned above. Mugg & Bean is a franchise restaurant chain that was founded by Ben Filmalter, in 1996. It is known for its generosity and value for customers.

Today it has restaurants across South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia (Mugg & Bean: About Us, 2013) Henri Fayol came up with five management functions which are known today as the four management functions of planning, organising, leading and controlling, and suggested that managers’ work is made up of these functions(Robbins,S et al, 2012; Lamond, 2003). Is management really just made up of these four functions or is there more to it? For Fayol, to manage is to forecast and plan, to organise, to command, to coordinate and to control.

To forsee and provide means examining the future and drawing up the plan of action. To organise means building up the dual structure, material and human, of the undertaking. To command means maintaining activity among the personnel. To co-ordinate means binding together, unifying and harmonising all activity and effort. To control means seeing that everything occurs in conformity with established rule and expressed command. (Lamond, 2003, p. 4) Planning involves formulating a plan to achieve the goals of the organisation in mind.

It involves beginning with the end in mind (Lamond, 2003). Manager 1 at Woolworths described planning as formulating a program on what product lines to get based on the customer type. This means that Manager 1 aims to satisfy the needs of Woolworths’ target market.. This means that Woolworths’ point of reference is what the customer needs and wants and then formulate a plan from that. Manager 2 from Mugg & Bean described planning, as getting as many customers as possible and providing the best food and best services. This is the end in mind that this particular manager has.

Manager 2 would have to draw up a plan that would help to achieve that very goal. Organising is the management function of coordinating employees with the work that they are supposed to be doing, deciding who gets to do what and how(Lamond, 2003). Manager 1 described organising as ensuring the right teams attend to the right goods while Mugg & Bean’s manager 2 described it as following recipes and standards a hundred percent. These descriptions both coincide with Fayol’s definition of organising in that the former focuses on coordination while the latter focuses on the ‘how’ part.

Leading is defined as the management function that deals with commanding delegating and motivating while being able to work with and through the organisation’s workforce (Lamond, 2003). Woolworth’s manager 1 describes it as carrying out daily meetings, planning activities, explaining daily goals and managing work in a positive and consistent way that creates challenging growth experience. Manager 2 described it as the process of training employees and providing incentives for good performance. This goes together with Fayol’s definition of leading.

Controlling is the process of comparing results achieved to set goals, and taking corrective action where necessary (Lamond, 2003). Woolworth’s manager 1 described it as scrutinising reports and communicating with planners, while Mugg & Bean’s manager 2 described it as the process of taking daily quality controls. Both are very effective in that, with the former, results are compared to the plans made by the planners, while, with the latter, daily quality controls are made to make sure that food and services meet the required standards, which also coincides with Fayol’s description of controlling.

As is evident by the information shown above and in the questionnaires, which was collected from the two managers, Henri Fayol’s four functions of management are relevant to the work of the two managers. However, the work of these two managers may not be as clear cut and Henri Fayol’s four management functions may not be as relevant due to the mere fact that each manager’s work may not be broken down by function only. The work of these managers may very well be described by the roles they play as according to Henry Mintzberg, which are categorised into interpersonal, informational and decisional roles (Robbins,S et al, 2012).

Henri Mintzberg argued that managers’ daily work can be categorised into Interpersonal roles (figurehead, liason and leader), Informational roles (monitor, disseminator and spokesman) and Decisional roles (entrepreneur, disturbance handler, resource allocator and negotiator) (Stephen J. et al, 1987). Henri Fayol’s classical theory of management suggests that managers’ work is made up of planning, implementing those plans and then sitting back to relax and wait to take corrective action where it is needed.

Henry Mintzberg argued that, however, managers are involved in several tasks and activities that need to be attended to, taking calls, responding to emails, communicating with inside and outside stakeholders as well as carrying out some of the lower level activities that the manager’s subordinates carry out (Mintzberg, 1975). This is evident in the fact that the Mugg & Bean manager 2 who is also the owner is involved in making sure that the best services and best food is provided which means sometimes carrying out the manual work themselves.

However, some of Mintzberg’s sub roles overlap which does not justify their separation and they are not focused on achieving organisational goals (Stephen J. et al, 1987). It may be somewhat difficult to try and categorise manager 1 and manger 2’s work by Henry Mintzberg’s roles because the particular tasks and activities are too many and some of them can not be identified as being any one of these roles. Manager’s work, on the other hand, may also be categorised by the skills the managers themselves posses and are required to use, as proposed by Robert L.

Katz, which are technical, human and conceptual skills (Robbins,S et al, 2012). In order for managers to manage effectively, they need to possess a mixture of these three skills, the proportion of each depending on the organisational level the manager is on (Peterson, T. O & Van Fleet, D. D). Henri Fayol’s four functions may also be irrelevant to the Woolworths and the Mugg & Bean managers, because, management has evolved over the decades, since Henri Fayol introduced his four functions.

Managers are no longer defined by just these four traditional functions and their work is much more flexible and process oriented. The argument is that managers are no longer defined by their ability to carry out their work as defined by Henri Fayol, but are defined by their ability to carry out processes that allow them to achieve particular organisational goals. These processes range from behavioural to organisation building processes.

This allows managers to take initiative, be proactive, be more flexible and be able to effect positive change in order to achieve organisational goals. Mugg & Bean’s manager 2 can describe ‘getting as many customers as possible’ as a behavioural process and can take initiative in order to make sure that that goal is met, as opposed to categorising it as part of Henri Fayol’s planning function which does not make room for anything other than planning. Chapman, J. A, 2010). In conclusion to the relevance of Fayol’s management functions, the basic role of a manger is still made up of these four functions and other theories of management such as Mintzberg’s management roles or Katz’s management skills are integrated within Fayol’s four functions. Fayol’s management functions are relevant to the management work of manager 1 and manager 2. What are the differences and similarities between manager 1 and manager 2.

While manager 1 the title ‘Operations and Foods manager’ for the Woolworths Food store, manager 2 is the owner of the Mugg & Bean restaurant. While manager 1 is very much involved in leading and controlling and has little to moderate involvement in the planning and organising functions, manager 2 is widely involved in all management functions. This is evident in the fact that the former is a first line manager employed by Woolworths and the latter is in fact the franchisee of this particular restaurant.

The function of management is the same regardless of rank of manager, organisation type or size. Both managers carry out the four management functions. It is the degree to which they perform each that makes their jobs different (Robbins,S et al, 2012). Management is made up of three components namely demands, constraints and choices. Demands are what the manager must do, Constraints are factors that may encumber what the manager can do and choices are activities the manager may do but does not have to.

Each of these differ in form with every manager because of the difference in organisational values and goals and because each and every individual is different in how they carry out their work, the demands they are given (or give themselves) and in the choices they make (Steart, 1982). This is evident in the difference in the examples of planning, organising, leading and controlling given by managers 1 & 2. Although all four functions are still being performed, each is different in each organisation because it has been customised to cater for the needs of each manager and organisation.


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