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Critically examine the functions (elements or processes) of management proposed by Fayol. Explain why these functions are relevant (or otherwise) to today’s managers. The twentieth century has bought upon us a number of management theories which have helped to shape the overall view of management in the present environment of business. Many of those theories have stood the test of time and are still often referred to in the management world of today.
One of the most famous theories referred to in management is that of Henri Fayol.
Henri, a French engineer became somewhat of a hero for resurrecting a troubled mining company in which he worked, and turning it into one of France’s most successful businesses (Daft 2003). Born in 1841 and dying in 1925, Fayol spent most of his working life as a manager, where he drew upon personal experiences to facilitate in the creation of his theory of administration. In his most significant work, General and Industrial Management, Fayol discussed and identified five basic functions of management, which he believed every manager needed to perform.
These were: planning, organising, commanding, coordinating, and controlling. These functions, although have been condescended down to four; planning, organising, leading and controlling, still underline much of the general approach to today’s management (Draft 2003). Although, the usefulness of Henri Fayol’s classical functions have come under question about their relevance in current managerial activities by a number of professionals, Fayol’s functions still continue to shape and have underlining influence on the basis in which managers perform in the business world of today. Planning
If you have no particular destination in mind, it does not matter what road you take. However if you have somewhere in particular you want to go, then you have to plan the best way you can to get there (Robbins et al.2008). This phrase demonstrates the shear importance that planning has in managerial roles to an organisation. As organisations exist to achieve purpose, someone must clearly define that purpose and what is needed in order to reach achievement. That someone is management. Planning is the process in which managers use to identify and select appropriate goals and courses of action (Waddell et al. 2009). Without the definition of goals, the establishment of strategies to be used in order to achieve, and the development of plans that will be used to integrate activities, then an
organisation simply will not continue to exist. Managers, therefore today must be aware of the many circumstances that surround the organisation. For instance their environment, whether it is the general environment, the task or even internal, managers must be aware of the effects these areas could have on the organisation not only in the present but also for the future. With suitable planning and strategies put in place, managers can help the organisation avoid such extremes as bankruptcy, with strong planning efforts regarding direction and demographic trends, growth and acquisitions. Therefore the first function of planning, proposed by Fayol to any organisation is not only relevant to the world in which business operates today, but also the potential to add huge value to the current and future aspects of that organisation.
Managers today are responsible for arranging and structuring work to accomplish the organisation’s goals (Robbins et al. 2008). Typically following planning, organising is the process managers use to establish a structure of working relationships that allow organisational members to interact and cooperate to achieve organisational goals (Waddell et al. 2009). Today’s managers determine the tasks that need to be done, who is to do them, how the tasks are to be grouped, who reports to whom and what level decisions are to be made (Robbins et al. 2008). The relevance of organising to mangers today is to create structure, which is organised with all the necessary resources. With structure, managers give employees appointed tasks, lines of authority and decision responsibility. This in turn provides employees with a sense of ownership and control over their jobs and thus strengthens initiative from them (Yoo, lemak, Choi 2006), helping to create an organisation that achieves goals.
Fayol’s management concept of coordinating sees managers encouraging direct personnel activity. Coordinating is the laying out of timing and sequencing of activities and harmonizing them all (Fells 2000). Mangers that are able to maintain the balance between the activities of the organisation, are able to succeed in creating an organisation that can come together to face
problems of common interest that can surround different areas of the organisation, for instance, the many departments. The value of this concept is high, as managers from different areas within the organisation can band together and communicate as well as forecast possible problems, while offering short or long term solutions.
As the word commanding suggests, managers must take authority and put the desired plan into action (Fells 200). The value of commanding in managerial roles today is important and has relevance as managers verify whether everything occurs in conformity with the plan adopted, the instructions issue and principles established (Lamond 2004) that have been previously set.
After the goals have been set and plans are formulated, the structural arrangements determined, people are motivated, there has to be some evaluation of whether things are going to plan (Robbins et al. 2008) Controlling, is the function of managers evaluating how well an organisation is achieving its goals and taking action to maintain or improve performance (Waddell et al. 2009). This function is an important concept in organisational management as it demonstrates the successfulness of the organisation in terms of the achievement of goals that have been put in place by the managers. The value of controlling is extremely important, as managers are able to monitor what needs to be improved by comparing the information to performance standards and taking corrective action where necessary. Managers must ensure that the organisation is moving towards its goal and performance does not deviate from standards. Without control from managers organisational goals are not monitored and therefore many not be accomplished affecting the overall performance of the organisation as a whole, making control very relevant to the managerial positions in business today.
In conclusion, Henri Fayol’s principles of management provide and continue to provide a general management perspective for practicing managers today and an instructional tool for academics teaching in the field of management
(Yoo, lemak Choi 2006). Fayol has provided a general framework for practising managers (Yoo, Lemak, Choi 2006), by which the functions of planning, organising, coordinating, commanding and controlling have a bearing connection with the practicing of managers in any managerial position across a vast number of organisations, no matter the size or level. Therefore making Fayol’s principles an essential for building strong teams and stronger organisations in today’s Business environment.
Waddell, D, Devine, J, Jones, G & George, J, 2009, Contemporary Management, McGraw – Hill Australia Pty Ltd, North Ryde, NSW. Robbins, S, Bergman, R, Stagg, I & Coulter, M, 2008, Management 5 (Fifth Edition), Person Education Australia, Frenchs Forest, NSW. Daft, R.L, 2003, Management (Sixth Edition), Thomson Learning – South-Western United States of America, Mason, Ohio. Yoo, JW, Lemak, DJ & Choi, Y, 2006, ‘Principles of management and competitive strategies: using Fayol to implement Porter’, Journal of Management History, Vol. 12 No 4, pp.352-368, 23 July 2010, Emerald Research Database. Lamond, D, 2004, ‘A matter of style: reconciling Henri and Henry’, Journal of Management Decision, Vol. 42 No 2, pp330-356, 23 July 2010, Emerald Research Database. Fells, MJ, 2000, ‘Fayol stands the test of time’, Journal of Management History, Vol. 6 No 8, pp 345-360.
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