- Know the dimensions of the planning-organizing-leading-controlling (P-O-L-C) framework.
- Know the general inputs into each P-O-L-C dimension.
A manager’s primary challenge is to solve problems creatively. While drawing from a variety of academic disciplines, and to help managers respond to the challenge of creative problem solving, principles of management have long been categorized into the four major functions of planning, organizing, leading, and controlling (the P-O-L-C framework). The four functions, summarized in the P-O-L-C figure, are actually highly integrated when carried out in the day-to-day realities of running an organization. Therefore, you should not get caught up in trying to analyze and understand a complete, clear rationale for categorizing skills and practices that compose the whole of the P-O-L-C framework.
It is important to note that this framework is not without criticism. Specifically, these criticisms stem from the observation that the P-O-L-C functions might be ideal but that they do not accurately depict the day-to-day actions of actual managers (Mintzberg, 1973; Lamond, 2004). The typical day in the life of a manager at any level can be fragmented and hectic, with the constant threat of having priorities dictated by the law of the trivial many and important few (i.e., the 80/20 rule). However, the general conclusion seems to be that the P-O-L-C functions of management still provide a very useful way of classifying the activities managers engage in as they attempt to achieve organizational goals (Lamond, 2004).
Figure 1.7 The P-O-L-C Framework
Planning is the function of management that involves setting objectives and determining a course of action for achieving those objectives. Planning requires that managers be aware of environmental conditions facing their organization and forecast future conditions. It also requires that managers be good decision makers.
Planning is a process consisting of several steps. The process begins with environmental scanning which simply means that planners must be aware of the critical contingencies facing their organization in terms of economic conditions, their competitors, and their customers. Planners must then attempt to forecast future conditions. These forecasts form the basis for planning.
Planners must establish objectives, which are statements of what needs to be achieved and when. Planners must then identify alternative courses of action for achieving objectives. After evaluating the various alternatives, planners must make decisions about the best courses of action for achieving objectives. They must then formulate necessary steps and ensure effective implementation of plans. Finally, planners must constantly evaluate the success of their plans and take corrective action when necessary.
There are many different types of plans and planning.
Strategic planning involves analyzing competitive opportunities and threats, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, and then determining how to position the organization to compete effectively in their environment. Strategic planning has a long time frame, often three years or more. Strategic planning generally includes the entire organization and includes formulation of objectives. Strategic planning is often based on the organization’s mission, which is its fundamental reason for existence. An organization’s top management most often conducts strategic planning.
Tactical planning is intermediate-range (one to three years) planning that is designed to develop relatively concrete and specific means to implement the strategic plan. Middle-level managers often engage in tactical planning.
Operational planning generally assumes the existence of organization-wide or subunit goals and objectives and specifies ways to achieve them. Operational planning is short-range (less than a year) planning that is designed to develop specific action steps that support the strategic and tactical plans.
Organizing is the function of management that involves developing an organizational structure and allocating human resources to ensure the accomplishment of objectives. The structure of the organization is the framework within which effort is coordinated. The structure is usually represented by an organization chart, which provides a graphic representation of the chain of command within an organization. Decisions made about the structure of an organization are generally referred to as organizational design decisions.
Organizing also involves the design of individual jobs within the organization. Decisions must be made about the duties and responsibilities of individual jobs, as well as the manner in which the duties should be carried out. Decisions made about the nature of jobs within the organization are generally called “job design” decisions.
Organizing at the level of the organization involves deciding how best to departmentalize, or cluster, jobs into departments to coordinate effort effectively. There are many different ways to departmentalize, including organizing by function, product, geography, or customer. Many larger organizations use multiple methods of departmentalization.
Organizing at the level of a particular job involves how best to design individual jobs to most effectively use human resources. Traditionally, job design was based on principles of division of labor and specialization, which assumed that the more narrow the job content, the more proficient the individual performing the job could become. However, experience has shown that it is possible for jobs to become too narrow and specialized. For example, how would you like to screw lids on jars one day after another, as you might have done many decades ago if you worked in company that made and sold jellies and jams? When this happens, negative outcomes result, including decreased job satisfaction and organizational commitment, increased absenteeism, and turnover.
Recently, many organizations have attempted to strike a balance between the need for worker specialization and the need for workers to have jobs that entail variety and autonomy. Many jobs are now designed based on such principles as empowerment, job enrichment and teamwork. For example, HUI Manufacturing, a custom sheet metal fabricator, has done away with traditional “departments” to focus on listening and responding to customer needs. From company-wide meetings to team huddles, HUI employees know and understand their customers and how HUI might service them best (Huimfg, 2008).
Leading involves the social and informal sources of influence that you use to inspire action taken by others. If managers are effective leaders, their subordinates will be enthusiastic about exerting effort to attain organizational objectives.
The behavioral sciences have made many contributions to understanding this function of management. Personality research and studies of job attitudes provide important information as to how managers can most effectively lead subordinates. For example, this research tells us that to become effective at leading, managers must first understand their subordinates’ personalities, values, attitudes, and emotions.
Studies of motivation and motivation theory provide important information about the ways in which workers can be energized to put forth productive effort. Studies of communication provide direction as to how managers can effectively and persuasively communicate. Studies of leadership and leadership style provide information regarding questions, such as, “What makes a manager a good leader?” and “In what situations are certain leadership styles most appropriate and effective?”
Controlling involves ensuring that performance does not deviate from standards. Controlling consists of three steps, which include (1) establishing performance standards, (2) comparing actual performance against standards, and (3) taking corrective action when necessary. Performance standards are often stated in monetary terms such as revenue, costs, or profits but may also be stated in other terms, such as units produced, number of defective products, or levels of quality or customer service.
The measurement of performance can be done in several ways, depending on the performance standards, including financial statements, sales reports, production results, customer satisfaction, and formal performance appraisals. Managers at all levels engage in the managerial function of controlling to some degree.
The managerial function of controlling should not be confused with control in the behavioral or manipulative sense. This function does not imply that managers should attempt to control or to manipulate the personalities, values, attitudes, or emotions of their subordinates. Instead, this function of management concerns the manager’s role in taking necessary actions to ensure that the work-related activities of subordinates are consistent with and contributing toward the accomplishment of organizational and departmental objectives.
Effective controlling requires the existence of plans, since planning provides the necessary performance standards or objectives. Controlling also requires a clear understanding of where responsibility for deviations from standards lies. Two traditional control techniques are budget and performance audits. An audit involves an examination and verification of records and supporting documents. A budget audit provides information about where the organization is with respect to what was planned or budgeted for, whereas a performance audit might try to determine whether the figures reported are a reflection of actual performance. Although controlling is often thought of in terms of financial criteria, managers must also control production and operations processes, procedures for delivery of services, compliance with company policies, and many other activities within the organization.
The management functions of planning, organizing, leading, and controlling are widely considered to be the best means of describing the manager’s job, as well as the best way to classify accumulated knowledge about the study of management. Although there have been tremendous changes in the environment faced by managers and the tools used by managers to perform their roles, managers still perform these essential functions.
The principles of management can be distilled down to four critical functions. These functions are planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. This P-O-L-C framework provides useful guidance into what the ideal job of a manager should look like.
- What are the management functions that comprise the P-O-L-C framework?
- Are there any criticisms of this framework?
- What function does planning serve?
- What function does organizing serve?
- What function does leading serve?
- What function does controlling serve?
Huimfg.com, http://www.huimfg.com/abouthui-yourteams.aspx (accessed October 15, 2008).
Lamond, D, “A Matter of Style: Reconciling Henri and Henry,” Management Decision 42, no. 2 (2004): 330–56.
Mintzberg, H. The Nature of Managerial Work (New York: Harper & Row, 1973); D. Lamond, “A Matter of Style: Reconciling Henri and Henry,” Management Decision 42, no. 2 (2004): 330–56.
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Analysis Avalina polytechnic University The Avalina polytechnic University (APU) case is the story of management skills, a great example and a good proof of how good management structures and decisions can build a beautiful castle from the dead ground and how that can be torn down to pieces by wrong management decisions. Introduction APU was founded in 1961 in Indiana, US by a successful business man named Dr. Robert Van de Mar who had large informal influence in Avalina. The first purpose of the university was to serve the local community with students trained in business and engineering and the second to offer a meaningful future to the youth of Avalina. During the responsibility period of Professor Brandt who was the first Dean, the university took big steps by developing its communication network with the work industry, partnerships with other famous universities and hiring well-known teachers. The structure and strategies used made a lot of students, especially locals to apply to the programs making the university able to demand higher fees and start sport clubs. In conclusion, Professor Brandt managed to establish a strong foundation for the university to expand on. This all took a turn when Fred Ruback with a good load of experience in cost-reduction and work efficiency took over. Even though his decisions were first welcomed by teachers, after a short while the negative consequences began to appear and a lot of teachers were left thinking only about one question; “What went wrong at APU?” Growth period As the normal process of most startup businesses, the logistics in the organizations was at first coordinated by direct supervision from the dean to the operating core. In this case, the top manager, the Dean was supervising two units: the engineering and business unit. When looking at the “industry lifecycle matrix” (Schriber, 2015), the University did everything according to a known academic fundamentals of organizations. As it started to grow, more resources were invested. Eventually, the university grew into two well-functioning differentiated units, business and engineering which has developed and specialized more into units divided, professional standardization. In terms of Mintzberg’s archetypes we assume that the university was organized in a professional bureaucracy form (Mintzberg, 2009, p.153). We based our assumptions on the fact that teachers performed independently on pre-learned skills within their operating core units, at time. The University was at this stage coordinated according to what Mintzberg defines as a “Mechanism of standardization of skills” and reach its mature stage by focusing on high academic standards. The university eventually became an “established player on the state educational market” (Schriber, 2015). 2. Deterioration period After Professor Brandt retired, the steering committee hired a new dean named Fred Ruback. Mr. Ruback had his background from the car industry with a long career in managing and improving efficiency in several industries. From the very beginning it was clear that structural changes were going to be made. In his inaugural speech he mentioned “his intention of focusing on running a “tight ship” (Schriber, 2015). Ruback made a lot of structure changes in the organization to save costs. Eventually the university started to discharge from a well-functioning university structured in form of a professional bureaucracy, to a square, misfitting machine bureaucracy. Likewise, the university also went from being coordinated as standardisation of working skills to a more controlled form of coordination as standardization of work process. According to Mintzberg, “the machine bureaucracy is a structure with an obsession- namely control” (Mintzberg, 2009, p.167). The teachers independent work got restricted and formalized among other changes that limited the creativity within the teaching staff. "Planning and Admission decided to formalize course description that had to be submitted, approved, and locked one year in advance to ensure an optimal use of classrooms, teacher resources, and the like, among other changes”. (Schriber, 2015) Thus, the new structure left no room for adjustments which is clearly necessary within the education industry, consequently employees got upset. “Teachers became afraid of trying to improve since it risked backfire and lead to prolonged discussions with the planning office”. (Schriber, 2015) Mr Ruback, also modified the working process. The teacher's role had been changed from a key role to operator delivering a unified message. Mr. Ruback said “If one teacher has made a plan for a course, that plan could be used by other teachers, too – just change the books!”. And a teacher argue that he “cannot add extra lectures or decide “. The new coordinating mechanism within the school follows exactly Mintzberg description of standardisation of work process because “Work processes are standardized when the contents of the work are specified, or programmed” (Mintzberg, 2009, p.5) Apart from the limitations in the teacher's influence, Mr. Ruback also reduced the qualification standards required for new employees. "To further improve the financial situation was to hire faculty without a PhD (of course apart from PhD students; training to become PhDs, and non-academic staff)" (Schriber, 2015). 3. Conclusion- Why didn't the new structure work out? In this case we believe that by applying old concepts, which have shown to be profitable in certain industries, does not necessarily have to show the same outcome in others. We believe that a university's profitability-level is primarily dependent on the number of students it manages to recruit. The reputation, education quality and research abilities, highly affect the attractiveness and must hence be the heart of the organization. Mr. Ruback underestimated the importance of letting the professionals perform independently. Mintzberg states that this kind of dysfunctional response is explained by “those outside the profession—clients, nonprofessional administrators, members of the society at large and their representatives in government [...] they do the obvious: try to control the work with one of the other coordinating mechanisms.” (2009, p.210). Mintzberg states that a standardization of the working process, will consequently result in an indirect standardization of skills. The difference is that the operators learn the job in the business, instead of pre learned at g.e. a university. By coming from a different management background, Ruback might have done this correlation and applied the same argument when decreasing the standardization of skills to a increased level of work process implemented standardization. This might be possible in a similar case within a commercial industry, which do not serve the same purposes as a university. (2009, p.6-7) In conclusion it is important to always have in considerations that there is no optimal way of forming a structure for an organisation, no matter what foundation in academic theories the structures are based on. In the APU case such assumptions were made and consequently the result showed to be devastating. References Mintzberg, Henry (2009). Structure in fives: designing effective organizations . [2nd ed.] Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education: Svante Schriber (2015). Avalina Polytechnic University. Principles of Management, Stockholm Business school. Svante Schriber (2015). Organizations and their environment. Lecture slides (lecture 4). Principles of Management, Stockholm Business school.