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The Four Critical Functions of Every Manager

Just like a plane can’t fly without a pilot, businesses cannot succeed without leadership. At the heart of every successful business is a successful manager. Whether that is one individual or a group of leaders, their function is critical for the company to thrive.

Much has been written about leadership styles within the business world. While leadership styles are important and have a direct impact on the way a company operates, they vary from one leader to the next. However, what does not vary is the function that leadership teams fulfill.

Within a corporation, a manager fulfills four basic functions, no matter their leadership technique. If you are in a position of leadership, big or small, you must be able to fulfill all four functions well. Taking a closer look at them will help you better embrace your position and lead your teams more effectively.

Function 1—Planning

It’s the manager’s duty to develop plans for the part of the organization under their control. They are much like the coach scripting the plays for their team. Those plays become the team’s game plan and, when implemented properly, push the players towards a win.

To perform this function, managerial professionals may hold meetings, work with employees individually, and evaluate what is happening every day within their departments. The objective of these actions should always be to reach the organization’s strategic goals. Whether that is to increase sales, gain more leads, improve employee morale, or something else, the manager’s responsibilities must push towards that goal. These professionals must also learn to use their team members and their time, abilities, and resources, to the betterment of the company.

So, how does this look on a practical level? In a corporate setting, a manager may:

  • Set goals for the employees to reach
  • Schedule who works when
  • Receive reports about the effectiveness of the workforce
  • Implement action plans to improve productivity
  • Ensure plans and instructions are followed
  • Connect with employees on goal achievement and to increase performance

Function 2—Organizing

In order to implement a plan, a manager must be organized. Coordinating supplies, people, ideas, data, and more all fall under the auspices of leadership and management. Doing so will drive productivity across all departments.

This particular function refers to organizing people, places, and products, depending on what is under the leader’s control. This will vary significantly from one business to the next. As part of this function, you may find that you are:

  • Creating internal processes and structures
  • Assigning the work for greater efficiency
  • Responding properly to challenges that arise
  • Managing schedules to ensure the work is always done on time
  • Keeping track of deadlines

Function 3—Leading

Managers should be comfortable and confident in leading and advising their team members. Sometimes a manager’s job title reflects this role because some companies call their leaders “directors.” The leadership must direct the people underneath them to ensure they are getting things done in line with the company’s goals.

In order to direct, a manager must be able to communicate the objectives set forth in the planning and organizing process.

Direction goes hand in hand with motivation. It’s not enough to tell people what to do. You must also ensure that they are motivated to do it. This requires excellent people skills and the ability to understand what makes people tick. Positive work environments, rewards programs, and encouragement can go a long way in helping to motivate people.

What makes someone good at this function? Leaders will often:

  • Be approachable and friendly
  • Listen to others
  • Be able to express goals and desires clearly
  • Understand how to move people to action in a positive manner
  • Provide guidance to help team members attain the business’ goals
  • Help with problem-solving when needed

Function 4—Controlling

A common concept in seafaring is that the captain always goes down with the ship. The same idea applies to managerial leaders. If your group is successful, you can feel good about your leadership—your actions contributed. If the group fails, you must take responsibility. This is why the final function of a manager is control.

Controlling in management does not refer to micromanaging the people underneath you. Instead, it refers to controlling the actions of the department as a whole to ensure the overall goals of the company are being met with the desired result.
In the role of controlling, you will need to constantly monitor the work your department is undertaking, and its outcomes.
Taking in feedback and adjusting accordingly can fall under this function. Sometimes, controlling means course-correcting to help push the organization in the right direction. At other times it simply means sitting back and watching as the people who report to you do what they do best.

As part of controlling, you may:

  • Gather and analyze data
  • Determine which workers are not excelling in their roles
  • Make personnel changes
  • Acknowledge team members who are excelling in their positions
  • Evaluate the quality of work performed
  • Make changes if deadlines are not met
  • Review weekly progress reports
  • Meet one-on-one with team members to help them succeed

Additional Training Helps a Manager Excel

Good managers have many character traits, but these four are essential. You cannot excel in this role if you aren’t good at planning, organizing, directing, and controlling. A clear understanding of these roles and how they apply to your management style and abilities will help you successfully lead those under you and push your business toward success.
If you feel that you lack the necessary skills to fulfill one of these functions, it may be time to consider additional training. Abilene Christian University offers undergraduate management programs for those who are anticipating a leadership role in the future, as well as graduate management programs to help existing managers add additional skills to their tool belts. With a fully online program and a Christian worldview, Abilene Christian University provides flexible degrees to meet your needs. Learn more about our online degree programs today, or enroll to explore new ideas that will help make you a more effective leader.

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