Primary management functions

Primary and secondary management functions

The management science still doesn’t offer the definition of management that will satisfy everybody. The most widely used approach to management presumes that management is a process to achieve organizational goals and it is identical for organisation of any size, industry or sector. According to this approach managers perform three primary functions:

  • planning,
  • execution,
  • control.

Execution consists of two more stages: organising and motivating.

Four primary management functions have two common characteristics:

  • they require decision-making,
  • they require communication. Managers communicate to get the information they need to make an optimal decision and to explain the benefits of the decision to others.

As these two characteristics are woven into any managerial process and make all functions interrelated, they are called secondary or supporting functions of management. So almost any of today’s complex organisations has the following management functions:

  • planning,
  • organization,
  • motivation,
  • control.
  • decision-making,
  • communication.


Planning means defining performance goals for the organisation and determining what managers and employees should do to achieve these goals. Planning tries to answer these three questions:

  • Where are we now? Managers should consider strong and weak points in areas such as finance, marketing, production, research and development, human resources. This is needed to consider what can be done.
  • Where do we want to be? Managers evaluate opportunities and threats of external environment: competition, political and economic factors, technology, social and cultural changes to determine a company’s objective and possible restrictions that can prevent the company to achieve them.
  • How do we get there? Managers should decide what should be done by team members to reach set goals.

Planning sets the framework for managers and employees for taking decisions and aligning efforts.

It is important to remember that planning is not a one-off event and usually is done regularly for the following reasons:

  • goals change over time: organizations must change goals they have reached.
  • unpredictability of the future: changes in environment or internal reasons such as mistakes of managers can make old goals irrelevant. In this situation plans have to be reconsidered.


Challenges of Industrial Revolution in the 19th century required more organised approach to work. Large groups of people need some structure to get any work done. The organization function consists from the following:

  • developing a structure of tasks and works: managers have to structure many elements to ensure they are workable,
  • delegation: allocating human resources to ensure the accomplishment of objectives. Managers try to find employees most suitable for tasks. Delegation is the main tool with managers get the work done through other people.


The best planning and the most advanced organisational structure are useless when work is not done. Motivation is the process of stimulating people to actions to accomplish the goals. From 17th to the beginning of the 20th century a very simple motivation theory prevailed – that efforts of people depend on the pay offered to them: they would work better if they see the opportunity to earn more. The managers, therefore, had to find ways to offer more money for more efforts.

Later research proved this opinion wrong. Motivation is complex and depends on a variety of needs that change over time. To motivate their people managers, need to find out these needs and find a way to meet them.


Почти все, что делает менеджер, обращено в будущее. Руководитель планирует достичь цель в какое-то время, точно зафиксированное как день, неделя или месяц, год или более отдаленный момент в будущем. За этот период многое может случиться, в том числе и неблагоприятные изменения, способные заставить компанию отклониться от первоначального курса. И если руководство окажется неспособным найти и исправить эти отклонения от планов, прежде чем компании будет нанесен серьезный ущерб, достижение целей, и, возможно, даже само выживание компании, будет поставлено под угрозу. Контроль — это процесс обеспечения того, что компания действительно достигает своих целей. Существуют три аспекта управленческого контроля:

  • установление стандартов: точное определение целей, которые должны быть достигнуты в обозначенный отрезок времени. Оно основывается на планах, разработанных в процессе планирования,
  • измерение: измерение того, что было в действительности достигнуто за определенный период, и сравнение достигнутого с ожидаемыми результатами. Если обе эти фазы выполнены правильно, то руководство организации не только знает о том, что в организации существует проблема, но и знает источник этой проблемы. Это знание необходимо для успешного осуществления третьей стадии,
  • корректировка: стадия, на которой предпринимаются действия, если это необходимо, для коррекции серьезных отклонений от первоначального плана. Одно из возможных действий — пересмотр целей, для того чтобы они стали более реалистичными и соответствовали ситуации.

Making decisions

Managerial work requires thought, judgement and consideration. Managers constantly have to choose one option out of alternatives including options in planning, organising, motivating and control. Thus, making decisions is at the core of management profession. Jeff Bezos, the founder of once said that “seniors executives get paid to make a small number of high-quality decisions.”


Accurate information is required to take a right decision or to evaluate the possible implications of the problem. The only way to get this information is communication. Communication is the exchange of information between two and more people. Communications determine quality and strength of relationships in any context: personal or professional. Business is made by people and is also based on relationships and thus communication is crucial for any organization.

People in business exchange information not only to take decision, but also to communicate them. Plans can’t be implemented unless employees who work on them get all the information they need.

Managers should also communicate why a particular decision was taken as well as how employees can benefit from working properly to achieving set goals. This highly increase the chances to successfully implement plans. Communication is also important for the control function.

Managers need to what went well and what went wrong to understand the achievements of the goals of the company.

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