Managers have many functions in an organization. Traditionally, the term “management” refers to the set of activities, and often the group of people, involved in four general functions, including planning, organizing, leading and coordinating activities. Organizations often have 3 levels of managers. First-line managers are responsible for day-to-day operation. They also supervise the people performing the activities required to make the good or service. Middle managers supervise first-line managers. They are also responsible to find the best way to use departmental resources to achieve goals. Top managers are responsible for the performance of all departments and have cross-departmental responsibility. They establish organizational goals and monitor middle managers (jpkc).
There are four functions for managers to use to assist and ease in making decisions on goals and projects. Those functions are: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. All four functional areas are important and require attention for an organization to succeed. In regards to managing there is numerous projects that need focus and attention. Planning functional area of management is the first essential phase of the overall management process. What comes out of planning provides a need for the other functional areas of management: organizing, leading and controlling.
Planning is the process used by managers to identify and select appropriate goals and courses of action for an organization. Three good steps to planning are: Which goals should be pursued? How should the goal be attained? How should the resources be allocated? This function is used to determine how effective and productive the organization is and used in the strategy process of the organization. Planning, including identifying goals, objectives, methods, resources needed to carry out methods, responsibilities and dates for completion of tasks.
Examples of planning are strategic planning, business planning, project planning, staffing planning, advertising and promotions planning, etc (jpkc). Planning can be described as “specifying the goals to be achieved and deciding in advance the appropriate actions needed to achieve those goals” (Bateman & Snell, 2004, p. 15).
Organizing is the management function of assembling and coordinating human, financial, physical, informational, and other resources needed to achieve goals. Managers will group people into departments according to the tasks performed. They will also decide the lines of authority and responsibility for members. An organizational structure is the outcome of organizing. This structure coordinates and motivates employees so that they work together to achieve goals. In their work (“Management: The New Competitive Landscape,” 2004), authors Bateman and Snell define the organizing function of management as “assembling and Coordinating the human, financial, physical, informational, and other resources needed to achieve goals” (p. 15). Organizing resources to achieve the goals in an optimum fashion. Examples are organizing new departments, human resources, office and file systems, re-organizing businesses, and billing departments.
Leading is the management function that involves the manager’s efforts to stimulate high performance by employees. In leading, managers decide the direction to take; state a clear vision for employees to follow, and help employees understand the role they play in attaining goals. Leadership involves a manager using power in an assertive way, influence, vision, persuasion, and communication skills. The outcome of the leading function is a high level of motivation and commitment from employees to the organization. Leadership is a management functional area that can come into play early during planning, especially when it is evident that an idea needs to be communicated, gain support for a concept, or just simply communicate the nature of a project. Leading, including setting direction for the organization, groups and individuals and also influencing people to follow that direction. Examples are establishing strategic direction, vision, values, mission and goals, and championing methods of organizational performance management to pursue that direction (jpkc).
Managers who control are able to evaluate how well the organization is achieving its goals and takes corrective action to improve performance. They will monitor individuals, departments, and the organization to determine if desired performance has been reached. Managers will also take action to increase performance as required. The outcome of the controlling function is the accurate measurement of performance and regulation of efficiency and effectiveness. Control provides feedback by which daily activities can be directed toward achieving goals and objectives. As a manager, you receive feedback and able to make adjustments to improve productivity, identify and take corrective action, and take control when opportunities exist for growth. The manager controls the organization’s processes and structures to effectively and efficiently reaches goals and objectives. This includes ongoing collection of feedback, and monitoring and adjustment of systems, processes and structures accordingly. The management functional area of controlling consists of processes, procedures and indicators by which one can measure the degree of success or failure associated with an enterprise. Examples include use of financial controls, policies and procedures, performance management processes, measures to avoid risks etc. Another common view is that “management” is getting things done through others. Yet another view, quite apart from the traditional view, asserts that the job of management is to support employee’s efforts to be fully productive members of the organizations and citizens of the community.
As we enter into the new generation of management, there are new functions of management; they help to define the new reality of the workplace and the new partnership of managers and employees working together to meet common goals. They are: energize, empower, support, and communicate. Managers make things happen. They create energy instead of taking from the department and from the organization; they channel and amplify it back to the organization. Successful managers create compelling visions for their employees to strive for, and then they get out of the way. They delegate responsibility and the authority necessary to get a job done. To achieve their goals, managers depend on the skills that their employees offer them and their organizations. Increasingly, managers are becoming coaches, colleagues, and cheerleaders for the employees they support rather than prison wardens or executioners. The best managers allow their employees to make mistakes or to disagree with the status quo with no fear of retribution. Information is power and information must be communicated throughout an organization quickly and efficiently.
To most employees, the term “management” probably means the group of people (executives and other managers) who are primarily responsible for making decisions in the organization. In a nonprofit, the term “management” might refer to all or any of the activities of the board, executive director and/or program directors. Whatever the term, managers use the four functions to the best of their ability to accomplish many goals. It is up to each manager to also incorporate the new functions of management to energize and empower employees, to support them and communicate all necessary information within that organization.
Bateman, T.S., & Snell, S.A. (2004). Management: The new competitive landscape. (2nd
ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Jpkc. (2005). What is management? Retrieved November 23, 2005 from
Nelson, Bob. (2005). The new functions of management. Retrieved November 23, 2005 from