When taking on the role of a manager and/or leader it is important to take a flexible approach to the management of staff. Henri Fayol, a successful manager, highlighted five standardised principles which he believed every manager has an obligation to incorporate into their management style. His work on identifying key task-oriented principles is still prevalent in many businesses today and therefore, as a manager, it is useful to review his principles:
1) Plan and forecast – managers should plan a series of actions that hope to meet the future objectives of the organisation.
2) Organise – to ensure a systemised procedure is in order.
3) Coordinate – to guarantee the harmony of work practices, so resources, actions and inputs achieve their desired outcomes.
4) Command – offer direction and assistance for employees.
5) Control – to make sure that orders are followed and that all principles of management are applied.
Fayol also set out the main principles of management which are displayed in the following table1:
Structural Principles (principles relating to the structure of the business)
- Division of work
- Authority and responsibility
- Unity of command
- Unity of direction
- Chain of command
- Subordination of individual interest to general interest
- Remuneration of personnel
- Esprit de corps (team motivation)
This theory gives a broad overview of the tasks of a successful manager. Whilst this is useful for planning and guiding a business, you should appreciate how such principles may be too ideological, broad and impractical in reality. Therefore, it may be instructive to spend some time looking at what managers actually do and, from that, try and build a picture of the skills required to be a manager.
Writing in 2002, David Boddy stated that, “Management is the task of planning, organising, leading and controlling the use of resources in order to achieve some performance objectives.”
Essentially, this means that inputs of people, finance and materials are transformed by management functions like planning, organising, controlling and leadership, into outputs such as goods, services and reputation. Leadership, therefore is a key function of management.
A manager’s role could be seen as a logical sequence of planning, organising and controlling but, on a day-to-day, or even hour-to-hour basis, the reality is very different. In 1967 Rosemary Stewart devised a series of management profiles based upon managers’ time spent on activities, rather than their level or function in an organisation. These profiles* are as follows:
- The Emissaries spent much of their time outside of the business, meeting customers, suppliers or contractors.
- The Writers spent most of their time alone, reading and writing, and had the fewest contacts with others. If they had meetings they were usually with just one other person.
- The Discussers spent most of their time with other people and colleagues.
- The Troubleshooters had the most fragmented work pattern of all, with many diary entries and many fleeting contacts, especially with their employees.
- The Committee Members had a wide range of internal contacts, and spent much time in formal meetings. They spent half of their working day in discussions with more than one person. *Source Rosemary Stewart, 1967
If you had to pick one of these profiles to describe your own management style, which would it be?
 Ian Brooks, Organisational Behaviour, 3rd edition, Pearson Education Ltd 2006