Functions of management and what managers must do in order to stay afloat in today’s highly competitive business world has dramatically shifted from the traditional management functions as contained in most management textbooks in the market. Huge changes have taken place in the field play of business-TIKING.
Business-TIKING is a new synonymous word replacing politicking in the game of business, do not bother looking it up in dictionary. The advent of information technology and subsequent improvements in information technology and information processing posed a new and interesting challenge that modern day management must tackle without fear of favour.
TRADITIONAL | MEDIEVAL ROLES AND FUNCTIONS OF MANAGEMENT
Traditional functions of management in this context simply means those core functions that forms the baseline of what is expected from everyday managers of a business. They still remain highly relevant in decision making and strategic planning. However, there is still too much room for improvement as far as succeeding in business is concerned.
8 (EIGHT) FUNCTIONS OF MANAGEMENT
According to Ackoff 1981, planning is a design of what we desire in the future, then fashion ways to accomplish them. This is to say that planning is a process that involves both short term actions (e.g. budgeting) and long term actions (e.g. strategic planning).
In common parlance, planning means looking couple of steps ahead of you, then devise a means of getting there. Through planning, managers get insight about a potential shortage of cash and then arrange for the best source of finance as part of their financing decision for example.
Placing the right level of priority on business functions goes a long way in avoiding conflict of any kind. It takes the effort of good management team to make sure that roles and functions of staff of different levels are clearly mapped out in such a way that tasks are performed as and when due. The process of bringing both physical and non physical resources into a process without much friction is the main idea behind organizing.
This is where most businesses that are struggling today usually get it wrong. Most managers see organization as a one off thing that is done once and then reap from it forever. Ideally, organizing should be viewed as a cybernetic that has loops. It starts from identifying what needs to be done, breaking down what needs to be done into smaller groups of activities, making people responsible for achieving the goals of the activities, and finally coordinating the different parts that are involved in the process so that organizational goals will be achieved seamlessly.
Human resource is the most important asset that a company can boast of. It is the function and responsibility of management to source and employ the best hands suitable for the unique situation of the company in particular. It will be a disaster if the right people are employed to fill the wrong positions. It is not just enough to bring people from different background, fix them together and ask them to work as a team without firstly simulating their compatibility. Also, proper system of internal control needs to be in place so as to ensure that other assets are not mismanaged or misappropriated by the human factor.
Managerial decision is a function of several aspects of business, like marketing, production, purchasing, financing, etc. These aspects of business cannot be made meaningful if they stand as silos (i.e. not working in harmony). It is part of management function to ensure that these stand alone aspects of business work together in harmony so as to ensure goal congruence. Failure to do so might lead to a situation where individual managers will make decisions that they think will be for the betterment of the company but are in fact not adding up when viewed together – this is commonly referred to dysfunctional behaviour
Power without control is more dangerous than a drunk equipped with loaded rifle. Controlling ensures that things are moving in line with plans. In this context, controls ensure that a loaded rifle is not given to a drunk. Actual performance is benchmarked against the standard that has been set as part of the mission statement of the company. The main two primary functions of controls are: (a) helping management in planning, (b) smoothening co-ordination. I was once told by my accounting teacher that controlling and planning are two inseparable functions of management. One cannot survive without the other. The most used control tools in management include variance analysis and contribution analysis.
This is more of instructional process where managers oversee the functions and activities of others on a daily basis. Directing has an important role to play in managerial process as it is the hub of the main actions or activities that brings direct result in business. Through directing and mentoring, a manager motivates employees to bring out their best in carrying out their daily routine.
We now live in a world where management is more of a stewardship process than ownership. The fact that management is divorced from ownership makes it so important that manager’s report back to the owners of a business that put them in charge. This forms a major management function because no one wishes to operate in darkness when it comes to getting information about his or her investment. Through reports, management’s activities are evaluated in the light of prevailing circumstances.
As mentioned earlier, budgeting is a short term version of the whole planning process. It is the function of management to give detailed budgets of the units that is controlled by them. The common function of budgeting includes motivating staff into positive action; depending on the style of budgeting. Cost management is targeted as one of the objectives of having a budget in place. As a manager, your aim should not be just to meet with the budget but to actually reduce cost and maximize profits bearing in mind advantages and disadvantages of different budget styles.
EXTENSION OF MANAGEMENT FUNCTIONS TO MEET CURRENT REALITIES
Changes in variables that interact in business environment (both micro and macro) have made it necessary for functions of management to be extended. This section will discuss these ad-ons to the traditional management function.
Businesses now operate in an environment that has been severely polluted by numerous risks that falls under business risk, political risks, environmental risks, and financial risks. The quest to capture a fair portion of the globalised business opens up a new and fresh perspective to direct foreign investments thereby making it a necessity that a manager must be vast in risk management if she or wishes to excel.
Non financial factors are considered as part of risk analysis when carrying out an investment appraisal or capital budgeting as it is also known as. Business analysis and business valuation which are both included in the fundamental analysis process demands that business operations are critically looked at from the risk management capability of her managements.
CORPORATE IMAGE MANAGEMENT
Brand management is a key addition that managers now face especially in this information age where the word ‘secret’ is almost eliminated from the English dictionary. It is becoming extremely difficult for managements of businesses to conceal information that will have adverse effects on its trademark and brand name from the public as both the general public and the media houses employ some unethical means of sourcing information.
The best bet of managements in this time of information security uncertainty is to ensure that internal processes are filtered of rubbish that when released to the general public will affect the corporate image of the company adversely.
As you can see from the above discussion, functions of management have gone beyond the traditional eight management functions to include risk analysis and corporate image management, thereby making the whole process more complex. It now requires vast knowledge in cybersecurity risk management, risk assessment and corporate governance to become a manager today than ever.