The 4 Functions of Management Process and Their Application in Business

Editorial Team

four Functions of Management Process

The management process is quite detailed. It creates an environment in which people working together accomplish different aims. A manager, therefore, needs a systematic way of doing things. Even though most organizations’ positions have specific duties that can be executed based on particular skill sets, he/ she may have to do more than just that.

These top officials usually have a broader and more detailed set of responsibilities. A manager must know how to find his/ her way around several procedural, structural and interpersonal challenges while guiding the team to achieve different goals.

This brings us to the four commonly accepted management functions that detail the necessary roles a manager should be ready for. Let’s take a look.

Functions Of The Management Process

Henri Fayol initially identified these as five elements. However, they have, over time, been classified into four. They refer to a systematic way of doing things. Management is a process that requires managers to take part n several inter-related functions regardless of their skill sets.

These four management functions are planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. Managers are first required to develop a plan, organize resources following the plan, lead the employees through it, and control everything regarding the plan, which may involve monitoring and measuring its effectiveness.

We will explain each management function and how it is applied in business to foster understanding.

1.    Planning

This is the first management function that managers are expected to adhere to in the management process. It is quite detailed, and a part of it also involves decision making and determining the right courses of action.

One of the primary roles of a manager in any organization is peering into the future and predicting the possible trends or occurrences that may likely influence the working conditions. This is actually the job of a manager.

What then is planning? Planning is coming up with the goals of an organization and deciding the best means to achieve them. It encompasses decision-making, setting goals, and coming up with a future course of action after reviewing several alternatives.

The whole procedure explains why it is the first function of management. It maintains managerial effectiveness as it helps officials come up with a guide. A plan acts as a guideline towards the achievement of given objectives.

In a business setting, a manager must select missions, objectives and come up with all the necessary actions to achieve them. He/ she should sit down and look at different external factors such as competition and stakeholder interest before settling on a plan that takes care of all those.

The managers must also come up with a list of alternatives before consulting and deciding on the ones that protect or further the business’s interest, accelerating the achievement of the set goals. Planning is all about determining the position and situation the company will be in the future when a given course of action is applied.

It guides future activities, preventing rash and last minutes decisions, which may be bad for business. Therefore, a manager must foresee, visualize, and purposefully look ahead to ace the first management process function.

In a business setting, planning will mostly consist of working independently to determine responsibilities given to the employees, coming up with priority levels for given tasks, and creating timelines.

However, working independently does not mean that managers do not have to communicate. They are expected to communicate the project’s details to their team and work with them to ensure that they can meet the set objectives in time.

2.    Organizing

The gist of the work starts after successful planning. Organizing is all about the coordination of activities and resources. Simply put, it is the process that pushes the actualization of the established plans in motion, explaining why it is the second function.

A manager with the right organizational skills ensures that a company’s departmental unit runs smoothly. This is quite a detailed function cutting across establishing internal processes and knowing the right employees for given tasks.

One of the first duties of a manager after the plan conception is successful is organizing resources. This is an integral part of management that ensures the proper achievement of the set goals. It ranges from human resources to things such as technology and finances.

The manager must determine how the activities and resources will be assembled and coordinated. You will be shocked if you thought that managers have it easy. The management functions are more detailed than you can ever think.

Keep in mind that an organization is simply an intentionally formalized structure of positions and roles. Therefore, the manager should create roles for people to fill towards the achievement of the set plans and objectives.

The creation of roles is intentional as it ensures that all the necessary tasks aimed at achieving different goals are assigned to the right people. One does not wake up and come up with roles-it has to be guided.

The main reason behind an organization’s structure is to come up with an environment that accommodates and actualizes the best human performance. Therefore, while coming up with these structures, a manager should ensure that it defines the task at hand.

The manager must also tailor the rules to reflect the abilities and motivations of those available for the different roles. Here is a necessary step that a manager must undertake while organizing.

  • Staffing

This is a necessary step while making strides towards the achievement of any business objective as it dictates whether a project will be achieved or not. It is a detailed role that takes care of promotions, demotion, discharge, dismissal, and even transfer.

 A manager must have a complete understanding of the employees’ different strengths to know where they fit.  For the best staffing practice, a manager has to determine the positions to be filled and identify the requirements pertaining to them.

It doesn’t stop there. In an organizational setting, he/ she will have to ensure that the vacancies are filled and the right employees trained to accomplish their tasks effectively, as that determines successful staffing.

Staffing is necessary because it ensures that the right person is placed in a given position. Therefore, while choosing the right people for a given role, the manager must look beyond the job qualifications and focus more on behavioral approaches. Can the person lead other subordinates towards the achievement of the set goals and plans?

Organizing is mainly deciding where the decisions will be made, the right people for different jobs and tasks, and how resources will be obtained. It lays down the final framework for the achievement of the objectives captured in the plan.

3.    Leading

After all the plans have been laid and resources allocated, it is time for the manager to engage in his/ her main job-leadership. This involves managing, motivating, and directing people towards the achievement of the set goals and objectives.

A manager should be skilled at influencing people for a particular purpose or reason. He/ she should therefore be more of a leader than a boss. A manager must be confident and comfortable guiding, directing, and supervising different team members in their daily tasks. The same also applies when there are changes or challenges.

In an organizational setting, the manager should win the other employees or team members’ trust by showing a strong sense of direction and leadership when communicating new processes, products, services, internal policy, or coming up with different short-term goals.

Leading revolves around influencing and prompting the members of an organization to work together and further the interest of the organization, meeting the goals set at the planning stage. The manager must create a positive attitude towards the work and goals among the members of the organization.

Most people confuse leadership with authoritativeness when the two are quite different. Whereas both of these methods can get the work done, the latter does not give employees pride in their work, and most of them may not give their all.

Leading helps one to effectively and efficiently change the behaviors of the employees without applying too much pressure and making them feel unworthy. For example, the manager should explain the benefits of doing things in a given way and the drawbacks of the means the employees like using to help them understand why the business organization is coming up with new means.

This third function, therefore, entails several deferment processes and activities. A manager has to direct, communicate, motivate and coordinate while going about this function. Coordination and leading are often considered one. It allows a manager to achieve harmony among individual efforts speeding up the accomplishment of different group targets.

While leading, a manager must also motivate. It is an essential quality that influences people’s behaviors by following the right cause and channel that sustain human behavior in a given direction. One can motivate employees by giving incentives for those who meet the deadline first. This will get them on their feet, saving time. Employees are also motivated through praises and recognition. Acknowledging someone’s good work is the best way to encourage them to continue doing the same.

One has to be an effective leader to be an efficient manager. Keep in mind that leadership relies on fellowship. As a norm, humans are more inclined to follow those with means to satisfy their constant, incessant needs.

While leading, a manager needs to be a beacon of hope and aspiration. He/ she should use motivating leadership styles and approaches laced with good communication.

4.    Controlling

 This is quite similar to the second function. Controlling is the last step, which ensures that all the afore-mentioned three functions work towards the success of the business organization. It involves monitoring and evaluation, ranging from employee performance, quality of work, and the completed projects’ efficiency or strength.

Control is a broad aspect in management, which also involves quality control. Therefore, its main aim is to ensure that the ultimate goals of the business or project, laid down at the planning stage, are adequately met.

Control also involves making the necessary changes that were not present in the conception of the project. Simply put, it is the monitoring of the organizational progress towards the fulfillment of given goals.

It consists of measuring, comparing, deviation-finding, and correcting all the activities that are conducted to achieve the goals of objectives of the organization. It is just as important as the other management functions, or even more critical, determining a failed or a successful manager. 

Therefore, when controlling, a manager focuses on measuring performance, making comparisons with existing standards, and finding deviations before correcting them. These activities mainly consist of measuring the achievement of results of the actions taken towards achieving the different goals.

Notable means of control include the budget for expenses, inspection records, and a detailed report of the labor hours lost. Each of the control measures shows whether a business plan is working or not. In a business setting, an example of control would be inspecting all the employees tasked with completing a given project to ensure that they have delivered quality results.

In cases of persisting deviation, there has to be an indication of correction. The responsible persons should be identified, and necessary actions are taken for better performance when results differ from the planned actions.

Managers know that the best way of controlling output is by controlling what people do. It may be the last management function but definitely not the least. A plan can only be successful with the right control as it enables its accomplishment.

Therefore, to be a good manager, one must be able to practice control, which is seen from how he/ she come up with and use control measures.


All the four functions of the management process are inter-related and play an essential part in realizing set objectives. However, the time and labor spent in each function differ owing to the skills and positions of an organizational level. All in all, all managers are expected to adhere to them.