Managers aren’t like other types of employees who have very specific job duties, such as accountants or engineers. Managers need to have a much broader skill set that includes mastering five basic management functions: planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling. Successful managers will receive professional management training in all of these areas. Let’s take a brief look at what each function involves.
Planning is probably the most essential management skill. It involves creating goals, and then setting out a plan of action to accomplish those goals. While some people believe that only top management is involved in the planning process, it actually occurs at all levels within an organization. To excel at planning, managers must also be good at problem solving and decision making.
Effective planning involves internal as well as external factors. Internal factors include things such as organizational structure, and the makeup of the workforce. External factors include management of resources, economic trends, technological changes, government regulations, political influences, and more. Staying on top of all of these factors takes extensive training and experience.
After a plan is made, next the manager needs to break it into activities, and then allocate resources for the accomplishment of those activities. Resources include things like materials, personnel, and financial support. Managers also organize by prioritizing which resources are given to accomplish which goals, and when.
Staffing is all about finding the right talent to serve in specific jobs, as well as making certain that enough staff is hired to meet the needs of the organization. Managers are also responsible for ensuring that talent is developed within the organization, as well as locating and hiring additional staff as needed. Managers get things done with and through the efforts of other people, so they need to be able to maintain the workforce with incentives and the proper motivation.
Directing the activities of others is probably the most commonly identifiable function of management. But just telling others what to do is not enough. Managers need to be trained on how to motivate people, and guide them with clear communication. Good managers are able to maintain the harmony of the workforce, while also accomplishing all necessary tasks.
The fifth and final function of management is controlling operational systems and processes. This involves establishing performance standards, and holding the appropriate staff accountable for the accomplishment of business goals. Managers also solve problems that come up along the way, in order to get the desired business results.