Meaning, Principles, Theory, Characteristics & Functions of Management

Meaning, Principles, Theory, Characteristics & Functions of Management

There is no human endeavor that does not require proper management for its proper functioning. All types of organizations government establishments, business enterprises, hospitals, cooperatives, churches, whether profit making or non-profit making, require good management to function effectively.

Managing is one of the most important human activities that permeate all organizations. Whenever people work together for the attainment of a predetermined objective, there is a need for management that is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the aims and objectives of the organization are realized. It is the manager's responsibility to ensure that every member of the group contributes his best.

To get people put in their best efforts, the manager has to understand people, their emotional, physical and intellectual needs. He has to appreciate that each member of the group has his own personal needs and aspirations and that these are influenced by such factors as ethnic, social, political, economic and the technological environment.


Meaning of Management

Different meanings have been attributed to the word "Management". Some people see it as referring to a group of people. They think of a management team or a group of individuals in an organization.

Management is also seen as a process demanding the performance of a specific function. Here management is a. profession. To a student, management is an academic discipline. In this instance, people study the art of managing or management science.

According to the American Institute of Management: It is used to designate either a group of functions or the personnel who carry them out; to describe either an organization's official hierarchy or the activities of men who compose it: to provide antonym to either labor or ownership.

Management is defined as "getting things done through others." It can be more scientifically defined as the co-ordination of all the resources of an organization through the process of planning, organizing, directing, and controlling in order to attain organizational objectives.

Management is the guidance or direction of people towards organizational goals or objectives. It can also be seen as the supervising, controlling and co-coordinating of activity to attain optimum results with organizational resources.


Management as Art

Art is the imposition of a pattern, a vision of a whole, on many disparate parts so as to create a representation of that vision; art is an imposition of order on chaos. The artist has to have not only the vision that he or she wants to communicate, but also skills or craft with which to present the vision. This process entails choosing the correct art form, the correct techniques. In good art, the result is a blending of vision and craft that involves the viewer, reader, or listener without requiring that he separates the parts in order to appreciate the whole.

Art requires technical skill, and conceptual ability. An artist must possess the know-how in. order to create a desired object. To be a successful or creative artist, one has to understand the fundamental principles governing it. In the same manner, to be a successful manager, or top flight executive, one has to master the art of managing. When one sees management as an art, one thinks of creative ability and special aptitude to design or effect a desired result.

There are special areas of management that are not subject to the rigors of science. The manager as a result has to depend on past experience and judgment instead of depending on any testable technical knowledge as is the case in engineering, physics or survey. In special areas as human behavior, instances abound where the manager will rely on experience collected over the years through practical experience.

The application of this knowledge to individual situation is seen as an art for the acquisition was not subject to the rigors of science.


Management as Science

Frederick W. Taylor is known as the father of scientific management.

This title he earned by his pioneering efforts in attacking the traditional approach to management that tended to depend on intuition; past experiences or hunches. Scientific management uses the methods of science in making decisions and evaluating its consequences. Science attempts through systematic procedure to establish the relationships between variables and the underlying principles. Management is science, when it employs systematic procedure or scientific methods to obtain complete information about a problem under consideration and the solution is subjected to rigorous control procedures to ensure the correctness and establish validity.

It must be observed that the two are not mutually exclusive but complementary. A good manager must know the concepts and principles of management (management science) and also how to apply them in unique situations. A successful manager blends experience with science in order to achieve a desired result. One decision could involve both science and art in order to attain total result desired. The ability to use both judiciously makes for a successful manager.


Principles of Management

Principles are best seen as fundamental or general truth on which other truths depend. This implies a dependent and independent relationship. It is descriptive, prescriptive or normative.

Thus, a principle describes a relationship or what should be done if something else happens.

It is often difficult to formulate principles in management because of the difficulty in conducting controlled experiments. One of the most important variables – people, is not easy to control. Most of the principles of management in use today were developed by observation and deduction.

The major reason being that management principles are subject to change and interpretation than are the laws in the physical sciences.  One of the principles of management, “unity of command," states that "each subordinate should be accountable to one, and only one superior.” Sometimes this principle is violated especially when an organization has established well-defined superior subordinate relationships.

There is a need for principles of management. It helps to increase efficiency since the manager uses established guidelines to help solve his everyday problems.

Principles of management help in subordinate development. Without these principles, development would depend on trial and error. A Course in management development stresses the time tested principles formulated over the years by experience and experimentation. Fayol, after more than 40 years of practical business experience drew up his principles of management. The same is true of Taylor, Chester Barnard and Alvin Brown. Without principles, the understanding and development of management would be an arduous task.

One of the most important impacts of principles is that it has helped to promote research in management. Management is not 'an exact science; it deals with people whose behavior is unpredictable and complex.

Research is often difficult without some established principles. Most researches in management deal with tested facts to establish validity and reliability.


Concept and Theory of Management

Concepts are abstractions formed from generalizations .Concepts are the corner stone for the development of principles and theory. In reality, a concept is a commonly agreed upon definition of an object, event or process. The importance of concept can be illustrated by the fact that unless a concept is very clear to those who must Use them, knowledge cannot be effectively transferred to another person. The same word must mean the same thing to all the people. The words "management" and "organization" are typical examples. They do not appear to imply the same phenomena among various persons.

A scholarly grouping of concepts and principles creates a theory. A theory presents a framework of principles and concepts for the clarification of a theory. A theory presents in a formal manner interrelated principles. Thus the theory of management is the synthesis of the concepts and principles of management. We have as a result of this systematic synthesis many theories – organization theory, theories of leadership, theories X and Y, Graicunas theory and the like. Management theory attempts to present in a concerted manner loose facts about human behavior in organization.


Management as a System

The systems approach to management encourages management to perceive the internal and external environmental factors as an integrated whole. As a result of this systems concept, the manager views the physical, human, environmental and psychological facets of the job as linking to form an integrated whole. An example of a system is the motor car. The parts are assembled in a manner to produce a unified whole. Every system is made up of subsystems. For the system to function effectively, the subsystems must function effectively.

In a general sense, the human being is a complex system made up of subsystems such as the circulatory system, the auditory system, the locomotive system, and so on. These sub-systems are inter-dependence.

When any of them fails to function effectively, the entire system experiences a severe setback.

The systems concept is often used in business to highlight the interrelationship between the functional areas of management. These functional areas such as production, marketing, finance, procurement and personnel could be seen as the sub-systems. These functions must be properly coordinated for the enterprise to attain its desired objectives.

The functions of the manager could be perceived as managing the system. He is to create and define the objective of each sub-system and integrate the subsystems. The success of a manager goes beyond the "effective" management of any of the functional areas (finance, marketing, or production). He must not only strive to achieve the objectives of .each of the functional areas, but also attain integrated balanced company objectives. Failure to recognize this fact could make each system pull in the opposite direction and a common objective could not be attained. The interrelationship in a system could be demonstrated by a simple illustration. For the sales department to meet delivery dates promised to customers it has to rely on the production target, the purchases department must order enough raw materials. For the purchases department to order enough raw materials, the accounts department must make enough money available in time for the order to be placed and received on schedule.

The success of any system depends on the relationship between the system and its sub-systems. In a business organization, factors such as goal clarity authority relationships and the structuring of the subsystems could affect the performance of the entire system.

The systems approach to management recognizes that management system is a complex formal system organized to functional effectively and efficiently to achieve a desired goal. Where the system does not function as expected as a result of poor communication, personality clashes, poor or lack of goal congruence, the entire organization suffers.


Universality of Management

Management function is identical in all formal organizations whether it is a profit-making organization or a "non-profit-making organization.

All people who occupy management positions perform the same type of functions. They plan, organize, staff, direct and control. They get things done through and with subordinate. Their principal responsibility is to achieve organizational objectives through group efforts. .

The concept of the universality of management implies that all managers irrespective of their position in the organizational hierarchy perform at one time or the other identical functions. The concept also connotes that management know-how is transferable from one organization to another. Managers seldom perform the actual activities themselves.

Their functions are managerial, not technical. What managers do in organizations are the same:

1. Managers make decisions.

2. Managers focus on objectives.

3. Managers plan and set policies.

4. They organize and staff.

5. They communicate with subordinates, colleagues and superiors.

6. They direct and supervise by secure actual performance from subordinates.

7. They control organizational activities.

It is as a result of all these multiple functions that management has grown into a big profession.

The professional manager who occupies an important position in the organization, who thinks about the corporation and its health and growth.

The chief executive is, for example, a professional manager who .owes no allegiance to a function or specialty for his function is to guide and direct the company as an integrated unit, not in managing its separate parts.


Characteristics of Management

1. Universal

2. Goal-Oriented

3. Continuous Process

4. Multi-dimensional

5. Group activity

6. Dynamic function

7. Intangible force

1. Universal: All the organizations, whether it is profit-making or not, they require management, for managing their activities. Hence it is universal in nature.

2. Goal-Oriented: Every organization is set up with a predetermined objective and management helps in reaching those goals timely, and smoothly.

3. Continuous Process: It is an ongoing process which tends to persist as long as the organization exists. It is required in every sphere of the organization whether it is production, human resource, finance or marketing.

4. Multi-dimensional: Management is not confined to the administration of people only, but it also manages work, processes and operations, which makes it a multi-disciplinary activity.

5. Group activity: An organization consists of various members who have different needs, expectations and beliefs. Every person joins the organization with a different motive, but after becoming a part of the organization they work for achieving the same goal. It requires supervision, teamwork and coordination, and in this way, management comes into the picture.

6. Dynamic function: An organization exists in a business environment that has various factors like social, political, legal, technological and economic. A slight change in any of these factors will affect the organization’s growth and performance. So, to overcome these changes management formulates strategies and implements them.

7.  Intangible force: Management can neither be seen nor touched but one can feel its existence, in the way the organization functions.

Precisely, all the functions, activities and processes of the organization are interconnected to one another. And it is the task of the management to bring them together in such a way that they help in reaching the intended result.


Functions of Management

Management has been described as a social process involving responsibility for economical and effective planning & regulation of operation of an enterprise in the fulfillment of given purposes. It is a dynamic process consisting of various elements and activities. These activities are different from operative functions like marketing, finance, purchase etc. Rather these activities are common to each and every manger irrespective of his level or status.

Different experts have classified functions of management. According to George & Jerry, “There are four fundamental functions of management i.e. planning, organizing, actuating and controlling”.

According to Henry Fayol, “To manage is to forecast and plan, to organize, to command, & to control”. Whereas Luther Gullick has given a keyword ’POSDCORB’ where P stands for Planning, O for Organizing, S for Staffing, D for Directing, Co for Co-ordination, R for reporting & B for Budgeting. But the most widely accepted are functions of management given by KOONTZ and O’DONNEL i.e. Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing and Controlling.

For theoretical purposes, it may be convenient to separate the function of management but practically these functions are overlapping in nature i.e. they are highly inseparable. Each function blends into the other & each affects the performance of others.

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: It is the process of bringing together physical, financial and human resources and developing productive relationship among them for achievement of organizational goals. 

According to Henry Fayol, “To organize a business is to provide it with everything useful or its functioning i.e. raw material, tools, capital and personnel’s”. To organize a business involves determining & providing human and non-human resources to the organizational structure.

Organizing as a process involves:

a.         Identification of activities.

b.        Classification of grouping of activities.

c.         Assignment of duties.

d.        Delegation of authority and creation of responsibility.

e.         Coordinating authority and responsibility relationships.

Staffing: It is the function of manning the organization structure and keeping it manned. Staffing has assumed greater importance in the recent years due to advancement of technology, increase in size of business, complexity of human behavior etc. The main purpose o staffing is to put right man on right job i.e. square pegs in square holes and round pegs in round holes. According to Kootz & O’Donell, “Managerial function of staffing involves manning the organization structure through proper and effective selection, appraisal & development of personnel to fill the roles designed un the structure”. Staffing involves:

a.   Manpower Planning (estimating man power in terms of searching, choose the person and giving the right place).

b.   Recruitment, Selection & Placement.

c.   Training & Development.

d.   Remuneration.

e.   Performance Appraisal.

f.    Promotions

g.    Transfer.

Directing: It is that part of managerial function which actuates the organizational methods to work efficiently for achievement of organizational purposes. It is considered life-spark of the enterprise which sets it in motion the action of people because planning, organizing and staffing are the mere preparations for doing the work. Direction is that inert-personnel aspect of management which deals directly with influencing, guiding, supervising, motivating sub-ordinate for the achievement of organizational goals. Direction has following elements:

a.       Supervision

b.       Motivation

c.       Leadership

d.       Communication

Supervision- implies overseeing the work of subordinates by their superiors. It is the act of watching & directing work & workers.

Motivation- means inspiring, stimulating or encouraging the sub-ordinates with zeal to work. Positive, negative, monetary, non-monetary incentives may be used for this purpose.

Leadership- may be defined as a process by which manager guides and influences the work of subordinates in desired direction.

Communications- is the process of passing information, experience, opinion etc from one person to another. It is a bridge of understanding.

Controlling: It implies measurement of accomplishment against the standards and correction of deviation if any to ensure achievement of organizational goals. The purpose of controlling is to ensure that everything occurs in conformities with the standards. An efficient system of control helps to predict deviations before they actually occur. According to Theo Haimann, “Controlling is the process of checking whether or not proper progress is being made towards the objectives and goals and acting if necessary, to correct any deviation”.

According to Koontz & O’Donell “Controlling is the measurement & correction of performance activities of subordinates in order to make sure that the enterprise objectives and plans desired to obtain them as being accomplished”.

Therefore controlling has following steps:

a.     Establishment of standard performance.

b.     Measurement of actual performance.

c.     Comparison of actual performance with the standards and finding out deviation if any.

d.     Corrective action.

Coordinating: is an important feature of management which means the integration of the activities, processes and operations of the organization and synchronisation of efforts, to ensure that every element of the organization contributes to its success.

Types of Management

There are three broad categories of management styles: 

a.               Autocratic management styles

b.               Democratic management styles

c.                laissez-faire management styles

Autocratic management styles

This type of management follows a top-down approach, with one-way communication from bosses to employees. This is the most controlling of the different management styles, with the management making all workplace decisions and holding all of the power. Employees are treated as drones, to be monitored closely as they perform within clearly defined perimeters. Employees are not encouraged to ask questions, submit ideas, or share their thoughts on improving processes, and are in some cases actively discouraged from doing so. The subtypes of autocratic management style are authoritative, persuasive, and paternalistic.

a. Authoritative management style: In this style, managers dictate exactly what they require their subordinates to do and punish those who do not comply. Employees are expected to follow orders, not question the authority of management, and perform their tasks the same way each time.

Managers monitor the employees closely, micromanaging their performance without placing trust or confidence that their employees can achieve their goals without direct and constant supervision. These types of managers believe that without this supervision, employees will not operate successfully.

b. Persuasive management style: In this style, managers use their persuasive skills to convince employees that the unilateral decisions that the manager implements are for the good of the team, department, or organization. Rather than simply ordering employees to perform tasks, managers employing this style would invite questions and would explain the decision-making process and rationale behind policies. This can help employees feel as though they are a more trusted and valued part of the staff and are involved in key business decisions, leading to lower levels of resentment or tension between management and staff.

c. Paternalistic management style: In this style, the manager acts with the best interests of their subordinates at heart. Usually, the organization will refer to staff as ‘family’ and ask for loyalty and trust from employees. Management using this style will use unilateral decision making but will explain to employees that the decision-makers are working from a place of expertise, and thus, legitimacy. Decisions are explained to employees, but there is no room for collaboration or questioning.

Democratic management styles

In this style, managers encourage employees to give input during the decision-making process, but are ultimately responsible for the final decision. Communication goes both ways, top-down and bottom-up, and team cohesiveness is increased.  This process allows for diverse opinions, skills and ideas to inform decisions.

a. Consultative management style: In this style, managers ask for the opinions and thoughts of their team, consulting the viewpoints of every member of their team. The manager will make the final decision, but they will consider all of the information given by team members before they do so. This style is often used in specialized fields, where staff is experts and their input is needed for the management to make informed decisions.

b. Participative management style: In this style, managers and staff are all active members of the decision process. Staff is given access to more information about the company and its goals, and is encouraged to innovate solutions.

Management seeks the thoughts, ideas and opinions of staff, works together with staff to make decisions and then the company acts on them.

c. Collaborative management style: In this style, management creates an open forum for ideas to be discussed extensively before making decisions based on majority rule. Staff is empowered to take ownership of outcomes, which can lead to increased engagement, innovation and creativity.

d. Transformational management style: This style of management is agile and growth-focused.

Managers focus their efforts on pushing their staff to ever greater accomplishments through encouragement, pushing them past their comfort zones regularly, and consistently motivating their teams to raise their bar for achievements.

Managers work alongside with their employees, inspiring their team to ever greater efforts by demonstrating their own work ethic.

e. Coaching management style: In this style, managers see themselves as the coach and their employees as the valued members of their team.

The manager’s job is to develop and guide their team, putting their team’s professional development at the forefront of their priorities. Long-term development is valued above short-term failures in this style, and the manager wants to promote learning, up skilling and growing in the workplace.

 Laissez-faire management styles

In this style, management takes a hands-off approach to leadership.

Staff is trusted to do their work without supervision, and they are left to control their decision making and problem-solving.

Management is present at the delegation and delivery stages of work, but otherwise steps back and gives staff the freedom to control their workflow and outcomes. Management is only involved during the process if the staff requests their assistance.

a. Delegative management style: In this style, the manager is only present to assign tasks, although they still are responsible for tasks being completed successfully. Once the task is assigned, then the employees are empowered to do their work as they see fit.

After the task is complete, the manager steps back in to review the work and give advice about how to improve future projects.


b. Visionary management style: In this style, managers lead through inspiring their staff.

Leaders explain their goals and the reasons behind them, convincing their team to work towards executing their vision.

Team members are motivated by their manager, and then allowed the freedom to achieve their tasks with minimal interference. Managers will check in from time to time, but they trust that their shared vision will keep employees on track and produce good results.

Managers offer a lot of constructive feedback during and after the process to assist their employees, and make sure to give praise liberally.









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