Four Functions of Management: Planning, Organizing, Leading & Controlling

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The word management is often treated as if it has four letters. But try getting anything done in a fast-paced work environment without applying the four functions of management.

No matter what type of work you do, having a clear understanding of the four functions of management will help you do that work more efficiently. It’s all about adapting to whatever work environment you’re in and making it perform better. Let’s learn more about the four functions of management.

What Are the Four Functions of Management?

The four functions of management are planning, organizing, leading and controlling. In order to be a successful manager, you must do all four while managing your work and team. These are the foundations of any professional managerial position. On top of this, there are other skills and specialized knowledge related specifically to the job you manage.

The concept of how management should interact with personnel was first codified by Henri Fayol, a French mining engineer. He developed a general theory of business administration and management functions, which developed into the four functions of management.

Without these four pillars of management supporting those other responsibilities, nothing is going to get done on time and within budget. If you’re managing yourself or teams of workers, you need to understand these fundamentals of management, which are the basis of management skills.

Of course, the four functions of management are theoretical. When you’re ready to put them into practice, you’ll need hybrid work management tools that let you connect with your coworkers and teams wherever they might be working. It’s part of the core responsibilities of a manager, no matter what your organizational structure is.

ProjectManager is cloud-based work management software that helps hybrid teams work better by giving them a collaborative platform with multiple project views. Just as there are different management styles, ProjectManager has different ways of working, from Gantt charts to task lists, calendars to kanban boards. All views share the same real-time data to keep everyone always working on the most current view of the project. Get started with ProjectManager for free today.

ProjectManager's task list viewProjectManager's task list view
ProjectManager has multiple project views, such as our task list, so you can manage work how you want to.—Learn More!

Function 1: Planning

The first of the four functions of management is planning: you can’t manage your work until you have a planning process. This means understanding your goals and objectives, which is the start of strategic planning. Having a strategic or tactical plan is how you get from point A to point B.

Of course, tactical planning is more than just getting from one place to another. There’s operational planning, which involves identifying and assigning resources, both in terms of personnel and materials. That means assembling a team and being able to allocate resources, such as the equipment they need to execute the work.

There’s also organizing your tasks, prioritizing them and giving each a deadline and duration. The plan includes adding tasks to a timeline to schedule your work. Then, you have to keep updated on your team’s progress and performance and, if they’re not meeting benchmarks, adjust your plan to get back on track.

Communication is a key element of planning. Managers must clearly communicate the plan to their team in order for them to properly execute the work. But, they must also communicate to stakeholders and keep them updated on the progress of the work that they are so invested in.

Related: Free Project Plan Template

Function 2: Organizing

Organization falls on every aspect of a manager’s responsibility. You can’t manage teams successfully without having some kind of organization. When you prioritize tasks in planning, you keep your organization in detail.

In terms of the larger picture when it comes to organization, a manager is responsible for making sure their company, department or project is running smoothly. This is done by creating internal processes and structures, as well as understanding your team or employees so you can place them where they’re best suited. Managers not only have to keep their work organized, but also manage the operation of their department and the people therein.

That doesn’t mean a manager is only delegating tasks and making sure those working under them have the resources they need to accomplish their tasks. They must keep an eye on the processes and structures they employ and adjust them as needed to make sure they’re working efficiently and keeping everyone productive. This organizing function is essential, which is why it’s one of the essential functions of management.

Function 3: Leading

Leading is about having the skills, communication aptitude and ability to motivate those you manage. Leadership is a critical role for anyone in management, which is why it’s one of the four functions of management. If you can’t lead, regardless of your leadership style, you’re not going to be a successful manager. It’s all about building trust with your team.

Leadership skills include conflict resolution. When you’re managing a diverse group, there will be conflicts that can delay tasks and cost your organization money. The better you are at identifying and resolving these conflicts, the better your management is.

Leadership styles vary, but they share giving their teams a strong sense of direction when defining goals and objectives. This is regardless of if they’re assigning regular work or introducing a new process to the team.

Because leadership can be expressed in myriad ways, managers of all stripes can find themselves cast as leaders. Some are more top-down authoritarians. That is, they employ autocratic leadership. On the other hand, there are bottom-up managers, who seeking collaboration from everyone in the office and encourage employees to participate in the process.

Whatever leadership style you have, or a combination of leadership styles, it can be applied to the way you manage your team members. Even the most hands-off leaders motivate and drive their teams to successful ends. There’s no one to do this, but the basic functions of a strong leader in management are understanding employees and what takes to get the best out of them.

Function 4: Controlling

The controlling function involves monitoring and tracking progress and performance to help when making decisions in a work environment. You can plan, organize and lead to your heart’s content, but if you’re not monitoring the quality of work of your employees, you’re going to be in trouble. If you need help with the controlling process, try our free dashboard template.

Beyond progress, performance and quality, the controlling process also includes how efficiently they’re doing their jobs and how reliable they are when taking on their tasks. Another term for this is control management and quality management. It’s a part of any decision-making process. You can’t make an insightful choice without good data to support it.

The purpose of controlling in management is not to dominate your workers, but to make sure that they’re meeting the goals and objectives of the business. Some managers will prefer to chart out the entire workflow of their teams while others will allow their workers to be self-directed.

These are two sides of the same coin, which is delivering quality on time and within the budget in all work environments, and the most important aspect of the four management functions. It’s all about meeting your financial goals and should be at the forefront of your management team.

How ProjectManager Helps With the Four Functions of Management

ProjectManager is a cloud-based tool that gives managers the tools they need to plan, organize, lead and control their teams, whether they’re under the same roof, distributed across time zones or in different departments. ProjectManager’s hybrid work management features give your real-time data to make more insightful decisions, work more productive and deliver success.

Easily Create Robust Project Plans

Making a successful plan means organizing tasks, linking dependencies and setting milestones. One of ProjectManager’s multiple project views is an interactive Gantt chart that does that and much more. You can easily filter for the critical path instead of taking time with complicated calculations. Then, set the baseline. Now, you’ve captured the plan to compare it to your actual effort once you start working.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart view for managing projects and teamsProjectManager's Gantt chart view for managing projects and teams

Monitor Your Team’s Progress in Real-Time and Improve Organization

You can’t control your team if you’re not monitoring them. You don’t want to get in their way, though, which is why ProjectManager’s real-time dashboard automatically collects data and calculates that information into easy-to-read graphs and charts on workload, time, cost and more. It’s like getting an instant status report whenever you want.

ProjectManager's real-time dashboard for managers to track progressProjectManager's real-time dashboard for managers to track progress

Generate Reports for Shareholders and Enhance the Controlling Function

To drill down deeper into the data use, ProjectManager’s one-click reports, which you can filter to focus only on that information you want to see. ProjectManager has a report on timesheets to see how long teams are taking on their tasks, project variance to capture the planned versus actual effort and even portfolio status reports if you’re managing more than one project. Reports can then be shared with stakeholders to keep them updated. This has obvious applications to the four functions of management.

ProjectManager's status report filter windowProjectManager's status report filter window

ProjectManager is award-winning software that helps manage hybrid teams, no matter where they are, how they work or their skill level. Our tool connects teams to help them work better while giving managers the transparency they need to better lead and deliver results for their stakeholders. Get started today for free and join the 35,000-plus professionals using ProjectManager.

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