Henry Fayol’s Five Management Functions

Introduction

According to McLean (2011), Henry Fayol proposed five functions of management namely: planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling. He emphasized the unity of command whereby every employee report to one boss (Almashaqba and Al-Qeed 2010). This ensures that the employees are not subjected to conflicting commands from different supervisors that could end up decreasing their productivity, and that of the entire organization.

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Furthermore, Fayol put forward fourteen management principles that can be used by the management to enhance the productivity of the organization. The major aim of this essay is to evaluate the relevance of Fayol management theories to current management practices. In this regard, this essay is going to look at the management functions as proposed by Fayol as well as some of the fourteen principles of management, which he postulated.

Literature review

According to Parker and Ritson (2005), one of the functions of management is the planning and forecasting function. Planning entails looking into the future and drawing up the necessary measures, which are going to ensure that the organization will achieve its objectives. In this regard, the management will need to evaluate the internal environment, and also to assess the strengths and the weaknesses.

Additionally, the management will have to evaluate the external environment to assess threats and opportunities. This function of planning is very important in the current business environment, which is increasingly changing and is characterized by high-level competition. For this reason, any organization must ensure that it plans appropriately to maintain and even increase its market share. It can be seen that planning is a very important function that can determine the success and competitiveness of any organization in the current era of globalization. However, one of the drawbacks of planning and forecasting is that it may diminish the ability of the organization to change its mode of operation in response to the changes that might take place because they might be too set in their plans.

Another function of management according to Fayol is to organize. This entails setting up the appropriate organizational structure that is going to be supportive of the organization’s goals and objectives (Parker and Ritson 2005). Also, the management will need to put in place the necessary measures that will ensure the optimal utilization of the resources at its disposal. This will go a long way in enhancing the productivity of the organization.

Good organization will also ensure that knowledge will permeate throughout the organization. Organizing also enables the management to hire the most competent employees who can be instrumental in enhancing the ability of the organization, to compete effectively in the increasingly competitive global market. Nonetheless, one of the disadvantages of organizing is that it could give rise to bureaucracy and red tape, which could impede fast decision making in the organization (Parker and Ritson 2005). However, in the current business environment, the ability to organize will be very instrumental in enhancing the competitive advantage of the organization, in that it will help in putting in place the appropriate business processes that will enhance the productivity of the business.

Carrol and Gillen (1987) adduce that management is also supposed to carry out the function of command. By command, the management guides the employees in ensuring the attainment of the goals and objectives of the organization. In the current business environment, the term commanding may have negative connotations in that it might sound dictatorial. However, at the time when Fayol was espousing his views, the managers were in full control of the organization, and the term commanding did not have the same implications as in today’s business environment (Carrol and Gillen 1987).

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As at that time, a participative management style had not as yet been adopted and the employees were expected to follow the directives of their managers without question. However, the term that is used in today’s management circles is leadership. Leadership is preferred to command in that it connotes participatory management, which takes into account the views of the employees before the implementation of any plan. Nonetheless, in the 21st century, the management will also need to perform the function command, though to a lesser extent. This will provide some direction to the employees in ensuring the achievement of the organizational objectives.

According to Carrol and Gillen (1987), the other function that was postulated by Fayol is that of coordination. Coordination ensures that all the activities and efforts of the organization are in harmony, and are geared towards the attainment of the organizational goals. This function is still relevant in the current management practice in that it facilitates the management to ensure that all the organization activities are not in conflict with each other, as this could impede the attainment of the organizational goals and objectives.

However, in the current management practice, this function has been incorporated in the function of organizing. Without carrying out the function of coordination effectively the organization’s ability to attain its objectives is greatly diminished. However, coordination is costly in that the management could incur additional costs in bringing together the management and employees to work on the modalities to ensure that there is coordination in the organization.

According to Dyck and Kleysen (2001), management should also perform the function of controlling. This entails ensuring that all the activities and processes of an organization are performed in conformity with the laid down regulations. Control is very essential for management because it helps the management to ensure that all the activities are done according to the budget and the timeframe within which those activities should be completed.

This will ensure that all the resources are used optimally and that wastage is greatly diminished. This will have the effect of increasing the revenues and the profitability of the organization. Control also ensures the subjugation of personal interest in favor of organizational goals. Also, the management can ensure that all the employees are working in conformity with the job descriptions. Control also ensures that any deviation from the plan is identified to rectify it. This will enhance the ability of the organization to achieve its objectives. Control also ensures that all possible distractions that could adversely affect the attainment of the objectives are addressed.

However, it must also be acknowledged that the function of controlling could result in a situation in which the organization incurs additional costs to ensure compliance. That notwithstanding, it can also be said that the function of controlling ensures that all the other four functions are effectively tackled by the management. This is because, without control, all the other functions cannot be successful as there must be a benchmark against which they are evaluated.

According to Almashaqba, and Al-Qeed (2010), one of the principles which were postulated by Fayol is that of the unity of command. The theory has it that the employees should receive orders from a single boss. This is because, without unity of command, the employees are likely to be subjected to conflicting commands from several bosses that could have the effect of diminishing their productivity. Unity of command also ensures that a superior is responsible for a particular employee. In the current management practice, unity of command is still very relevant. In this regard, the management has responded by reducing the reporting layers in the organization. Also, every employee is answerable to only one boss as stipulated in the job description.

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Lauren (2009) argues that the other principle that was adduced by Fayol is that of the unity of direction. This principle postulates that a particular plan for the organization should be entrusted to a particular person. This person should be held responsible for the success or failure of that project. This will ensure that the individual efforts are geared towards the successful implementation of that project. This principle also serves to strengthen the principle of the unit of command since the entire organization will receive directions from the same person. Also, this principle ensures uniformity of the activities which are undertaken by all the employees in an organization.

This is because all the employees are going to be following the same standards of procedure. The current management practice also advocates for that principle because it is very instrumental in making the employees to be dedicated and committed to the organization. This is very crucial in enhancing the performance of the organization.

According to Lauren (2009), the other principle of management is that of the subjugation of personal interest to the organizational goals. By this, the management propagates the view that the objectives of the organization should always prevail over the personal interests of the individuals in that organization. This helps in ensuring that all the employees work towards the attainment of the objectives of the organization.

Without this principle, the personal interests of the employees could come in the way of the attainment of the organizational goals and objectives. In the current management practice, this principle is upheld as it is very critical in ensuring the success of any organization. This principle is hinged on the fact that it is almost impossible to meet all the needs of the employees without compromising the ability of the organization to achieve its objectives.

Henry Fayol also proposed the division of labor (Heames and Harvey 2006). This is whereby an employee is assigned to a particular job that he is supposed to engage in every day. In this way, the employee learns skills that enable him to increase his output. This is because the employee develops accuracy, and ability because of specialization that narrows down the scope of his responsibilities.

The principle of division of labor is hinged on the fact that an employee cannot undertake all the responsibilities in the organization. The principle is still relevant in the current management principle which puts a premium on specialization. In this regard, every employee is assigned to a particular workstation to perform a specified responsibility in the organization. This has been known to increase the productivity of the organization. However, this principle is disadvantageous in that it may lead to boredom and monotony, which could have the effect of lowering the productivity of the employee.

The other principle as postulated by Fayol was on authority and responsibility. In this regard, responsibility should go hand in hand with responsibility. This implies that the managers should be responsible for the employees who are under their influence (Heames and Harvey 2006).

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As a result, the management should not be seen to escape responsibility in case there is a failure to attain its target. Responsibility ensures that the manager makes good use of the authority because he can be called to account for any deviation from the intended course of action. However, this principle might make the management to be reluctant in making tough decisions, especially those that have a high probability of failure, as they could be held responsible. This principle is very much relevant today and it can be exemplified in a situation in which some of the top level managers have been taken to task over some of their decisions, and some have even been forced to resign.

According to Crainer (2003), the other principle of management that was adduced by Fayol is the fair remuneration of the employees. This principle has it that the method of determining the wage rate should be fair. Also, the employees, or their representatives, should be involved in the negotiations for better pay. This would have the effect of creating an environment that is conducive for the organization to grow. Fayol also postulated that the worker should even be provided with residential facilities that provide a good quality of living for the employees.

This is supported by the assertion that this would serve as a motivating factor that could enhance the productivity of the employees. In the current management practice, this principle is observed in that the trade unions, which are the representatives of the employees, are involved in negotiations for better pay. This will ensure that fair remuneration practices are observed.

Conclusions

Henry Fayol’s management theories continue to be relevant in current management practices. As stated earlier, the objective of this essay was to assess the relevance of Fayol’s management theories in current management practices. In this regard, it can be seen that these theories are instrumental in enhancing the productivity of the organization. This is because the management that uses these principles will be in a position to motivate their employees.

Additionally, the functions of management as postulated by Fayol provide guidelines on the role of managers. For this reason, it can be seen that the roles of management include: controlling, coordinating, directing, commanding, and planning. These roles are very critical in ensuring that the organization continues to succeed in the current era of globalization.

Reference List

Almashaqba, Z and Al-Qeed, M 2010, ‘The Classical Theory of Organisation and its Relevance’, International Research Journal of Finance & Economics, no. 41, pp60-67.

Carrol, S and Gillen, D 1987, ‘Are the Classical Management Functions Useful in Describing Managerial Work’, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 12, no. 1, pp38-51.

Crainer, S 2003,‘One hundred years of management’, Business Strategy Review, Vol. 14, no. 2, pp 41-49.

Dyck, B and Kleysen, R 2001, ‘Aristotole’s virtues and management thought: an empirical exploration of an integrative pedagogy’, Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 11, no.4, pp 561-574.

Heames, J and Harvey, M 2006, ‘The Evolution of the Concept of the ‘Executive’ from the 20th Century Manager to the 21st Century Global Leader’, Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, Vol. 13 no. 2, pp29-41.

Lauren, S 2009, Rediscovering Fayol: Parallels to Behavioralist Management and Transformational Leadership. Proceedings of the Northeast Business & Economics Association. 2009, pp 196-199.

McLean, J 2011, ‘Fayol – standing the test of time’, British Journal of Administrative Management, Spring, no. 74, pp 32-33.

Parker, L, and Ritson, P 2005, Revisiting Fayol: Anticipating Contemporary Management, British Journal of Management, Vol. 16 no. 3, pp175-194.

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