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Four Functions of Management: How to Implement Them in 2024

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Before we even begin discussing the four functions of management, let us start with a simple fact. If a job description hasn’t changed drastically in the past five years, that means either the position is obsolete, or there are some big mistakes being made in the field.

In a world where we create roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data every day can we really expect definitions and job descriptions to stay the same?

Another statement that would by no means be groundbreaking is that change is inherently scary. As kids, we had the luxury to lock ourselves into our rooms or go hide in a treehouse every time we were scared by change.

As adults, we do something even stranger. We immediately look to famous principles, phrases, and theories from a whole bunch of years ago and treat them like anchors to hold us down during these stormy times of change.

If there is a key figure in the field of management that fits this description, it is Henri Fayol. The “father of modern management theory” is an interesting figure, to say the least, and he will definitely get a blog entry of his own sometime in the recent future.

The five core principles he put forth, which would later become the commonly accepted four functions of management, are what we are aiming to inspect further in this particular entry.

While his work on management has definitely left its mark and can certainly be labeled trailblazing, we need to keep the simple fact that he was a manager in the 19th Century!

While his approaches are obviously outdated, his work still fits perfectly in the “Well-established information we hold on to during scary times of change” category. So, the best thing we here at Teamflect can do about the four functions of management is to present you with an updated way to approach and practice them.

Considering the fact that Fayol never had to deal with freelance employees or remote team management while mapping out his four functions of management, his article will discuss how these four functions can be fulfilled to their highest potential in the current landscape of management.

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What are the four functions of management?

Unlike Fayol’s 14 principles of management, which have definitely lost their relevancy over their heavy emphasis on the division of labor and strict hierarchies, his core functions of management have managed to stay relatively relevant throughout the years. So let us define 4 functions of management.

The primary functions of performance management include: planning, controlling, organizing, and leading. They are four central responsibilities a leader has to fulfill no matter which industry or organization they are a part of.

His initial functions included “Commanding” and “Coordinating” but these two were later merged into the “Leading” function.

The reason his 4 functions of management stayed more relevant than his 14 principles of management is how broad these functions are.

While his principles charted out specific approaches and courses of action, these functions have stayed broad and open to interpretation. That is exactly what we will be doing in this article. So let us dive right into the four functions of management, updated for 2023!

1. Planning function of management

four functions of management

The planning phase can include anything from employee development plans to resource allocation and goal creation.

This particular function of management includes managers practicing a lot of future thinking and forecasting in order to form plans and make decisions to carry the organization forward in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. There are four types of plans to be examined.

What are the types of plans?

  • Strategic Plans
  • Tactical Plans
  • Operational Plans
  • Contingency Plans

Regardless of industry, managers need action plans. There are four subdivisions within the planning function depending on various types of plans. Strategic plans are the long-term, foundational goals you wish to achieve.

Tactical plans are for the short term, along the lines of a year or possibly less. Operational plans are your day-to-day objectives and goals.

Finally, contingency plans are the niche, special plans managers make in the case of other plans failing or other unexpected circumstances.

One of the best ways to fulfill the planning responsibilities of leadership in the current era of management is by making the most of the tools available to you in the marketplace.

The four functions of management are much easier said than done in today’s world where teams are much larger, and more than likely remote!

That is why using software designed specifically for performance management could be the way to go. Streamlining your long or short-term goal-setting process with automated check-ins and goal/task alignment is the best way to modernize the planning function of management.

Best Practices Of Planning Function of Management

Best practices of planning function of management include:

Goal-setting: You have to approach the planning systematically to have the best outcome. The SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goal-setting framework will allow you to have a solid foundation when it comes to planning. You should also avoid ambiguity and specify the goals in qualitative terms.

Determining the planning premises: Premises are the foundation of planning. They involve thinking ahead, specifically where your plan might fail. With this practice, you are aiming to find possibilities that might cause deviation from the original plan.

Establishing an alternative course of action: After establishing the deviations from the original plan, it’s time to find the best alternative course of action.

Formulating secondary plans: Secondary plans go with the original plan and they don’t serve as an alternative. The aim of formulating secondary plans is to support the basic plan.

2. Controlling function of management

The controlling function of management might be the one that needs the most revamping out of the four functions of management.

The controlling function essentially consists of tracking and monitoring performance and progress through goals and management tasks. That being said, this should be a collaborative process between managers and direct reports.

In an era where even primary school students are expected to take responsibility for their own accountability, why should the modern manager have to stay on top of their direct reports, vigilantly monitoring tasks and progress?

Especially in large teams where a manager is responsible for the performance of a large number of employees.

A great way to approach the controlling function of management is through a project management tool through which employees can clearly see the tasks and goals they are responsible for and update them in automated intervals.

Best practices of controlling function of management

The best practices of this function include:

Measuring performance: If you are implementing a plan, you need to consistently monitor it. This initial practice involves measuring your performance and comparing your findings with your goals. If you measure the effectiveness of your plan, you will avoid problems such as financial loss and you will be able to take corrective action.

Determining a new route and taking action: If there is a discrepancy between your performance and your objectives you need to take corrective action.

Follow-up: After taking corrective action, you need to evaluate the situation and understand the root of the problem.

3. Organizing function of management

Among the 4 management functions, organizing function of management goes hand in glove with the first of the four functions of management we discussed in this article, planning. After the planning stage is complete the leader has to put the said plan into action.

This step can be a bit difficult in remote teams. If the members of the team are communicating through a channel such as Microsoft Teams, then their leaders should certainly be making use of a Microsoft Teams project management tool, assigning responsibilities, and delegating tasks in the same platform where they hold their day-to-day discussions.

Best practices of organizing function of management

Best practices of organizing function of management include:

Task delegation: It’s important to delegate the tasks to the right employee so that the project can go as it was planned.

Creating a productive working environment: To create a productive working environment, managers can motivate their staff with employee recognition.

Making sure that the employees understand their responsibilities: To avoid deviation from the plan, you need to make sure everyone is on the same page and your employees are confident that they can manage their tasks.

4. Leading function of management

four functions of management

The last and quite possibly the broadest out of the 4 basic functions of management is “Leading”. Stating that a leader has the obligation to lead is a textbook example of circular defining and has no place on the Teamflect blog! We do want to highlight, however, the additional responsibilities of the modern workplace leader.

We can observe the leadership function of management in many different contexts. What are the four situational management styles?

  • Directing: Employees do not contribute to the decision-making process in directing. This is a great leadership style for new employees when you need to provide a lot of initial guidance and training.
  • Coaching: The leader welcomes the employee’s suggestions. Building trust, teamwork and cooperation among employees can be done through exchanging ideas. This style of leadership is ideal for those who need organizational support in developing their skills.
  • Supporting: The manager will focus on building relationships within the team, and all members participate in decision-making. This leadership style can be effective if employees do not consistently perform as well as they are able to.
  • Delegating: The leader delegates guidance to employees only when necessary and is more focused on long-term goals than daily operations. This style of leadership is effective with employees who are self-directed and work well on their own. The leader can focus more on the big picture, making decisions about them as needed.

Employee engagement hasn’t been a part of the conversation during this particular discussion of the four functions of management and keeping employees engaged is one of the hardest jobs a manager can have in the current landscape.

For that reason we highly recommend leaders keep their communication channels wide open through effective one-on-one meetings, and employee recognition modules.

Best practices of leading function of management

Inspiring your employees: Managers should be an inspiration for their employees because this inspiration can help employees to be more productive and creative.

Motivating by giving praise: Giving praise is a useful strategy if you want your employees to improve their efficiency.

Closing words

Implementing the four functions of management requires an evolved approach to these four management functions: planning, controlling, organizing, and leading. And Teamflect offers a modernized solution tailored for the challenges of 2023.

As the best performance management software for Microsoft Teams users, Teamflect creates seamless implementation of these four functions of management, and empowers leaders to inspire, motivate, and drive success.

Moreover, due to their broad nature, the four functions of management have stayed relevant and will probably do so in the years to come. What we need to change about the four functions of management isn’t the “What?” but the “How?”.

Fulfilling these four functions of management is a task that keeps getting exponentially harder. The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone!

How Teamflect can help

There are many incredible tools you can use to help you in this regard and we here at Teamflect, are proud to be able to provide you with one of those tools. If you are part of an organization that uses Microsoft Teams, then Teamflect will be your strongest ally! To schedule a free demo and learn more, you can click below!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the four functions of management?

Fayol’s four functions of management are planning, controlling, organizing, and leading. They are four central responsibilities a leader has to fulfill no matter which industry or organization they are a part of.

What are the types of plans?

  1. Strategic Plans
  2. Tactical Plans
  3. Operational Plans
  4. Contingency Plans

What are the four situational management styles?

  1. Directing: Employees do not contribute to the decision-making process in directing. This is a great leadership style for new employees when you need to provide a lot of initial guidance and training.
  2. Coaching: The leader welcomes the employee’s suggestions. Building trust, teamwork and cooperation among employees can be done through exchanging ideas. This style of leadership is ideal for those who need organizational support in developing their skills.
  3. Supporting: The manager will focus on building relationships within the team, and all members participate in decision-making. This leadership style can be effective if employees do not consistently perform as well as they are able to.
  4. Delegating: The leader delegates guidance to employees only when necessary and is more focused on long-term goals than daily operations. This style of leadership is effective with employees who are self-directed and work well on their own. The leader can focus more on the big picture, making decisions about them as needed.

Written by Emre Ok

Emre is a content writer at Teamflect who aims to share fun and unique insight into the world of performance management.

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