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Management Functions

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Functions of management in every organization entail planning, leading, organizing, staffing, and controlling (Gunawan, 2010). Top-level management undertakes all these functions apart from staffing, which is usually conducted by the human resource manager in liaison with the heads/managers of the departments. Planning is a management function, which entails identifying the objectives and determining the best course of action for achieving them (Hales, 2001). The planning function of management requires that a manager should be a good decision maker and possess good analytical skills. This is because planning entails scanning the prevailing environment as well as forecasting the future conditions of an organization. This is to ensure that the organization achieves its short-term and long-term objectives in the best possible manner.

At Forward Travelers (my former employer), there are two different types of planning: strategic planning and operational planning. Strategic planning involves planning for matters that have a long period. These matters are those that concern the entire organization, specifically its competitive opportunities in the market. While conducting strategic planning, top-level managers develop the objectives of the issues concerned, identify the possible courses of action for achieving those objectives, choose the best alternatives, and then implement them for achievement of the objectives. An example of a matter that involves strategic planning in Forward Travelers is the opening of a new terminal in South Africa. This is four-year project and it is currently in its third year. The planning process started by scanning the internal environment of the organization to determine its ability to undertake the project, as well as the external environment in order to determine the feasibility of the project.

Operational planning entails planning of the day-to-day activities that result into achievement of the set objectives. It usually entails making short-term objectives and planning on how to achieve them. For example, in Forward Travelers, the project manager together with the assistance of other managers undertake operational planning whereby they plan for the daily, weekly, or monthly activities of the employees toward the achievement of the set objectives of the project, which include completion of the South African terminal by the end of the year 2013. Example of operational plans that have already been undertaken by the managers include preparation of the construction site for the new terminal, undertaking construction work (ongoing), marketing the new terminal, attracting existing and potential customers to use the terminal, and purchase new cargo and passenger planes. All these activities entail operational planning, which will lead to the achievement of overall objectives of the project.

Organizing function of management involves “developing an organization structure and allocating human resources to ensure accomplishment of objectives set during planning” (Gunawan, 2010). An organizational structure is usually represented by an organizational chart, which is a graphical representation of the chain of command within that organization. It allows to coordinate efforts of all organizational members in the achievement of organizational objectives.

Organizing also entails designing jobs in an organization (Gunawan, 2010). This involves making decisions concerning the duties of individual jobs as well as the manner of undertaking those duties. It also entails deciding how to group jobs in different departments. This is to ensure that all departments are allocated the relevant efforts to enable them undertake their activities thus effectively contributing to the achievement of organizational objectives.

To illustrate application of the organizing function of management, assume the previous example of Forward Travelers constructing a new terminal in South Africa. Here, the management of Forward Travelers has appointed a project manager and assigned his/her a group of employees to work with in implementation of the project. This group included an assistant project manager, project engineer, project officers (6), and an accountant. The management effectively organized this by developing a work breakdown structure because the company already had an organizational chart. The work breakdown structure provided a description of the tasks to be performed, when to be performed, and by whom. The structure also included the requirement that the individuals allocated the identified tasks were to use in order to achieve the project’s objectives.

For the development of a work breakdown structure to be effective, the management first designed the individual jobs in the project. This entailed identifying the duties and responsibilities of each individual job, then allocating them to the appropriate person. The duties and responsibilities were allocated to the individuals involved in the project according to their skills, abilities, experience, and expertise.

The leading function of management entails influencing or motivating organizational members to direct their efforts toward the achievement of organizational objectives (Hales, 2001). As a manager providing leadership to his/her subordinates, he/she should communicate with them effectively, motivate them, and effectively use his/her managerial powers. If managers are effective in providing leadership, their subordinates become passionate about directing their efforts toward the achievement of organizational objectives (Hales, 2001). For a manager to become effective in leading, he/she must first understand the personalities, attitudes, values, and emotions of his/her subordinates. This implies that managers must have good knowledge in behavioral science in order to provide effective leadership to their subordinates.

In addition, managers should have good knowledge of motivation theories in order to identify the most effective ways of motivating their subordinates. Good knowledge of effective communication is also very important aspect for a manager in developing his/her leadership skills. This allows him/her to communicate with the subordinates in an effective and persuasive manner. Moreover, knowledge of leadership styles helps managers to know the best leadership style to apply to their subordinates.

In Forward Travelers, all managers use democratic leadership style. This entails allowing employees to participate actively in decision-making as well as allowing them to undertake their duties and responsibilities without much bureaucracy. In the previously mentioned project, the project manager applies democratic leadership style by allowing employees to undertake their duties in the manner that they feel is the best for the accomplishment of organizational objectives. This implies that the project staff do not have to consult the project manager all the time when they feel that certain methods of undertaking their activities are appropriate. Based on this leadership style, the project members have been observed to be very responsible when undertaking their duties. This is because they are aware that they are responsible for their own actions. So far, the team members have been able to accomplish all the short-term objectives of the project for the initial stages of the project.

Besides, the project manager encourages employees to provide frequent feedback on their progress. The flow of communication among all the project members is open. There are restrictions on how an employee should communicate with the supervisors or managers. This encourages subordinates to give their opinions or suggestions as well as communicate with their seniors without fear of intimidation. The project manager in the ongoing project at Forward Travelers is very keen at rewarding the efforts of his subordinates. He usually commends them whenever they perform well. This is a good way of motivating employees to direct their efforts towards the achievement of organizational objectives. Overall, the project manager at Forward Travelers executes his leading function effectively.

Under controlling function, managers are responsible for ensuring that employees’ performance is according to the predetermined standards. This entails preventing performance from deviating from standards (Springer, 2005). Usually, managers execute the control function in three different steps: establishing performance standards, measuring performance, and taking corrective actions. Establishing performance standards entails stating the desired outcomes in various areas of an organization. Performance standards can be stated in quantifiable terms such as number of units produced, level of customer satisfaction, and number of defected units; or monetary terms such as expected revenues, profits, or costs (Springer, 2005). These standards act as the measurement units against which employees’ performance is evaluated.

Evaluation of employees’ performance can be done through performance appraisal, customer satisfaction survey, sales reports, financial reports, or production reports (Springer, 2005). The managers then use the results of performance evaluation to conclude whether corrective actions are necessary or not. However, this does not mean that corrective measures are not necessary if the performance of an employee meets the required standards. It is possible to apply corrective measures even when an employee’s performance meets the required standards in order to enable the employee to perform better (Springer, 2005).

Based on the previous example from Forward Travelers, the project manager executes the control function of management by undertaking performance appraisal of the project staff on a monthly basis. The performance of each project staff is measured against predetermined standards. For project engineer, assistant project manager, project accountant, and project officers, their performance standards are in monetary terms: to achieve monthly cost reduction in at least one cost driver of the project. The manager ensures that every employee receives feedback on his/her performance. When weaknesses are observed, the project manager discusses with the concerned employee about the problem and assists the employee to come up with the best corrective actions. So far, the manager has not employed negative measure such as dismissal, demotion, or suspension. Instead, the manager creates an environment whereby an employee whose performance is below the required standards is able to improve his/her performance in the best possible manner with limited restrictions.

Finally, staffing function of management entails recruiting and placing the right individual in an organization (Chandra, 2011). This is one of the most important and widest functions of management. It is important because human resources are the most important assets of an organization. Without the human resources, all other organizational departments cannot function. On the other hand, it is wide because it entails executing quite a number of staffing activities. They are recruiting, selecting, hiring, training and development, appraising, remunerating, and retaining employees (Chandra, 2011). Human resource managers in liaison with heads of departments who are in need of hiring an employee, usually undertake this function. Managers are required to be very careful when undertaking the staffing function because the types of people they hire will determine the output of the organization.

In reference to the expansion project of Forward Travelers, the project manager in liaison with the company’s human resource manager undertook the staffing function before commencement of the project. The project manager first identified the number of employees that the project required and the candidate’s requirements of each position. Then, the manager forwarded the details to the human resource department, and the recruitment process began. Forward Travelers recruited employees from both internal and external sources. Both the project manager and the human resource manager selected  potential candidates from the pool of applicants, interviewed them, and hired those that they felt were the best suited for the jobs. The newly hired employees went through an induction process and were later prepared for the project through training. As mentioned earlier, the project manager evaluates the performance of the project employees on a monthly basis. However, the human resource department evaluates the performance of all employees every year, including that of the project staff.

Functions of management in every organization include planning, organizing, leading, controlling, and staffing. Organizational managers have the responsibilities of executing these functions in order to ensure that all organizational members direct their efforts towards achieving organizational objectives. The case of Forward Travelers illustrates effective execution of the management functions by the company’s managers.

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