The Four Functions of Management: What Managers Need to Know

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While most positions and departments within a business are tasked with specific duties based on particular knowledge, expertise, or company needs, managers can have a broader and more complex set of responsibilities. More than just specialized knowledge, management requires an ability to navigate numerous procedural, structural, and interpersonal challenges in the process of guiding one's team to the completion of various goals.

Originally identified by Henri Fayol as five elements, there are now four commonly accepted functions of management that encompass these necessary skills: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling.1 Consider what each of these functions entails, as well as how each may look in action.

Planning

One main role of a manager is creating a plan to meet company goals and objectives. This involves allocating employee resources and delegating responsibilities, as well as setting realistic timelines and standards for completion. Planning requires those in management roles to continuously check on team progress in order to make small adjustments when necessary, while still maintaining a clear picture of a company's larger aims and goals.

Much of one's planning function consists of working independently to determine what responsibilities must be given to which employees, setting priority levels for certain tasks, and creating timelines. However, communication also plays an important role. For example, managers deal with planning when they meet with company leadership to discuss short and long-term goals, and when they communicate the specifics of a new project to their team or check-in periodically to ensure individual objectives are being met on time.

Organizing

Along with planning, a manager's organizational skills can help to ensure a company or departmental unit runs smoothly. From establishing internal processes and structures to knowing which employees or teams are best suited for specific tasks, keeping everyone and everything organized throughout daily operations are important functions of management.

Organization isn't just about delegating tasks efficiently and making sure employees have what they need to accomplish their tasks, however. Managers also need to be able to reorganize in response to new challenges. This could come into practice in the form of slightly adjusting the timeline for a project or re-allocating tasks from one team to another. Or, it could mean significantly altering a team's internal structure and roles in response to company growth.

Leading

Managers should be comfortable and confident commanding their team members’ daily tasks as well as during periods of significant change or challenge. This involves projecting a strong sense of direction and leadership when setting goals and communicating new processes, products and services, or internal policy.

Leadership can manifest itself in a number of ways, including recognizing when employees need an extra boost of reinforcement and praise to handling conflicts between team members fairly and decisively. Often, managers may function as leaders even during small personal interactions by modeling supportive, encouraging, and motivational qualities.

Controlling

To ensure all of the above functions are working toward the success of a company, managers should consistently monitor employee performance, quality of work, and the efficiency and reliability of completed projects. Control (and quality control) in management is about making sure the ultimate goals of the business are being adequately met, as well as making any necessary changes when they aren't.

How to Develop Key Management Skills

While some of the above functions of management can extend logically from experience and skills developed in entry-level positions, formal training and education may provide advantages. For instance, pursuing a business management degree can offer the opportunity to study management philosophies and best practices in order to help one prepare to pursue management positions following graduation.

Work to Develop Your Management Skills With an MBA

For those currently working in entry-level positions, seeking out a mentor at work and keeping an eye out for professional development opportunities can allow you to build the skills needed for management roles. Many people may also choose to return to school to pursue an MBA in order to help advance their business knowledge. Given that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will about 807,300 new management jobs created between 2016 and 2026,2 it may be sensible to hone your management skills.

Are you ready to take the next step? Learn more about online business degrees at AIU today.

1. “What Are the Four Basic Functions That Make Up The Management Process.” Houston Chronicle. Retrieved from: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/four-basic-functions-make-up-management-process-23852.html (Visited 04/29/18).
2. “Management Occupations.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/ (Visited 08/31/18). Conditions in your area may vary.

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