III. 4. Managerial function
III. 4.1 Conceptual remarks
The leadership of any organization appears as a distinct
subsystem, as a process consisting of a range of cyclical activities.
These group of distinct activities, developed in every stage, represent
what we call management functions. They also designate the types of
actions specific to managers.
The first to define these functions was Henry Fayol who,
in 1916, published in “Bulletin de la Societe de l’Industrie
Minerale” his work “Administration industrielle el generale
– Prevoyance, organization, commandament, coordination, controle”.
The managerial activity includes five categories of distinct
activities: forecast and planning, organization, command, coordination
and control. These functions are embraced by more recent studies, whose
authors have added a few more. For instance, W. Thimm identifies six
functions: diagnosis, forecast, planning, decision, organization, control
In our opinion, the number and nature of management functions
must be analyzed based on the management level, related to the attributions
of the managers and their scope of competency.
III. 4.2. The content of management functions
- Planning - is the activity that allows managers
to evaluate the future, to grasp the trends, the probable circumstances
of the influential factors that shall act (in a positive or negative
sense) upon the organization. Based on the extent of the forecast,
three types of predictive activities can be identified: prognosis,
planning and scheduling.
- Prognosis is a long term forecast, spreading
over a period over 10 years and concretized in prognosis studies and/or
scripts based on which strategic decision are made at the superior
- Planning is a medium and short-term predictive
activity, covering from a few years down to a semester or even less,
a month. This activity results into a plan.
- Scheduling covers short periods of time (10 days,
a week, a shift), is very detailed with regard to actions, means and
resources used to fulfill a certain plan. The elements included in
scheduling need to have a high degree of accuracy and also involve
sophisticated methods, such as the Delphi method.
- Organization (structuring):
It rationally combines all the elements necessary for
the correct functioning: material resources, labor resources, financial
As a management function, organization refers to two
- One regarding the structure of the organization.
- The second regarding the structure of the personnel
and of the material and financial resources necessary in order
to develop the activity in optimum conditions.
- Coordination provides the cooperation between
compartments and people, the harmonization of their actions, in order
to avoid parallel and overlapping actions and the waste of resources
- Involvement represents the actions developed
by managers in order to determine the staff to participate to the
organizational activity in an active, responsible and creative way.
- Motivation should be based on harmonizing the
staff’s interest with the objectives of the organization through
a diversified system of motivational methods and techniques, according
to each particular situation. This motivational process is going to
be a lot easier if, upon hiring the staff, their abilities and expectations
are thoroughly considered.
- Control consists of supervising the development
of the respective system and comparing the results with the expectations.
This can be a preventive activity (in order to avoid any possible
and predictable errors) or corrective (when it brings the system to
the normal functioning parameters).
It is a process that, generally, goes through the following steps:
- Setting the objectives.
- Selecting the measurement criteria and standards
necessary in order to assess the results.
- Obtaining information with regard to these results
- Comparing these results with the objectives of
the controlled activity.
- Assessment is a process through which information
is obtain with regard to the analyzed activity, the results are compared
to various objectives or standards and decisions are made with regard
to the improvement of the assessed activity.
Although control includes an assessment feature, assessment
in itself is more complex and can be performed through different means.
All these various management functions constitute an integrated system
that makes the management activity coherent.
Last, but certainly not least, a key point in any managerial
activity, often regarded as a specific function is decision,
process consisting in choosing one way of action out of many possibilities.
It has a procedural character and includes a succession of activities:
preparing and adopting the decision and the implementation measures,
implementing the decision and controlling the way in which it is being
- Decision preparation: this involves identifying
the problems, obtaining the necessary information, selecting, organizing
and processing the information, elaborating various alternatives and
projects for measure plans.
- Decision making: this involves the analysis and
comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative,
followed by the selection of the most advantageous or less disadvantageous
- Decision implementation: it involves a succession
of organizational and motivational activities: communicating the decision;
explaining it in order to motivate the staff; organizing the practical
action; controlling the decision and regulating the action when problems
appear; assessing the final outcome.
Summarizing all these functions and tasks it is clear that
the managerial activity is a very complex one, involving multiple skills
and abilities. In fact, managers have to be good team workers, good
communicators, good time-mangers, good fund raisers, good motivators,
negotiators…or more detailed, a manger should be:
- An organizer, with capacity to understand, plan
and co-ordinate efforts and resources to meet the objectives;
- A strategist, able to set clear long and short-term
objectives, keeping these in mind together with the reasons for the
- A motivator, with skills and attitudes enabling
him/her to motivate and commit people to the goals
- A fund-raiser, with knowledge and confidence
to apply for funds to administer and account for them with integrity
- An activist, in the meaning of someone able to
spot initiatives and to organize ideas into meaningful actions
- A visionary, someone able to imagine social innovation
- A community worker, with particular concern for
the affairs of the community or/and organization
- A teacher and a learner capable of empowering
people while at the same time being able to learn from the experiences
and use that for the organization, project or community – monitoring
and evaluating a process in relation to the objectives, changing plans
and ultimately objectives in relation to the circumstances. (Abrignani,
Gomes, de Vilder, 2000, p. 39).