Functions, Levels and Emerging Challenges of Management - Principle of Management

Introduction to Management

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Functions, Levels and Emerging Challenges of Management

Functions of Management:

In every organisation, the managers perform certain basic functions. These are broadly divided into six categories viz., planning, organising, staffing, directing, coordinating and controlling. These are discussed basically hereunder. You will learn about all these functions in detail in the lessons to follow.

  1. Planning: Planning is deciding in advance what is to be done, when it is to be done, how it is to be done. It is basically concerned with the selection of goals to be achieved and determining the effective course of action from among the various alternatives. This involves forecasting, establishing targets, developing the policies and programming and scheduling the action, procedure, etc., Thus, planning requires decisions to be made on what should be done, how it should be done, who will do it, where it will be done, and why it is to be done. The essential part of planning consists of setting goals and programmes of activities.
  2. Organizing: After the plans have been drawn, management has to organise the activities, and physical resources of the firm to carry out the selected programmes successfully. It also involves determining the authority and responsibility relationships among functions, departments and personnel at various levels to ensure smooth and effective function together in accomplishing the objective. Thus, the organising function of management is primarily concerned with identifying the tasks involved and grouping them into units and departments, and defining the duties and responsibilities of people in different positions within each department for well coordinated and cooperative effort in the organisation.
  3. Staffing: Staffing is concerned with employing people for the various activities to be performed. The objective of staffing is to ensure that suitable people have been appointed for different positions. It includes the functions of recruitment, training and development, placement and remuneration, and performance appraisal of the employees.
  4. Directing: The directing function of management includes guiding the subordinates, supervising their performance, communicating effectively and motivating them. A manager should be a good leader. He should be able to command and issue instruction without arousing any resentment among the subordinates. He should keep a watch on the performance of his subordinates and help them out whenever they come across any difficulty. The communication system, i.e., exchange of information should take place regularly for building common understanding and clarity. The managers should also understand the needs of subordinates and inspire them to do their best and encourage initiative and creativity.
  5. Coordinating: Management has to ensure that all the activities contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the business as a whole. This requires integration of activities and synchronization of efforts. The heads of different departments should not treat each other as competitors but should work as organs of one body. As the proper functioning of every organ of a human body is important for a healthy body, the work of every department is important for the organisation as a whole. Managers should, therefore, see that everybody in the organisation understands its objectives and works in co-operation with others to achieve these objectives. This function of management is called co-ordination. It consists of harmonizing group effort so as to achieve common objectives.
  6. Controlling: This function of management consists of the steps taken to ensure that the performance of work is in accordance with the plans. It involves establishing performance standards and measuring the actual performance with the standards set. If differences are noticed, corrective steps are taken which may include revision of standards, regulate operations, remove deficiencies and improve performance.

Levels of Management:

There are certain levels of management with varying degree of authority and responsibilities. Some managers decide about the objectives of the business as a whole; some managers perform functions to achieve these objectives in different departments, like production, sales, etc, and some of the managers are concerned with the supervision of day-to-day activities of workers. Managers performing different types of duties may, thus, be divided into three categories:

  1. Top-Level Management
  2. Middle-Level Management
  3. Lower-Level Management

The following diagram will give you idea of different levels of management.

The diagram shows that the top level management includes Board of Directors and the Chief Executive. The chief executive may have the designation of Chairman, Managing Director, President, Executive Director or General Manager. This level determines the objectives of the business as a whole and lays down policies to achieve these objectives (making of policy means providing guidelines for actions and decision). The top management also exercises an overall control over the organisation.

The middle-level management includes heads of various departments, e.g., production, sales, etc., and other departmental managers. Sometimes senior departmental heads are included in the top management team. The objectives of the business as a whole are translated into departmental objectives for the middle level management. The heads of the departments then work out their own strategies so as to achieve these objectives. Middle level managers are particularly concerned with the activities of their respective departments.

The lower-level management consists of foremen and supervisors who look after the operative workers, and ensure that the work is carried out properly and on time. Thus, they have the primary responsibility for the actual production of goods and services in the organization.

These three levels of management taken together form the ‘hierarchy of management’. It indicates the ranks and positions of managers in the hierarchy. It shows that the middle level management is subordinate to the top-level and that the lower-level is subordinate to the middle-level management.

Emerging Challenges of Management:

The challenges of the management in the today’s context are as follows:

  1. Globalization of business: Globalization means flow of goods, services, informations, manpower etc across nations without any restrictions. Due to globalization, world is consider as the small village. The time and the place gap have been almost overcome by the help of new technologies. There is continuous exchange of new ideas, innovations, methods and techniques across nations.This bring both opportunities and threat to the business organization. A part from this, the regional agreement and World Trade Organization (WTO) boost up the competitive market and added more complexity to the manager’s job. Thus, managers need to understand the process of globalization and the competition it creates for them and should act effectively and efficiently to overcome such challenges.
  2. Technology: Technology is a major drive that changes the way the people think and act in their corresponding environment. Technological advancement in computers and other electronic data processing equipment have changed the whole system of managerial functions like planning, decision making, organizing, motivating, controlling. Thus, managers need to recognize and anticipate technological change and act according to capitalize the opportunities and neutralize the threats.
  3. Quality Assurance and Productivity: In today’s context, quality is considered as the ability to satisfy the customer. However, the human wants are every growing and providing the goods and service to satisfy their needs is bigger challenge for a today’s manager. The product and services must meet the expectation of customer in terms cost, time, and services delivered within the product. To improve the quality Total Quality Management (TQM) is being used in most of the organization, targeting continuous improvement programs that include all the stakeholders together with suppliers and customers. A part from this productivity is also becoming a major issue for today’s organization. Due to extreme competition managers are focusing in reducing the wastages in terms of materials, time and effort and thus enhancing the productivity.
  4. Ethics and Social Responsibility: Ethics is concerned with the moral principles or values that determine whether our action is right or wrong. Business must follow the ethics in their policies and practices. However, one of the major challenges for our managers is to decide on whether a certain behavior or action of employee is ethical or not. Thus, managers must understand the ethical norms and values and act accordingly. Social Responsibility is the duty towards society. The society includes all the stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, creditors, employees, owners, government etc. So, management must address the expectation of these stakeholders and fulfill their wants. Similarly, environmental issues, such as global warming, pollution, ecology distortion etc are becoming major challenges to be addressed effectively in the strategy and practices by the manger in an organization.
  5. Empowerment: Delegating the power to the employees is a major challenge to mangers in today’s context. People desire autonomy in their worksites, they want to take part in decision making and enhance their creativity in the organizations. However, ineffective handling of such delegation may de-motivate the employees and leads to employee turnover, absenteeism and stagnations in work. Thus managers should create self-managed teams or autonomous work groups to empower the employees.
  6. Work-Force Diversity: It refers to the mix of people from various backgrounds in terms of gender, race, ethnicity etc in today’s labour force. The participation of women and minorities has been increasing. Thus, the challenge for a manager is to accommodate these diverse groups of people by addressing different lifestyles, family needs and work styles.
  7. Learning Organization: Organization must be able to learn from the past and present scenario and formulate policies and practices accordingly. A learning organization is one that had developed the capacity to continuously learn, adapt and change. The challenge for the managers is to change their behavioural style and transform from the bosses to the team leaders.

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