17.2 The Planning Process

  • Outline the planning and controlling processes.

Planning is a process. Ideally it is future oriented, comprehensive, systematic, integrated, and negotiated. 11 It involves an extensive search for alternatives and analyzes relevant information, is systematic in nature, and is commonly participative. 12 The planning model described in this section breaks the managerial function of planning into several steps, as shown in Exhibit 17.3 . Following this step-by-step procedure helps ensure that organizational planning meets these requirements.

Step 1: Developing an Awareness of the Present State

According to management scholars Harold Koontz and Cyril O’Donnell, the first step in the planning process is awareness. 13 It is at this step that managers build the foundation on which they will develop their plans. This foundation specifies an organization’s current status, pinpoints its commitments, recognizes its strengths and weaknesses, and sets forth a vision of the future. Because the past is instrumental in determining where an organization expects to go in the future, managers at this point must understand their organization and its history. It has been said—“The further you look back, the further you can see ahead.” 14

Step 2: Establishing Outcome Statements

The second step in the planning process consists of deciding “where the organization is headed, or is going to end up.” Ideally, this involves establishing goals. Just as your goal in this course might be to get a certain grade, managers at various levels in an organization’s hierarchy set goals. For example, plans established by a university’s marketing department curriculum committee must fit with and support the plans of the department, which contribute to the goals of the business school, whose plans must, in turn, support the goals of the university. Managers therefore develop an elaborate network of organizational plans, such as that shown in Exhibit 17.4 , to achieve the overall goals of their organization.

Goal vs. Domain Planning

Outcome statements can be constructed around specific goals or framed in terms of moving in a particular direction toward a viable set of outcomes. In goal planning , people set specific goals and then create action statements. 15 For example, freshman Kristin Rude decides that she wants a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry (the goal). She then constructs a four-year academic plan that will help her achieve this goal. Kristin is engaging in goal planning. She first identifies a goal and then develops a course of action to realize her goal.

Another approach to planning is domain/directional planning , in which managers develop a course of action that moves an organization toward one identified domain (and therefore away from other domains). 16 Within the chosen domain may lie a number of acceptable and specific goals. For example, high-school senior Neil Marquardt decides that he wants to major in a business-related discipline in college. During the next four years, he will select a variety of courses from the business school curriculum yet never select a major. After selecting courses based on availability and interest, he earns a sufficient number of credits within this chosen domain that enables him to graduate with a major in marketing. Neil never engaged in goal planning, but in the end he will realize one of many acceptable goals within an accepted domain.

The development of the Post-it® product by the 3M Corporation demonstrates how domain planning works. In the research laboratories at 3M, efforts were being made to develop new forms and strengths of cohesive substances. One result was cohesive material with no known value because of its extremely low cohesive level. A 3M division specialist, Arthur L. Fry, frustrated by page markers falling from his hymn book in church, realized that this material, recently developed by Spencer F. Silver, would stick to paper for long periods and could be removed without destroying the paper. Fry experimented with the material as page markers and note pads—out of this came the highly popular and extremely profitable 3M product Scotch Post-it®. Geoff Nicholson, the driving force behind the Post-it® product, comments that rather than get bogged down in the planning process, innovations must be fast-tracked and decisions made whether to continue or move on early during the product development process. 17

Situations in which managers are likely to engage in domain planning include (1) when there is a recognized need for flexibility, (2) when people cannot agree on goals, (3) when an organization’s external environment is unstable and highly uncertain, and (4) when an organization is starting up or is in a transitional period. In addition, domain planning is likely to prevail at upper levels in an organization, where managers are responsible for dealing with the external environment and when task uncertainty is high. Goal planning (formulating goals compatible with the chosen domain) is likely to prevail in the technical core, where there is less uncertainty.

Hybrid Planning

Occasionally, coupling of domain and goal planning occurs, creating a third approach, called hybrid planning . In this approach, managers begin with the more general domain planning and commit to moving in a particular direction. As time passes, learning occurs, uncertainty is reduced, preferences sharpen, and managers are able to make the transition to goal planning as they identify increasingly specific targets in the selected domain. Movement from domain planning to goal planning occurs as knowledge accumulates, preferences for a particular goal emerge, and action statements are created.

Consequences of Goal, Domain, and Hybrid Planning

Setting goals not only affects performance directly, but also encourages managers to plan more extensively. That is, once goals are set, people are more likely to think systematically about how they should proceed to realize the goals. 18 When people have vague goals, as in domain planning, they find it difficult to draw up detailed action plans and are therefore less likely to perform effectively. When studying the topic of motivation, you will learn about goal theory. Research suggests that goal planning results in higher levels of performance than does domain planning alone. 19

Step 3: Premising

In this step of the planning process, managers establish the premises, or assumptions, on which they will build their action statements. The quality and success of any plan depends on the quality of its underlying assumptions. Throughout the planning process, assumptions about future events must be brought to the surface, monitored, and updated. 20

Managers collect information by scanning their organization’s internal and external environments. They use this information to make assumptions about the likelihood of future events. As Kristin considers her four-year pursuit of her biochemistry major, she anticipates that in addition to her savings and funds supplied by her parents, she will need a full-time summer job for two summers in order to cover the cost of her undergraduate education. Thus, she includes finding full-time summer employment between her senior year of high school and her freshman year and between her freshman and sophomore years of college as part of her plan. The other two summers she will devote to an internship and finding postgraduate employment—much to mom and dad’s delight! Effective planning skills can be used throughout your life. The plan you develop to pay for and complete your education is an especially important one.

Step 4: Determining a Course of Action (Action Statements)

In this stage of the planning process, managers decide how to move from their current position toward their goal (or toward their domain). They develop an action statement that details what needs to be done, when, how, and by whom. The course of action determines how an organization will get from its current position to its desired future position. Choosing a course of action involves determining alternatives by drawing on research, experimentation, and experience; evaluating alternatives in light of how well each would help the organization reach its goals or approach its desired domain; and selecting a course of action after identifying and carefully considering the merits of each alternative.

Step 5: Formulating Supportive Plans

The planning process seldom stops with the adoption of a general plan. Managers often need to develop one or more supportive or derivative plans to bolster and explain their basic plan. Suppose an organization decides to switch from a 5-day, 40-hour workweek (5/40) to a 4-day, 40-hour workweek (4/40) in an attempt to reduce employee turnover. This major plan requires the creation of a number of supportive plans. Managers might need to develop personnel policies dealing with payment of daily overtime. New administrative plans will be needed for scheduling meetings, handling phone calls, and dealing with customers and suppliers.

Planning, Implementation, and Controlling

After managers have moved through the five steps of the planning process and have drawn up and implemented specific plans, they must monitor and maintain their plans. Through the controlling function (to be discussed in greater detail later in this chapter), managers observe ongoing human behavior and organizational activity, compare it to the outcome and action statements formulated during the planning process, and take corrective action if they observe unexpected and unwanted deviations. Thus, planning and controlling activities are closely interrelated (planning ➨ controlling ➨ planning . . .). Planning feeds controlling by establishing the standards against which behavior will be evaluated during the controlling process. Monitoring organizational behavior (the control activity) provides managers with input that helps them prepare for the upcoming planning period—it adds meaning to the awareness step of the planning process.

Influenced by total quality management (TQM) and the importance of achieving continuous improvement in the processes used, as well as the goods and services produced, organizations such as IBM-Rochester have linked their planning and controlling activities by adopting the Deming cycle (also known as the Shewhart cycle).

It has been noted on numerous occasions that many organizations that do plan fail to recognize the importance of continuous learning. Their plans are either placed on the shelf and collect dust or are created, implemented, and adhered to without a systematic review and modification process. Frequently, plans are implemented without first measuring where the organization currently stands so that future comparisons and evaluations of the plan’s effectiveness cannot be determined. The Deming cycle , shown in Exhibit 17.6 , helps managers assess the effects of planned action by integrating organizational learning into the planning process. The cycle consists of four key stages: (1) Plan—create the plan using the model discussed earlier. (2) Do—implement the plan. (3) Check—monitor the results of the planned course of action; organizational learning about the effectiveness of the plan occurs at this stage. (4) Act—act on what was learned, modify the plan, and return to the first stage in the cycle, and the cycle begins again as the organization strives for continuous learning and improvement.

Concept Check

  • What are the five steps in the planning process?
  • What is the difference between goal, domain, and hybrid planning?
  • How are planning, implementation, and controlling related?

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Project management

The four functions of management: Overview + examples

Ben Brigden - Senior Content Marketing Specialist - Author

Being or becoming a manager can feel like a daunting task in today’s business world. But if you look closely, everything a manager does falls under four key functions:

Planning functions

Organizing functions

Leading functions

Controlling functions

While we can’t solve all the growing pains you face, we have some great news: No matter your industry or your level of management, you’ll perform this same set of functions. They may look different as a first-tier manager than they do as a CEO, and the problems within those functions vary endlessly.

But master each of these, and you’ll be well on your way to conquering nearly any business challenge.

A breakdown of the four functions of management

Blog post image

Let’s look more closely at each of the four functions — and the ways that effective managers leverage this framework to better meet their organization’s goals.

1) Planning

"Without a plan, even the most brilliant business can get lost. You need to have goals, create milestones, and have the right strategy in place to set yourself up for success." ~ Yogi Berra

Managers are responsible for the long-range vision and goals within a company. The planning function includes this vision and goal-setting along with the work of creating a plan to reach those goals. They identify business challenges, work on future-facing initiatives (such as growth plans, company goals, and business forecasting) and make decisions that move the business toward goals.

Another element of the planning phase of management is resource allocation or workload management . Typically, the manager decides which employees in the department are assigned to which projects, seeking to balance workload and maintain efficiency through this work. Managers often enlist the help of project managers ( a vital role for businesses across many industries) to determine workload and capacity. Or, in some cases where there is no formal project manager, managers may use project management tools themselves to fill this role.

Planning is essential within any organization, and it’s an important part of the management role for a few reasons. First, the rank-and-file employees are usually too busy completing tasks to step back and think strategically about the big picture. Second, people management tend to get there precisely because they have above-average decision-making, leadership, and planning skills.

Managers are typically responsible for several types of planning within an organization:

Strategic planning

The highest and most crucial level of planning looks at the long-range, big-picture view of the company. It identifies future threats and opportunities and sets long-term direction and organizational goals. Strategic planning isn’t concerned with day-to-day decisions and is looking instead at three-year plans, five-year plans, market trajectories, and similar big-picture elements.

In most organizations, top management does the bulk of the strategic planning. CEOs and other top-ranking leaders may rely on input from mid-level managers and will certainly inform them of the strategic plans, but most decisions here are made by the people in charge.

Tactical planning

Tactical planning looks at how to accomplish more midrange or short-term objectives — usually those that last a year or less. Tactical planning is more targeted than strategic planning and is informed by the strategic plan, setting a general course of action that will be fleshed out further in operational planning.

Middle managers usually complete tactical planning, taking the strategic plan and breaking down the high-level goals within it into smaller, more measurable and near-term achievable goals.

Tactical planning is more granular than strategic planning, but it still doesn’t delve into the details of day-to-day operations.

Operational planning

Operational planning, on the other hand, is all about those day-to-day operations — seeking to use the principles and strategies laid out in tactical plans to accomplish the big-picture goals in the strategic plan. Department managers, first-level leaders, and project managers often contribute to operational planning.

Weekly project team meetings are one example of operational planning in action. Project schedules, timelines, RACI charts , swimlanes, and Gantt charts are all tools used within operational planning.

2) Organizing

Next up is the organizing function, which refers to the way managers distribute resources, delegate tasks, structure departments, set staffing levels, etc. This function encompasses everything from assigning right-fit tasks to the appropriate team members to deciding how those team members relate to each other in an organizational structure .

If your company is growing rapidly, you’ll need more sales agents next year than you do this year (and more of just about every other role, too). At some point, even the structures and departments you have now will no longer make sense: you’ll need more managers to oversee those new hires, and you might need new divisions that wouldn’t have been feasible when you were smaller.

All of this takes careful organization from someone in a leadership role — which is why organizing is the second function of management.

Example of organizing functions

Managers have ongoing responsibilities to rebalance workload and even headcount as they respond to changes in the business landscape. Just 20 years ago, most marketing departments were doing little (if any) digital marketing, let alone content marketing or SEO. Today those areas comprise the majority of business for many marketing departments and agencies. And that same story plays out across numerous departments, roles, and business units.

Managers must keep jobs, job hierarchies, and resource allocation organized and appropriate for the business landscape of today — with an eye toward future needs and further changes.

Are you a manager or business leader at a creative agency? Find out why Teamwork.com is the project management software solution of choice for agencies .

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Every organization, from creative agencies to enterprise operations, needs a force to drive it forward: rallying the troops and pushing them toward a common goal. Move down through the layers of a business and you’ll find a similar need for teams, projects, departments, and any other organizational or work structure that’s in place.

This is the leading or leadership function of management — a crucial part of every manager’s job.

The leading function of management focuses on people (whether individual, teams, or groups) more than work tasks. That’s not to say that tasks don’t matter, but rather, how those people are or aren’t handling their tasks and responsibilities will influence the type of leadership response that managers ought to give.

Managers and business leaders provide both direction and inspiration to those who follow them. This can take all sorts of forms:


Encouraging or praising


Demanding or commanding

Additionally, leadership includes both people management and making the tough right calls that others might miss.

There are many approaches to leadership in management, each with its own pros and cons. And it’s important to understand that there is no one right style — successful managers skillfully move between approaches, as each has its uses.

We’ll use the situational leadership model popularized by author and business coach Marshall Goldsmith , which highlights four other leadership styles: directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating.

A top-down, more authority-driven style of leadership, the director makes decisions and provides strong leadership without much, if any, input from the person or team being led. This style is useful when leading new or inexperienced teams, training new employees without a background in your industry, and potentially when forging ahead into a new market or technology (but only when the leader has experience worth trusting).

This method doesn’t work as well when the manager isn’t a powerful, experienced figure or when the people being managed have valuable input to offer.

"Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out. Sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching, and the greatest things can happen" ~ Pete Carroll

A coach comes alongside skilled contributors, guiding them as they use their skills. The coaching style of leadership is much the same, working alongside team members yet retaining authority to make the final call. Coaches also develop potential or raw talent into something better and more useful, and it works exactly the same way in business.

Coaching is highly effective for employees who have input to give or raw talent that needs refining. It’s also effective with skilled employees who need help staying on target. Just like in sports, a coach can’t be better than the sum of the players on the team. So coaching may not be the best approach for inexperienced employees or those with significant performance issues.

Supporting steps back even further than coaching. This method assumes team members know what to do and how to do it, so the manager takes a more hands-off approach. Supportive managers often step into the relational aspects of a team, helping team members work better together.

This style of leadership also comes into play when individuals grow unsteady in terms of output or performance, offering support to a person who may need a hand getting through a rough patch.

Supportive management works best with highly skilled teams that still have some issues with interpersonal relationships, consistent performance, or other metrics.

The delegating style of leadership assigns tasks to employees (delegation) and provides little more than basic oversight once assigned, freeing the leader to spend more time on high-level work — like long-term vision and goal-setting for the project.

This method is very attractive to managers because in some ways it’s the easiest and least time-consuming. However, it only works consistently well with high-performing teams and team members who don’t need directing, coaching, or support.

4) Controlling

Controlling includes all of management’s efforts to make sure the goal (established way back in the planning phase) is accomplished. It includes ongoing analysis of the plan and iterative updates to that plan as needed.

The manager’s project monitoring component (the analysis of how well the project team is adhering to the plan) may overlap slightly with project management. Not every business or project gets a dedicated project manager, either. If you’re a manager and find yourself doing more project management than you’d like, a good project management software tool can help.

Teamwork.com is a robust project management suite that managers and project leads alike can use to improve their project workflows. Take a look at Teamwork.com’s powerful Resource Management capabilities .

Examples of controlling functions

Schedule and deadline management , employee training, performance evaluations, adjustments to budgets or staffing assignments, and resource allocation are all included within the controlling function.

Lead better — stay organized with Teamwork.com

The four functions of management can be a powerful framework that helps effective leaders categorize and prioritize their tasks and responsibilities, identifying where their particular leadership skills best fit within an organization.

But even the most successful manager can struggle to stay on top of long-range plans, detailed planning processes, and the specifics of multiple concurrent projects. All of this combined is just too much information.

Teamwork.com is a powerful project management platform that helps busy managers stay organized so they can focus on leveraging their management skills, not tracking down project details.

See more of what Teamwork.com can do for your business now - get started now for free, view our comprehensive pricing plans , or book a demo today.

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Trusted by 20,000 businesses and 6,000 agencies, Teamwork.com lets you easily track, manage, and customize multiple complex projects. Get started with a free 30-day trial.

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reflective essay on planning function of management

Teamwork.com: The all-in-one platform for client work

Learn how Teamwork.com helps you drive business efficiency, grow profits, and scale confidently.


  • Controlling
  • Stay organized with Teamwork.com

Ben Brigden - Senior Content Marketing Specialist - Author

Ben is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at Teamwork.com. Having held content roles at agencies and SaaS companies for the past 8 years, Ben loves writing about the latest tech trends and work hacks in the agency space.

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1. Introduction to Principles of Management

Planning, organizing, leading, and controlling, learning objectives.

  • 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.   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.

Figure 1.7   The P-O-L-C Framework

reflective essay on planning function of management

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.

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.

Key Takeaway

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.

  • Located at : https://2012books.lardbucket.org/books/management-principles-v1.1/s05-04-planning-organizing-leading-an.html . License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

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1.12: Primary Functions of Management

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Learning Outcomes

  • Explain the primary functions of management.
  • Differentiate between the planning, organizing, leading, and controlling functions of management.

We have defined management as a process to achieve organizational goals. A process is a set of activities that are ongoing and interrelated. Ongoing means that the activities are not done in a linear, step-by-step fashion where responsibility is passed from one activity to the next. Instead, the activities are continued as new activities are started. Interrelated means that the results of each activity influence the other activities and tasks. It is the responsibility of management to see that essential activities are done efficiently (in the best possible way) and effectively (to achieve the desired result).

Effective management involves four primary functions and related skill sets: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. Although there’s a logical sequence to the functions, in practice the four functions are often performed in a dynamic manner.

For example, a manager would need to develop or reference a departmental or organizational plan prior to executing on it just as you would reference a map prior to embarking on a road trip. The proverb “if you fail to prepare you are preparing to fail” underscores the importance of this function. However, just as when road or airport closures or other factors might cause you to change your original route, unanticipated internal or external factors might cause a manager to revisit and revise the original plan, requiring a change in the other functions and associated tasks. Thus, achieving organizational goals—arriving at your intended destination—requires ongoing management of the process and an understanding of the interrelationship of the four functions.

As Figure 1 illustrates, a factor that impacts leading, for example, will have implications for controlling, planning and organizing. In summary, it is a management responsibility to ensure that unanticipated changes are factored in to the process and the integrity of the process is maintained.

The four functions of management: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling are all connected to each other with lines.

Planning means defining performance goals for the organization and determining what actions and resources are needed to achieve the goals. Through planning, management defines what the future of the organization should be and how to get there. Strategic plans are long-term and affect the entire organization. A strategic plan bridges the gap between what an organization is and what it will become. Tactical plans translate strategic plans into specific actions that need to be implemented by departments throughout the organization. The tactical plan defines what has to be done, who will do it, and the resources needed to do it.

For instance, recall the example used at the beginning of this module. It described how ThyssenKrupp AG decided to become an elevator manufacturing and servicing company because of increased competition from Chinese steel. The management of the company set a goal of deriving the majority of its revenue from elevator-related activities. To do this, the management team made plans to create partnerships or take over existing elevator companies. The team devised plans to develop new human resources and to acquire other material resources. The company also had to divest existing steel-related resources to raise capital for the new initiative. This example is a long-term strategic plan that will take years to complete and require many changes along the way. But it starts by defining a goal and a preliminary path to achieve it.

Once plans are made, decisions must be made about how to best implement the plans. The organizing function involves deciding how the organization will be structured (by departments, matrix teams, job responsibilities, etc.). Organizing involves assigning authority and responsibility to various departments, allocating resources across the organization, and defining how the activities of groups and individuals will be coordinated.

In the case of ThyssenKrupp AG, the management had to determine how to support two very different sets of activities in order to achieve its long-term goal. Management needed to continue steel production activities to provide continuity of funds as the emphasis gradually shifted to elevator production. It also had to develop new skills and resources to build the company’s elevator capabilities. A new organizational structure was needed that could support both business activities as one was downsized and the other built up.

Nearly everything that is accomplished in an organization is done by people. The best planning and organizing will not be effective if the people in the organization are not willing to support the plan. Leaders use knowledge, character, and charisma to generate enthusiasm and inspire effort to achieve goals. Managers must also lead by communicating goals throughout the organization, by building commitment to a common vision, by creating shared values and culture, and by encouraging high performance. Managers can use the power of reward and punishment to make people support plans and goals. Leaders inspire people to support plans, creating belief and commitment. Leadership and management skills are not the same, but they can and do appear in the most effective people.

It is very difficult to motivate people when plans involve radical change, particularly if they include downsizing and layoffs. Many people are naturally resistant to change. When the change means loss of jobs or status, people will be very resistant. At ThyssenKrupp, the labor unions vehemently opposed the shift from steel production to elevator manufacturing. Although the people involved in the new business functions were excited by the plans, people involved with steel production felt abandoned and demotivated. Management would have been wise to get union support for its vision of the company’s new future.


There is a well-known military saying that says no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. This implies that planning is necessary for making preparations, but when it’s time to implement the plan, everything will not go as planned. Unexpected things will happen. Observing and responding to what actually happens is called controlling. Controlling is the process of monitoring activities, measuring performance, comparing results to objectives, and making modifications and corrections when needed. This is often described as a feedback loop , as shown in the illustration of a product design feedback loop.

An example of a control feedback loop when designing a product. The process involves the steps of Fix it, improve it, make changes; Sell the improved product; Assess progress (is it selling?); and Ask customers if they like the new product. The cycle then starts all over again.

Controlling may be the most important of the four management functions. It provides the information that keeps the corporate goal on track. By controlling their organizations, managers keep informed of what is happening; what is working and what isn’t; and what needs to be continued, improved, or changed. ThyssenKrupp had little experience in elevator manufacturing when it was making plans. It was developing new products and processes and entering new markets. The management knew it could not anticipate all the difficulties it would encounter. Close monitoring as the plan progressed allowed the company to make changes and state-of-the-art innovations that have resulted in a very successful transition.

Watch the following video for an overview of the management process and a simple example of how the management functions work together.

You can view the transcript for “The Management Process.mp4” here (opens in new window) .

Practice Questions



Who Directs Each Function?

Although these functions have been introduced in a particular order, it should be apparent that the different activities happen at the same time in any one organization. The control function ensures that new plans must be created. Leaders often step up as needed when a crisis or unexpected bump demands immediate action. All managers perform all of these functions at different times, although a manager’s position or level in the organization will affect how much of his or her time is spent planning as opposed to leading or to controlling.

Contributors and Attributions

  • Primary Functions of Management. Authored by : John and Lynn Bruton. Published by Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Image: Key Functions of the Management Process. Authored by : John and Lynn Bruton. Published by Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Image: The key functions of management . Provided by : Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Business Feedback Loop. Authored by : Tomwsulcer. Located at : https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Business_Feedback_Loop_PNG_version.png . License : CC0: No Rights Reserved
  • The Management Process. Authored by : Jeff Short. Located at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ir70kcHf-w . License : All Rights Reserved . License Terms : Standard YouTube License

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1 Introduction to Management

Learning Objectives

The purpose of this chapter is to:

1)  Give you a basic understanding of management and its importance

2)  Provide a foundation of the managerial functions of planning, organizing, leading, and controlling

Introduction to Management

Management is not a hard science.  Unlike chemistry or algebra where a right answer (often) exists, management is fluid, and subjective, and there are divergent perspectives on how to employ its principles.  But what exactly is management?  Most scholars have variations of the same definition that include a utilization of resources to achieve a goal.  Lussier (2021) defines a manager as “the individual responsible for achieving organizational objectives through efficient and effective utilization of resources” (p. 3).   The problem with this definition is that it implies that a manager has to be both efficient and effective, which eliminates the possibility of having a bad manager.  Each of us can probably contradict this definition by providing an example from our personal past.  However, this definition contains the basic elements of using resources to pursue goals.

An early management scholar, Mary P. Follett characterized management as “the art of getting things done through the efforts of other people” (Graham, 1995).   This definition implies both pursuing goals (getting things done) and utilizing resources (predominantly through people).  However, this too is missing an element, that of the organizational context.  An important consideration for understanding management is that the term organization simply refers to “a collection of people working together to achieve a common purpose” (Shermerhorn, 2013, p. 11).  This means an organization could be anything from your high school volleyball team to church or a corporation.  Including the term “organization” in the definition leaves open the possibility that management can be practiced in each of these settings, and broadens our use of the term management.  A comprehensive definition for management then, would be the pursuit of organizational goals through the use of organizational resources (Bateman & Snell, 2013).  Pursuit implies a chance of failure and organizational gives us a context.  This begs the question – how can we become effective at the pursuit of goals, or become more efficient in our use of organizational resources?  Being good at management requires an immense focus on both of these ends, and we can achieve this through the process of the planning, organizing, leading, and controlling functions of management.   These functions serve as the basis for the rest of the textbook because they are the essential tools we use to manage organizations.  Most of the context and examples for this book focus on the corporate use of management.  However, you should meet the concepts where you are in your professional or academic career – apply the principles to the context of your life, master the four functions for what you are doing now so that you can scale them to much bigger managerial endeavors later.

Management is not New

A broad understanding of management as resource utilization focused on a goal gives us a wide scope of situations and contexts in which to practice it.  For example, the Crow Indians employed a complex strategy to harvest an entire herd of buffalo by driving them off a cliff.  To funnel the herd to the lane leading up to the cliff they used a decoy (a hunter donned in a buffalo calf robe imitating a lost calf), incense to smoke them towards the lane, or rock piles to guide them to the lane (Nathan, 2018).  If we apply the basic principles of management in this context we can see these hunters used resources (rocks, incense, knowledge and tradition) to pursue a goal (procurement of food, tools, and clothing the bison afforded them).

reflective essay on planning function of management

At its core, this imperial supply chain used the same approach to achieve success th at a teenager might use in a playing video games.  If he rallys his friends after school in a game of Call of Duty to defeat their online opponents, he might also be considered a manager.  He uses his experience and knowledge of gameplay as well as weaponry within the game to pursue his goal of competitive domination.

These examples demonstrate that management is multifarious, and not at all a recent phenomenon.    Yet, when we hear the term management , most of us probably conjure an image something like that of a corporate vice president implementing a marketing strategy to meet quarterly sales goals.  The irony is that the corporate manager is utilizing the same tools as those of the native hunter, Spanish fleet admiral, and sophomore gamer.   Management is both universal and ubiquitous in that we all use variations of its elements.

The Four Functions of Management

The management process by which we pursue goals includes planning, organizing, leading, and controlling.  These are “ the how ” a manager pursues organizational goals, and are universally known as the four functions of management.  They stem from the work of a French mining administrator, Henri Fayol, who first identified management as a practice that could be improved through the use of five functions – planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling.  Since he published his work in 1916, we have decided that leading people through motivation and incentivization works much better than telling them what to do (e.g. commanding and coordinating).  We use the term leading instead of these practices.  Chapter 2 on the history of management will provide some insights regarding this change.  Nonetheless, he gave us a place from which to start.

Even if you have never stepped foot in a corporate office, or held the title of manager at your local Dairy Queen, you have no less used the functions of management in your personal pursuits.  A relevant example would be the process by which you manage your personal budget.

Reflection:  Are you already a manager?

Think about your personal or family budget for a moment, and answer the following questions:

1) Do you have your budget written down somewhere, or in an excel spreadsheet?

2) What are your financial goals?

3) How much do you put in savings, charity, and monthly expenses?

4) Where does your money come from (a job, your parents, a hobby, your spouse)?

5) If you have a budget shortfall during the month, what do you do?

6) How do you keep track of expenses to ensure your bank account remains in the black?

If you answered yes to question #1, then you are already engaged in the management function of planning.  You know where your money is being spent.  The same holds true for your financial goals.  If you want to leave college debt free, save for a down payment on a house, or go on an unforgettable spring break trip, you have defined your organizational objective!  Where you put your money is a function of how you manage your resources.  This organizing function is presumably in line with your financial goals.  For example, if you want to save for a down payment, you need to actually allocate your resources (income) to a savings account.  Moreover, where your money comes from is also the source of your organizational resources.   A budget shortfall might require you to employ the leading function of management.  The essence of leading is motivating other people to align with your plan.  What do you do if you need to pay bills, but don’t have the money?  Perhaps you ask your parents for a loan (need to sell this idea to them), or you might need to negotiate with a co-worker to let you take on extra shifts (show them what’s in it for them in return), or it might be the reality that you need to sell something to make ends meet by selling something (in which case selling requires you to inspire someone else to see value in what you are selling).   Leading might also entail convincing someone else in your circle to get on board with your gameplan (like a spouse, or sibling).  Finally, keeping track of your expenses to ensure solvency and pace with your goals is the core of the controlling function.  Do you keep receipts and check them against your online account expenses?  Do you update your spreadsheet after your bill automatically debits from your account?  Do you get an email notifying you have a low balance and are in risk of overdraft charges?  Each of these methods are ways to monitor your progress and decide if you need to make a change (short term or long term).

If you reflect on this example of your personal budget, or you worked to achieve a personal or team goal, you will likely conclude that you are already a manager.  This wide application of managerial thinking means that if you can master its principles on your personal scale, you can then amplify its use when you need to use it on a large scale.  Get good at leading your class project, organizing your club fundraiser, or helping your team win a conference championship, and you will later be able to magnify the scale to lead a marketing department, or corporate merger, and even diplomatic negotiations as a prime minister.

Mastering the four functions will allow you to apply the function of planning on a more complex stage such as evaluating the internal and external environments of your organization.  Using this analysis you can create an effective game plan to formulate a sustainable competitive advantage.  Developing an organizing skillset will allow you to propose a structure for your team that incorporates cross functional members and ways of thinking.  It will allow you to identify and recommend resources needed to pursue your plan.  Honing your leading skillset will afford you the capability to motivate your organizational stakeholders to partake in your strategy, and force you to consider the ethical implications of your actions.   Finally, implementing effective controlling allows you to check progress towards your goals and to recommend changes if you need to get on track.

Planning is the systematic process of making decisions about goals and activities the organization will pursue (Bateman & Snell, 2013).  To make a decision about the direction of an organization, the planning phase must begin with analyzing the environment.  Without a solid understanding of the context, the manager would have no basis to provide future direction.  The context gives a manager a point of reference for improvement, opportunity, and learning from past mistakes.  For this reason, the planning function should begin with analysis.  This analysis should consider both the internal factors such as culture, values, and performance of team members as well as the external factors such as competitive environment, legal regulations, economy, technology, social values, and demographics.

The second component of planning is to use this analysis of the environment to build goals, activities, and objectives.  For a major organization this might be the vision and mission statement of the organization.  For a smaller organization this could be a year end, or season end goal.  Some consider planning that point in your day or month that you step away from your desk, and think about the direction of your organization.  This requires you to reflect on your organization’s past, and determine how that impacts the direction going forward.

reflective essay on planning function of management

            Organizing is the process of assembling and assigning the human, financial, physical, informational, and other resources needed to achieve goals (Bateman & Snell, 2013).   The core of the organizing function is leveraging the resources to align with the determined goals.  Organizing human resources means first of all attracting a labor force that can help you pursue your goal.  Within the organization, managing the human element means assigning tasks, delegating authority, determining a structure and hierarchy.  Organizing the financial resources equates to making sure your capital is being utilized to meet goals.  If an organization decides they want to have a best-in-class customer service team, they better being willing to spend the money to attract people with the disposition towards serving others, and spend money on training, or a retreat to teach the agents the skillsets they need.  Marshalling physical resources focuses on the effectiveness of where you place and how you use physical assets.  An executive chef might re-arrange a kitchen to improve process flow, food quality, or mitigate safety risks for example.  Informational resources implies a leveraging and disseminating the organization’s knowledge in meaningful ways to achieve goals.  Connecting employees to how they contribute to the financial bottom line is a way of leveraging informational resources, as is using your company’s proprietary algorithm to predict stock prices or develop new products.

Leading is stimulating high performance by members of the organization (Bateman and Snell, 2013).  This function is getting members of the organization on board with your plan.

Normally, this means connecting with direct reports or teammates on a personal level.  Understanding what drives individuals within the team allows a manager to design strategies around motivating, incentivizing, mobilizing, and arousing a desire to contribute.

Imagine for a minute, that you analyzed the conditions of the organization, you determined a game plan to pursue and even directed resources to step in that direction.  You have successfully implemented the planning and organizing functions.  In this scenario, however, you did not give consideration to how your team or organization would be involved.  Do they agree with your direction?  Did they have input in the process?  Do they feel valued as a team member?  Do they understand their role in a successful outcome?   All of these questions are answered by the degree to which a manager is engaged in the leading function.

Having personal conversations, designing a bonus structure, or giving a rousing speech might all be considered leading the organization.


Control is installing processes to guide the team towards goals and monitoring performance towards goals and making changes to the plan as needed (Batemen & Snell, 2013).  Control does not always mean limited what the organization can do by having a hand in everything.  We might call this micro-managing, which is control in its extreme form.  Healthy control processes involve putting systems in place to make sure your organization is on track to meet the goals you established in the planning process.  Planning sets standards to compare against, and the control process is the dashboard that tells whether or not you are meeting the standard.  For example, a grocery store might set a goal of reducing shrink (that’s product lost to shoplifting, damage).  They decide that they want to reduce their shrink loss by 50%.  To achieve this plan, they will have to dedicate resources (more employees to monitor, rearrange loading dock).  You already recognize that step as the organizing function.  We then incentivize our employees by designing a bonus structure – i.e. if we collectively meet the goal, each employee shares in the savings.  If we stop there, we would have no way of knowing if we met the goal.  The control process solves this for us.  The last step in the grocery store manager’s managerial approach is to have each department head report their shrink loss at the end of the shift, and aggregate those in an excel spreadsheet.  In this way, the manager can see if the rearrangement of the loading dock has reduced the number of damaged canned goods that was happening under the old arrangement.  The manager can make changes if they see that shrink is not improving even after hiring a greeter at the entrance.

Monitoring performance is the first step in control.  After see the progress towards goals, the next step is to make changes.  In this way, the control process always leads a manager back to the planning phase of management.  There are only two outcomes to the control process.  You are making progress towards your goal, or you are digressing in your performance.  If you reach your goal, you will need to set new goals, which is the planning function.  If you are not progressing towards your goal, you need to analyze the environment and determine why not.  In this way the management functions are related and highly dependent upon each other, especially control and planning.

            To illustrate the application of the four functions of manager, consider the various contexts in Figure 1.1.   Under the personal budget, an engaged couple has decided to save for a house after getting married.  The softball coach must determine how to win a conference championship, and the corporate manager is working on a strategy to improve waning sales figures.

Figure 1.1 – The Functions of Management Applied

reflective essay on planning function of management

On the Importance of Studying Management

The purpose of this textbook is to provide you with firstly, a broad exploration of what management is – its elements and origins.  Secondly, the purpose of this textbook is to provide you with a managerial framework you can utilize to practice management at any level of complexity.  This framework emphasizes the four basic functions – planning, organizing, leading, and controlling.  Most management textbooks include a wide variety of academic terms and concepts that take focus away from these four functions.  Other textbooks will inundate the reader with descriptions of heuristics, focus on layers of management, or extraneous terms like the Shamrock organization that do not advance a practical understanding of management.  We have designed this textbook with the four functions of management at the forefront because these elements are so critical to the foundation of everything you will do in the managerial context.  This textbook provides a history of management and a chapter on ethics, but then focuses exclusively on the functions of management as the subject matter.  At the completion of this textbook, you should be able to understand, recognize, and apply these four functions of management.

The four functions of management (plan, organize, lead, and control) serve as the foundation for everything else you will study in your business education.  Mastering these tools at the most basic level, as well as the more sophisticated levels in classes you will take later, will best prepare you as a business professional (Dolechek et al, 2019).

Figure 1.2 – Management as the Foundation

reflective essay on planning function of management

Upon completion of a management principles course, you will progress towards the applications of the four functions of management in the upper level courses.  For this reason, management principles serves as a pre-requisite for most other management courses.   In marketing principles you will develop an understanding of how to analyze external conditions, and a course in information systems will help you design ways to collect more information to analyze.  This is the core of the planning function.  In human resources and organizational behavior, you will learn the dynamics of your ever-important resource of human labor, the organizing function.  In business ethics and applied management skills you work on understanding what drives people, and by association how to lead them based on that understanding.  Grasping business law and production operations will give you a deeper understanding of how to monitor progress (to meet legal compliance and to test production quality for example).  The entire discipline of accounting is a managerial function of control.  Constructing financial statements is done for the sole purpose of determining the performance of you organization so that you can make future decisions.  The capstone course of a business program is the business strategy class.  In this course, students are given an opportunity to demonstrate mastery of the four functions by including all of the functional areas of business in their decision making.

A Whale of an Example

You are the city manager of a coastal Oregon city.  On a quiet, rainy Tuesday, you walk into your office and put the coffee on.  As you take your first sip, your administrative assistant forwards you a phone call from the parks and rec manager.  “We’ve got a problem down here on the beach.  The tide just left a dead humpback whale on our beach.”  What do you do?  What. Do. You. Do??   Now, there are several options to dealing with the dead whale.  Consider the following questions:

  • 1) What is your strategy for dealing with this problem? ( Plan )
  • 2) What resources do you need to follow your strategy? ( Organize )
  • 3) What stakeholders do you need to get on-board? ( Lead )
  • 4) What steps can you take to make sure your plan is proceeding as you planned it? ( Contro l)

reflective essay on planning function of management

There are a handful of strategies we might naturally gravitate towards.  The feasibility of each strategy depends on how well you employ the functions of management.

Tow the whale back to sea – A crane, tug boat, and tow cable are needed.  Who might you need to include in this gameplan?  The coast guard might need to be involved to discuss any pertinent regulations.  A marine captain that can tell you about tides so that you can time your extraction, and insights about currents to indicate how far out you need to haul the whale once its buoyant.  Should you allow a marine biologist to provide advice on what sort of ecological impact this might have (like bring in unwanted sharks or seals).  How can you be sure the tow cable has enough tinsel strength to haul a bloated whale on a high friction surface like wet sand?   Does the crane have the capacity to move the carcass into position to be hauled?  If the whale is decaying, will the tow cable just pull through the rotten flesh?

Cut the whale up, haul it to the dump –  You will need a forklift, semi-truck, and chainsaw.  The first consideration here would be the logistics of pursuing this strategy.  You will need to find a truck with the towing capacity to haul large chunks of the carcass off the beach.  Can you ensure the weight of a loaded semi would not sink into the wet sand?  How much does a semi-loaded with a whale carcass weight?  You may also need to contact the county roads manager to determine if there are any bridges between the beach and the dump that have weight restrictions.   What sort of protective equipment would you need for the men slicing through the whale with chainsaws?  There are a few control processes that need to be put in place for this strategy to work.

Celebrate the whale – The objective of the city manager is to “deal with” the dead whale.  For most, this would mean remove it somehow.  For others, this might be a chance to celebrate the occasion, and establishing the experience in the culture and history of the town.  To celebrate the whale, the city manager can hold a competition like car dealers do to promote their cars – have contestants place their hand on the whale and the last person to withstand touching the grotesque, slimy, and malodorous creature, somehow wins a major prize.  This would require a sponsor to donate a prize (a car, a vacation) and the town can celebrate the occasion annually.  If the goal is to appease the community from the existence of the whale and its stench, celebration is one strategy to pursue that end.  You would need to include a biologist to determine if leaving the whale to decay after the festival would attract scavengers, and a water chemist to determine if a decaying whale creates toxicity problems for beach goers.

Blow it up! – The kid in most of us choose this option.  Definitely.  You might need to check with state officials to see what the protocols are on this approach.  The biggest question would be how much dynamite do you need to blow up a whale, or blow it into the ocean?  In Oregon, one stakeholder group you might contact is a mining company or the Oregon national guard.  Both of those groups have a lot of experience calculating explosive requirements.   What are the safety protocols you need in place to make sure that no one is injured?  Where will you be able to source enough explosives to achieve this goal?

Use of the four functions

Each of these scenarios contain some far-fetched elements.  But asking the right questions is paramount to turning any of these into a feasible strategy.  You first need to decide a path, then determine your resources before getting stakeholder groups on board.  For a high-risk situation like most of these solutions call for, you need to put control mechanisms in place to mitigate your risks.  If you type “Oregon’s exploding whale” you can see what has become the most-watching news broadcast of all time.  It shows you what happens when a city manager does not successfully navigate the situation using all four functions of management.

Critical Thinking Questions

How are the four functions of management related?

Which is the most important function of management?

Choose a historical event prior to the year 2000.  Analyze the leader’s use of the four functions of management during that event.

How to Answer the Critical Thinking Questions

For each of these answers you should provide three elements.

  • General Answer.  Give a general response to what the question is asking, or make your argument to what the question is asking.
  • Outside Resource.  Provide a quotation from a source outside of this textbook.  This can be an academic article, news story, or popular press.  This should be something that supports your argument.  Use the sandwich technique explained below and cite your source in APA in text and then a list of full text citations at the end of the homework assignment of all three sources used.
  • Personal Story.  Provide a personal story that illustrates the point as well.  This should be a personal experience you had, and not a hypothetical.  Talk about a time from your personal, professional, family, or school life.   Use the sandwich technique for this as well, which is explained below.

Use the sandwich technique:

For the outside resource and the personal story you should use the sandwich technique.  Good writing is not just about how to include these materials, but about how to make them flow into what you are saying and really support your argument.  The sandwich technique allows us to do that.  It goes like this:

reflective essay on planning function of management

Step 1:  Provide a sentence that sets up your outside resource by answering who, what, when, or where this source is referring to.

Step 2:  Provide the quoted material or story.

Step 3:  Tell the reader why this is relevant to the argument you are making.

EXAMPLE :  Let me provide an example of homework expectations using the type of question you might see in a critical thinking question at the end of the chapter.  Each of the answers you provide should be this thorough.

Question:  Explain why it is important to study management.

Management is important to study because it serves as the foundation for all other areas of business.  The four functions can be used in other business areas such as accounting, marketing, operations management and human resources.   All of the areas of business need people who know how to make a plan and allocate resources.  All of the areas of business need people who know how to motivate others, and to make sure they are on track for their organization’s goals.   For this reason, improving our mastery of management will make us more effective at whichever role we are in.   A good example of this foundation comes from research conducted on accounting firms in Romania.  Wang and Huynh (2014) found that accounting managers who embraced both managerial best practices and had the technical skills needed for accounting improved the organizational outcomes of their firms.  These findings suggest that business professionals need managerial skills to supplement the day-to-day roles they have.

As I reflect on management as a foundational discipline, I remember how my high school baseball coach approached our team after a losing season.  We were not a good team because we did not have fundamentals of how to grip a baseball, how to stand in the batter’s box, or how to field a ground ball.   That next year, he taught us all of these fundamentals and we won a lot of games.  It seems to me that learning fundamentals of management can have the same impact.  Being able to execute the four functions of management allows us to get better at how we approach marketing a new product, or improving operations processes.

Wang, D., & Huynh, Q. (2014). Linkages among corporate governance, management accounting practice and organizational performance: Evidence from a Southeast Asian country. Romanian Economic and Business Review, 9(1), 63-81.

Chapter References

Aho O.W., Lloyd R.A. (2019) The Origins of Robust Supply Chain Management and Logistics in the Caribbean: Spanish Silver and Gold in the New World (1492–1700). In:

Bowden B., McMurray A. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Management History . Palgrave Macmillan: London, UK.

Bateman, T., & Snell, S. (2013).  M: Management (3rd ed) .  McGraw Hill / Irwin: New York, NY

Dolechek, R., Lippert, T., Vengrouskie, E. F., & Lloyd, R. A. (2019).  Solving a whale of a problem: Introducing the four functions of management in a management principles course .  International Forum of Teaching Studies, 15 (2), 29-35.

Fayol, H. (1949).  General and Industrial Management . Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons Ltd:  London, U.K.

Graham, P. (1995).  Mary Parker Follett: Prophet of Management.  Harvard Business School Press: Boston, MA.

Lussier, R. (2021).  Management Fundamentals: Concepts, Applications, Skill Development.  (9th Ed).   Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA.

Nathan, R. (2018). The Grapevine Creek Buffalo Jump Complex: Interdisciplinary Research on the Crow Reservation, Montana (Doctor of Anthropology, dissertation).  Indiana University.

Shermerhorn, J. (2013).  Management (12th Ed) . Wiley and Sons: Hoboken, NJ

The Four Functions of Management Copyright © 2020 by Dr. Robert Lloyd and Dr. Wayne Aho is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Functions of management | reflective essay

  • Published: April 7, 2022
  • Updated: April 7, 2022
  • Language: English

About Management Processes

From the Business Strategy Game, I learned that first important process for a company to determine its future business path was to set a strategic and realistic planning about what is the company goal, how long the goal will be achieved and how to achieve the goal among the competition. In setting the plan, company should define first what is their mission statement or strategic vision. This mission statement is a statement which indicates the purposes and activities of the company’s business/goals in brief, clear and focus words. Along with mission statement, company must clearly define its objectives quantitatively within certain period. From these quantitative objectives, company could set a realistic and attainable long term strategic planning to allocate budget and resources in the company. In strategic planning, company should define clearly its target market, financial objective and competitive position among the industry. This strategic planning will be the direction of the company in running its business.

After setting the strategic planning, company should design an organization structure to manage the company effectively, by designating persons who will in charge in each roles and held responsibility in each area of the business in the company (marketing, finance, operation, sales and so on), especially the person who will be responsible as the leader of the company (as CEO). The role of CEO is very essential because he/she must lead company to the right direction in implementing company strategy to achieve company’s objectives. From the clear and effective organization structure, CEO and management will have clear legitimation and authority in directing all resources in the company to implement the company’s strategy.

Finally, the company should closely and intensively controlling and monitoring the performance of the strategy during implementation to assess its progress against the pre-defined targets and ensure that all the company elements were doing their parts and responsibility in the right track.

About Management Functions

In a company, management should establish the right and important functions which will run the company operational activities, define what are the responsibilities of each functions and ensure that each functions performed in accordance with the company objectives. In order to give more value to the company in terms of profitability, management should work together to set a strategy in making company’s output (product or services) more competitive in the market by considering all aspects involved. As an example, to gain more profitability company could set pricing strategy to be higher or lower compare to market but before decided the price, company should consider other aspects such as costs, quality and resources needed in creation of the product or services.

About Working in Teams

In working as a team member in the company, it is very important to determine a clear designation about who will act as the leader and the follower. Because if there’s no clear designation, potentially will cause the resources in the company to move to the wrong direction and this will destruct company effort in achieving its objectives. As a leader, a person should show the ability to manage and to coach the entire team member to do their tasks properly, and he/she should has willingness to listen and appreciation to his/her followers insights at the same time. And as a follower, one should give respect to the leader and obey the leader decisions. But it is important too for the company to define what is the follower assignment and designation, because if it is not clearly defined, the follower couldn’t perform nor contributed optimally in attaining company’s objective process.

What I plan to do in my work place from the experience and lessons I took from the BSG are :

As the leader of my unit

I will put more effort to be an effective and efficient leader of my unit and will put more awareness to all my team member that our jobs especially in designing the most efficient operational work flow in my company has essential impact in saving the company budget and optimizing company resources which will contributed in achieving the company’s objective especially in financial aspect and giving more value to the customer and shareholder. And furthermore I will spend more time and effort to evaluate designation and job description for each member of my team, to put the right person to the right job and responsibility. If the designation and job description were not fit or not clear to the team member, it will impact to the performance of the working unit itself because each team member do not know exactly what is their role in their working unit.

As a member of my management team

I will put more consideration and attention about financial impact of any decision that my management made. From the BSG, I see that all activities in each working unit must be contributed and affected to the company strategic planning especially in achieving financial goals. And I will put more respect to any member and any decision of my management team made, even though sometimes the decision seems to be hard to be implement, I will try to see it from wider perspective that the decision must be made deliberately and considered many important aspects which ending is to give more value for the company.

reflective essay on planning function of management

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Library Management

ISSN : 0143-5124

Article publication date: 5 January 2010

The purpose of this paper is to analyze students' reflective writing in terms of identifiable outcomes and explore students' thoughts on reflection and reflective writing as a process.


A mixed methods approach is taken with a qualitative analysis of 116 written reflections from MA Librarianship studying management over an eight‐month period. A quantitative statistical analysis assesses the relationships between reflective writing and a number of possible outcomes identified from the literature.

A significant relationship is found between seven of eight outcomes tested; academic learning, the need for self‐development, actual self‐development, critical review, awareness of ones' own mental functions, decision making and empowerment and emancipation. There is some evidence of a relationship between non‐academic learning and reflective writing, but it is not significant. A number of themes emerged from the reflective writings regarding reflection itself, with students seeing reflection as a positive activity, with benefits for the individual, groups and in the workplace, and identifying reflection as a skill that can be practiced and developed.

Practical implications

Reflection and reflective writing as a management skill has potential benefits for personal and professional development and improving work‐based practice.


This paper differs from the previous literature in presenting statistical evidence to confirm the relationships between reflective writing and a range of potential outcomes.

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Anne Sen, B. (2010), "Reflective writing: a management skill", Library Management , Vol. 31 No. 1/2, pp. 79-93. https://doi.org/10.1108/01435121011013421

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Roles and Funtions of Management in Healthcare Setting Reflective Essay

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For the health care setting to operate effectively in achieving its goals and objectives, it requires to implement the main management concepts. These include planning, organizing, directing, and controlling.

In a setting where nurses, therapists, and other healthcare staffs are located in a central position, management is relatively simpler than where the care of patients is managed out of a central location.

However, these four functions apply irrespective of location in managing health care leaders and their staffs (Management Functions in a Health Care Facility, 2012).

The administration undertakes planning by evaluating the current operation of the institution and developing plans that focus on the future of the heath center (Huber, 2006). In our case, the administration employs strategic planning technique in planning ahead to overcome unprecedented challenges.

The management achieves this by analysis both external and internal factors affecting smooth operations. The most common approach for accomplishing this task is using the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) method.

This tool helps the administration to determine the most cost effective action for business (Management Functions in a Health Care Facility, 2012).

As community health service providers, we plan for emergencies by ensuring that enough staffs are available to handle urgent situations, and equipping them. Even when we are offering our services out of the health center, we prepare emergency wards within our central facility.

In addition, we gather information from the community to help in decision making. We employ SWOT analysis to determine how to overcome institutional weakness such under staffing and delays in delivery of medical supplies.

Also, we evaluate threats such as ignorance among of clients regarding appropriate health care lifestyles. There are opportunities, for instance impressive service demand, and; therefore, it is possible to charge clients an affordable fee and still remain resourceful.

Apart from planning, organizing plays unique roles in management. This function mandates the health care management to organize its resources and plan for their proper usage in advance. This is a system that helps management to determine the internal doctorial configuration (Huber, 2006).

The management does this by considering allocations for different departments. The management also performs this function at whatever time they are selecting and authorizing certain departments to handle some clear-cut roles (Huber, 2006).

I, as the health center’s administrator, implement these roles in conjunction with my assistant and other trained health professionals. My assistant reports to me, whenever necessary, on the progress of daily operations and joins in organizing and reorganizing them.

We also work together prepare duty rosters for nurses and doctors. In addition, she handles bookkeeping, staff payroll, costs and maintenance, and coordinates with heath insurers and social services.

The next function of management in health care set up is directing or leading. This management function entitles the administration to control and take charge of staffs (Huber, 2006). Directing helps the company achieve it objectives. Also, it helps the health workers to achieve their personal and career goals.

In most cases, our management supports staff to meet these goals. This we do through motivation, open communication, and employing department management techniques. Management introduces incentive programs, which help to motive staffs to worker harder.

I occasionally join trained health care officers and engage them on how to improve our services. I persistently look for better ways of motivating them.

Additionally, I work closely with all staffs. Apart from giving out instructions, I sometimes, join them in treating patients whenever there is a shortage of doctors. The supervisors get my plans and communicate them to all workers. I develop plans that are beneficial to health care staffs, patients and the community.

Such plans include economical use of fare, lab apparatus and developing constructive relationships with patients. In addition, we do hold quarterly meetings, and I use the opportunity to communicate to all health officials on corporate goals. However, I do this during impromptu meetings, as well.

As a final point, Control plays a significant role in health care management. A key role under this function is establishing performance standards (Stahl, 2004).

Performance problems sometimes crop in; however, we commonly resolve them by setting high standards for all departments and clearly communicating our goals to departments that have problems.

Otherwise, if a department fails to attain set standards and it emerges that external factors have played in, then the management lowers the standards to accommodate all genuine interests. Most importantly, I endeavor to see all workers take control of the business by making decisions, but under my supervision.

I have, through experience, discovered that all the four management roles are crucial. This is because a weakness exhibited in one of them is displayed in the entire organization. However, we can argue that planning is the most pivotal role because all the other roles depend on it (Stahl, 2004).

I, therefore, as an aspiring leader, trained nurse, and student value to understand all functions of health care management. In so doing, I envision to be a highly skilled health care manager.

Huber, D. (2006). Leadership and Nursing Care Management (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.

Management Functions in a Health Care Facility – Yahoo! Voices – voices.yahoo.com. (2012). Yahoo! Voices – voices.yahoo.com . Web.

Stahl, M. J. (2004). Encyclopedia of Health Care Manag eme nt . Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

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IvyPanda. (2019, June 26). Roles and Funtions of Management in Healthcare Setting. https://ivypanda.com/essays/roles-and-funtions-of-management-in-healthcare-setting/

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Financial Management Reflection


Financial management (2010, para.1) defines financial management as planning for the future of a person or a business enterprise to ensure a positive cash flow. It captures the administration and proper management of financial assets. It also entails processes of identification and management of risks whereby reflective activity means integrating whatever has been learned in financial management into practice either where one is attached, in an internship or in gainful employment (Reuters, n.d,p.5). This essay is going to illuminate aspects of financial management and the reflective activities involved.

A financial manager is supposed to be having diverse knowledge relating to provision and interpretation of financial information, monitoring and interpreting cash flows and predicting future trends, managing budgets, efficient supervision of staff, conducting reviews and evaluation for cost reduction opportunities, analyzing competitors and market trends, and finally developing financial management mechanisms that minimize risks (Ray &Noreen, 1999, para 4).

Financial manager and management of budgets

Dosset (2004, p.1) posits that the drawing of good budgets is very central in the smooth running of any business venture. Good budgets are used for planning, coordinating and controlling the financial issues of an organization. In the budget, the financial managers address the fiscal integrity of an organization and the ongoing processes. The budget helps in formulation, presentation, and execution of planned activities by ensuring adjusting programs, review of reports, preparation of reports and controlling of funds (UNESCO,2006,p.6).

Managers and accounting

Financial manager’s work involves planning programs, adapting accounting systems, undertaking day-to-day maintenance of ledger, classification and recording of financial transactions, managing total accounting program, application of accounting concepts. (Prudential,2009, p.5).

Managers and managerial financial reporting

Managerial financial reporting encompasses recurring budget, accounting, financial reports, program operation evaluation, statistical reports and work performance reports. Involve provision of data to officials at different levels of management to come up with the most effective program (U.S. office of personnel management, 1963, p.5).

Financial managers and advice to managers

Financial managers offer advice to management from a financial perspective. They act as technical officers on matters pertaining to finances in any organization (U.S. office of personnel management, 1963, para.6).

Financial managers and paperwork management

They handle correspondence, control directives and disposition of records. They manage administrative control systems, services and processes (Debora, 2003, p.5).

Financial Managers and auditing

Auditing involves putting in place and modification of audit policies, programs, methods and procedures and attainment of high standards of auditing (Leacy, 2009, P.8).

The aspects of financial management that I have learned have been of great help to me especially when I was doing my internship in a renowned soft drinks processing company. I was able to use my statistical ability to collect and interpret quantified information relating to market trends. My knowledge of cost accounting enabled me to know how the beverage food company’s past performance was perceived by the competitors in the market. I was able to prepare reports that touched on the performance of different departments of the company. Some were updates on orders received by the company, sales and capacity utilization. I also prepared many analytical reports that touched on the profitability of different brands of beverages that we manufactured. I did reports that analyzed different developing opportunities in different locations of the country. When our company acquired a new production line and had to remove the line that there was there initially, some corporate organizations developed an interest in this old line. The services of an appraiser were then needed. I took the challenge and estimated the value of the old line appropriately. The appraisal process was accurate and all the parties were happy with whatever they got. My knowledge in auditing helped me to carry out basic and advance auditing techniques in different departments of the company. My knowledge of budget-making enabled me to draw budgets for different departments like the quality control department, production department, human resource department and marketing department. With the drawn budget, I was able to keep track of how different departments use the resources that were disbursed by creating a conducive environment for planning and controlling organizations’ funds. I was also in opposition to come up with the paperwork of the estimated income and expenditure of the organization. Most of the decision-making processes were made depending on the budget. The budgets I drew were used by the management of the beverage company to adjust, analyze and evaluate programs and activities. Future plans were made depending on the subsequent budgets drawn. At the beverage company, I did managerial financial reporting where I consolidated and reported on the company’s results. I prepared consolidated financial statements. I assisted in coming up with accounting policies and procedures. I oversaw the smooth operation and cost-effectiveness of operating procedures, programs and systems. When the external and internal auditors wanted assistance I was always willing to furnish them with the information they wanted.


Aspects of financial management like accounting, budgeting, managerial financial reporting, management analysis, auditing and statistics if substantially reflected in various government departments can help curb the loss of resources (University of Waterloo School of Accounting and Financial Management, n.d, p.6)

Debora, N. (2003). What is an Appraisal? Wise GEEK . Spark: Conjecture Corporation. Web.

Dosset, J.C. (2004). Budgets and Financial Management in Special Libraries.  Web.

Financial management. (2010). Economy Watch. Stanley: Stanley St Labs. Web.

Leacy, A. (2009). Financial manager . Prospects. Manchester: Manchester. Web.

Prudential. (2009). Manager Financial Reporting . New Jersey: Newark. Web.

Ray, H., Noreen, E. (1999). Introduction to Managerial Accounting. Accounting for management.com. Web. 

Reuters, T. (n.d.). Internal Auditing and Financial Management Package . New York: Web.

UNESCO. (2006). Budget and Financial Management . Paris: International Institute for Educational Planning. Web.

University of Waterloo School of Accounting and Financial Management. (n.d) Work term/ Professional reflection requirements . Waterloo: Ontario. Web.

U.S. office of personnel management. (1963). Position Classification Standards for Financial management Series.  Web.

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EduRaven. (2021, December 13). Financial Management Reflection. https://eduraven.com/financial-management-reflection/

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