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The Four Functions of Management Essay Sample

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The Four Functions of Management Essay Sample

The person I chose to interview for my case study was the Village Manager at Summerset Aotea. Summerset Aotea is a new retirement village for the over 65’s that opened 7 years. The majority of its residents live independently however it is able to provide up to resthome level care for residents living in the main building. The current Village Manager has worked at Aotea for almost 4 years and with Summerset for 7 years. She manages 24 staff including caregiving, nursing, property, activities, sales, café and office staff.

Q) There are many types of plans that workplaces use to meet their goals and objectives, including mission statements, business plans, marketing plans and strategic plans. Which plan types do you use to assist you with meeting your goals and objectives? A) Business plan, quality & risk management plan, H&S plan. All these plans are important and they are all encompassed within the business plan.

Q) How often would you refer to each plan type?
A) Thoroughly monthly at our Quality meeting but the goals are always in the back of my mind throughout the month – for example if I’m in the middle of something I will think “what is my objective here?” so I refer to the relevant plan.

Q) Which plans do you refer to and use in conjunction with your staff? A) H&S and business. For example we’re having a clinical audit in a month and I know in the business plan the goal is to get 3 yrs certification so these are always being referred to and considered and brought into the regular staff meetings and catch-ups.

Do you refer to your mission statement?
No not really, I’m aware it’s the overarching factor of the business but I don’t refer to it. Q) There are many types of organisational structures, for example formal/informal, functional, divisional and matrix structures. What kind do you have in place on site and how effective do you feel this is? A) Although we’re governed by policies and procedures and job descriptions etc, I’d say our site structure at Aotea is a combination of functional, formal and informal. We’ve morphed into the informal structure over time so we can operate more efficiently – there’s always a lot to do with sometimes not enough resources, and when you’re dealing with the elderly it doesn’t pay to muck about.

Q) Are there any organisational structure changes that could be made that would make your job easier, either at site or at head office level? A) Yes. It would be really helpful to be allowed more autonomy for decision making around common sense decisions or purchases so I don’t have to run through the chain of command to get an answer then to find it’s a ‘No’ a week later. I’d like for them to trust us to do the job or don’t put us here. Also for senior Head Office staff to be accountable for providing decisions, support or advice when I’m requesting it instead of putting the onus back on me to make the decision I was asking them for, which I couldn’t do in the first place due to lack of knowledge and skill.

Q) Managers tend to all have their own style of leadership, such as directive, delegative, coaching and participative. How would you best describe your primary management style? A) My main leadership style would be coaching but I use others as well depending upon the situation.

Q) Would you say you use the same management style with all staff? A) No

Q) What do you differently with some staff and why do you do this? A) I lead in line with people’s knowledge, experience and personality – different strokes for different folks. Coaching is not OK for some. With staff that require firm direction with their role due to personality, ability and skill base I use directive. I identify the deficits and lead according to those. I have some staff that have proven they need no supervision at all so we just catch up so I know what’s going on and they can offload to me, then we carry on. One of those occasionally gets a bit negative about things so then I’ll seek her out more often for a bit, perhaps involve her in a special project or task, then she comes right again. I change my style for different staff because I find I get their best then, and I feel it’s a respectful way of managing people. I think that’s partly why we have a good team culture here.

Q) There are many control systems used in business such as performance appraisals, quality control, audits and health and safety checks. What are the primary control systems that you use at Summerset Aotea? A) H&S, quality & risk management, audits. Performance appraisals are used as per policy.

Q) Which of these do you find the most useful and why?
A) For me it would be quality & risk management, because it’s over arching and takes into account all aspects of the operation of the village. For instance it looks at clinical, financial, food services, H&S, infection control, human resources, S&M and property.

Q) Which control systems are used in conjunction with your staff? A) Mainly business plan with senior staff, H&S plan and quality with all staff. When I’m checking clinical material I’m doing this with the quality & risk management plan in mind.

Q) Which control systems do you refer to the most often?
A) Quality & risk management.

Q) What planning and control systems are in place between the site and Summerset as a company? A) Management desk file, although I don’t refer to this often. I report to Head Office via monthly reports, which gives them a snapshot of the prior month. And stats from Sway (the internal database system) which are referred to often by Head Office.

Q) Which do you refer to the least?
A) Performance appraisals. For the senior staff it’s a case of going through the motions so we can tick it off for that year. However they are good for the caregivers and the less senior staff, it’s a good tool to help them. It’s an opportunity to talk with them about specifics of their role, areas for growth and for them to receive some praise and recognition. Because I check in regularly with staff and there is ongoing positive reinforcement I find the PA ends up being a bit redundant. Task Two: Written Assignment

Every organisation, regardless of its size, will have developed and implemented a management system for it to run smoothly and accomplish the goals and objectives it has set. An effective management system, if broken down, will be made up of four main functions, which are planning, organising, leadership and control. This essay will explore aspects of these functions and how they interlink to build an efficient, effectively run organisation.

Planning is the foundation upon which the other three functions should be built. Planning provides direction and reduces resource wastage by ensuring actions taken are deliberate and not unstructured. Managers must plan in order to know how to run the business in the most efficient and effective manner possible. “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French writer, poet & aviator

There are many plan types that an organisation would use as part of their management system, however the starting point is the mission statement. The purpose of a mission statement is to capture the essence of your business’s goals and philosophy in a few concise sentences. It should sum up and reflect what your business is all about and is used to provide a defined path and guide decision making. A vision is different to a mission statement in that it is future-focused and meant to inspire and give direction to the employees of the organisation. Elaine J. Hom (2013) clarifies that a mission statement explains “Why does my business exist?” while a vision explains “Where do I see my business going?”

Once the mission statement has been refined, the business plan and strategic plan can be developed. These are a written statement of the business: what you want to achieve and how you plan to go about it. The business plan is a collection of sub-plans for all main aspects of the business, such as marketing, finance and human resources. A strategic plan is similar however it is future-focused. Chris Ahoy (1998) summarises strategic planning as charting a definite course based on strong indicators of what the business environment will be like looking three to five years ahead.

A marketing plan specifies who the enemy competition is, who the customers are, where they get their information and how you’re going to deliver the message to them (Mulvey & Britt, 2010). It can be a stand-alone plan or included within a business or strategic plan.

Contingency planning uses creative thinking and problem-solving techniques to assist a business in preparing for worst-case scenarios that could occur due to technical issues, people and/or communication difficulties or conceptual problems. It is a preventative plan that could potentially avoid the need for crisis management.

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, English writer, poet, philologist & university professor

Unlike strategic plans, operational plans are short-term, time and person-specific and are developed by breaking down the business plan into bite-size maps for managers and staff to follow. They enable the business plan to happen and if they are developed using S.M.A.R.T goals, they include staff involvement, and they are referred to regularly, they can be motivational for the business because progress is tangible.

Summerset Aotea has a corporate mission statement and business plan in place, which they refer to regularly. Operational plans are developed, reviewed and assessed at monthly Quality and Health & Safety (H&S) meetings and referred to informally during the month by the village manager (VM) and some senior staff.

Based on my interview I think Summerset Aotea demonstrates an effective planning system because they appear to have an established planning and assessment structure that is used both formally and informally. The VM incorporates business plan objectives into her day-to-day management and reviews operational goals regularly with staff. By doing this she is ensuring the team are part of the goal achievement process which is motivational for them. Although the mission statement is not referred to often, it is factored into the business plan during the plan’s annual reassessment.

The second management function is developing an organisational structure so staff roles, responsibilities, levels of authority and reporting relationships are clearly defined and so the desired organisational culture is developed. The structure type used will vary depending upon the industry and the business’s objectives.

There are a variety of organisational structure types, however the main types are formal, informal, functional, divisional or matrix. A functional structure is useful for larger organisations as employees are divided into function or role groups, such as marketing, HR and accounts. It has a narrow chain of command. A divisional organisational structure separates the business into divisions depending upon, for example, its geographical area or product, and each division operates autonomously. Examples of this would be a supermarket or a larger organisation that has North Island and South Island divisions. Although different to functional, it usually has a narrow chain of command.

“I would like to see anyone, prophet, king or God, convince a thousand cats to do the same thing at the same time.” ― Neil Gaiman, English author

Where functional and divisional structures are more traditional, the formal/informal and matrix structures have evolved in response to global changes and modern trends. The formal structure is where the organisation is governed and defined by a specific set of rules, for example job descriptions and policies, and tends to have many levels of management. An informal structure can exist within a formal structure. It is developed by people working alongside each other who find the formal structure restrictive and inefficient and so ‘blur the lines’ of their own role’s formal rules in order to increase productivity and efficiency. There is no chain of command or hierarchy in an informal structure.

A matrix organisational structure is mainly used when managing projects where people with similar skills are pooled together for a set period, for example a number of health & safety representatives from several divisions within a company working together on a short-term project. In this situation, staff report to both a functional and a divisional manager.

Summerset Aotea uses a combination of functional, formal and informal operational structures. The functional structure is demonstrated by staff being divided into departments based on their role, and formal because there are specific rules for staff to adhere to, such as policies and job descriptions. Because of the nature of their customer and due to staffing levels, the informal structure has developed so objectives are reached and issues addressed as efficiently as possible.

Based on my assessment of the interview, I think the structure in place at Summerset Aotea is relatively effective, however I would suggest that even with the increased efficiency that the informal structure provides, at times the staff resources are still stretched. The positive culture within the staff team ensures objectives are still met but if the culture should falter, which would in turn alter the dynamics of the informal structure, the current effectiveness might then be compromised. I would question if the village would operate as effectively without the informal structure in place. There also appears to be issues around the levels of delegated authority at site level and accountability for site support at head office level that are counter-productive for the VM.

Peter Northouse (2001) defines leadership as a process whereby one individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. Leadership is important for business because it facilitates the development of individuals, the maintenance of the team culture and the achievement of the business’s objectives and goals. A good manager is able to balance all three of these areas well, demonstrating a combination of task-orientated and person-orientated behaviours.

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt, longest serving First Lady of the United States

At Summerset Aotea the most common kind of leadership used is coaching, however directing and delegating are also used when appropriate. Their leadership style is very different from, for example, autocratic leadership. The coaching, or democratic, style is to lead consultatively. They value input from the team and encourage them to be self-directed. Conversely the autocrat will direct or dictate to their staff, discourage involvement in decision-making and maintain total control.

I believe the VM at Summerset Aotea demonstrates excellent use of situational leadership, as she uses a combination of leadership styles. She recognises the need to adapt her style according to the development level of each staff member and appreciates that the ratio of competence and commitment can fluctuate at times due to external and internal factors. For example she has identified there are some staff who are peak performers so she leaves them to their own devices as they have consistently proven they can work well autonomously. However, she ensures she randomly checks in, usually informally over a cuppa, to maintain the relationship and communication channels. At times one of those staff can fluctuate between being a peak performer and a reluctant contributor so the VM will increase the number of ‘cuppas’ and level of encouragement but in a way where it provides support rather than direction. With other staff she uses directive leadership, for example with new, enthusiastic beginners who are still orientating.

The final management function is control. Developing and establishing control systems in an organisation is vital because it’s the only way managers can measure whether organisational goals and objectives are being met and if not, the reasons why.

There are many control systems businesses use including performance appraisals, quality control, audits and financial control. A manager makes use of the business’ chosen control systems by applying them to the ‘control cycle’. This involves formulating and implementing plans; measuring their actual results against planned results using the control system; and taking any preventative or corrective action to realign the business to the plan. This helps to reduce risk by identifying problems early. Controlling also provides standardised processes to ensure consistency of product or service, all of which ensures the goals and objectives in the business plan can be successfully met.

“What’s measured improves”
― Peter F. Drucker, American businessman, educator & author

The systems of control used at Summerset Aotea include H&S, quality & risk management, infection control, audits and performance appraisals. The control system used most often is quality control. Quality control at Summerset Aotea encompasses all aspects of village operations including care, infection control, H&S, human resources and sales and its function is to evaluate the performance and document where each area is at by month end. Assessments are made by measuring the actual outcomes against the business plan and adjusting organisational plans accordingly.

Based on my assessment of the interview I think the control systems at Summerset Aotea are thorough and effective. The quality & risk management plan is monitored and evaluated by the VM throughout the month and measures are assessed against the plan at the following month’s quality meeting. Although there appears to be low priority placed on the annual performance appraisal system, because the VM is informally measuring and monitoring staff performance and the team culture throughout the year, any adjustments required would be likely to be picked up.

In conclusion, I have learnt that because the four management functions work in conjunction with each other, successful execution of all four is vital for an organisation to be successful in achieving its goals. The next step is developing effective leaders who can achieve this triumphantly, which I am excited about trying. For me, Paul Hawken, environmentalist, entrepreneur and author, best sums up what a successful manager looks like: ““Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them”.


Chris Ahoy, Associate Vice President, Facilities Planning & Management, Iowa State University, Facilities News, September 1998 Elaine J. Hom, BusinessNewsDaily, Feb 2013 http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/3882-vision-statement.html Jeanette Mulvey & Robert Roy Britt, BusinessNewsDaily, Jul 2010 http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4-creating-effective-business-marketing-plan.html http://kalyan-city.blogspot.com/2011/07/distinguish-difference-between-formal.html accessed June 2013 http://www.buzzle.com/articles/management-concepts-the-four-functions-of-management.html accessed June 2013 http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/hr020 accessed June 2013

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/business accessed June 2013

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