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The five functions of Fayol's management

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The five functions of Fayol's management

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About a century ago, the eminent management expert Henri Fayol formulated five main functions of management. If a manager performs these functions well, he will be as successful as possible in his work, other things being equal.

The five (5) functions of Fayol's management

Henri Fayol is a French engineer and one of the prominent theorists and practitioners of management since the early twentieth century. He is the creator of the so-called "School of Administrative Management" and the author of several important management concepts that have become a classic nowadays.

In 1916, Fayol published his greatest work, the book Industrial and General Administration. In it, he reveals the five management functions that every manager should perform.

The five functions are:

  • Planning
  • Organization
  • Commanding
  • Coordinating
  • Controlling
  • Let's take a closer look at each of Fayol's five management functions.

1. Planning

Planning is the first function of management. Planning is an attempt to predict the future of the organization and to determine the measures needed to transition to this new state.

At the heart of the planning process is the development of a formal action plan. This plan should be based on the resources available to the organization and on possible trends that may occur in the future.

Fayol believes that planning is one of the most difficult and important tasks for management, in which the entire organization must take an active part.

The ideal plan should combine:

purposefulness, i.e. the general plan to be supported by the separate plans of the smaller structures and units in the organization;

continuity, i.e. the planned actions to be considered as elements of a continuous process of development;

flexibility, i.e. the plan to take into account the possibility of unexpected circumstances;

accuracy, i.e. the plan should be as accurate as possible.

In line with the planning function of management, Fayol pays serious attention to forecasting, which requires the development of one-day, weekly, monthly, annual, five-year, and ten-year forecasts, which should be adjusted promptly given the circumstances.

At the time, Fayol's emphasis on planning and forecasting was something unique that other executives did not have in mind at the time.

2. Organizing

The organization is the second function of management. Organizing is the activity by which the company receives everything it needs for its operation - raw materials, tools, capital, and personnel.

Fayol pays serious attention to the so-called "Organizational structure" and assumes that the form of the organization depends mainly on the number of staff. As the number of people increases, so do the various functions that are performed in the organization, respectively the need for control over the work of people increases.

All this leads to a well-known model of organizational pyramid or hierarchy. In this connection, Fayol considers that:

"Each new group of ten, twenty, thirty workers needs a foreman to lead it. If these masters are two, three, or four, the need arises for one of them to be of a higher rank. Two or three with a higher rank need a head-to-head entire department.

The organizational pyramid should be built similarly until it covers the whole organization to its highest level. Also, each new boss should not have more than 4-5 subordinates. "

3. Commanding

Commanding is the third function of management. The order aims to achieve the optimal effect of the efforts of workers, in the interest of the whole organization.

Management success depends on a combination of personal qualities and knowledge of general principles of management. According to Fayol, a manager should remember and follow the following rules:

  • Try to get to know your subordinates better;
  • Fights incompetence;
  • Be aware of all the details of the contracts concluded between the company and the employees.
  • Give a good personal example;
  • Conduct periodic inspections in the organization;
  • Hold meetings with leading associates to give directions for action and emphasize the main priorities of the company;
  • Don't go into too small details;

Strive to create such a working atmosphere among the team that stimulates the unity of staff, energy, initiative, and loyalty of employees.

Concerning the Ordering function, Fayol attaches great importance to the importance of motivation as well as to the delegation of staff rights. Fayol believes that:

"The leader can stimulate the initiative of his subordinates by delegating rights to them, thus providing them with opportunities to fully realize their potential and skills. This can happen at the cost of making individual mistakes, the severity of which is significantly limited with proper control.

The manager can quickly turn a person with unspeakable abilities into a first-class specialist, not doing all the work for him, but helping him through the method of prompting. Yes, for this purpose the leader will have to humbly limit his pride. ”

4. Coordinating

Coordination is the fourth function of management. Coordination aims to ensure optimal harmony between the various activities of the organization.

Good coordination facilitates the work and makes the functioning of the organization more successful. This function is designed to balance the different aspects of the work, for example, to observe proportional spending in terms of available financial resources, production needs, stocks, and market demand.

For the sake of good coordination, Fayol recommends holding daily meetings. The purpose of the meeting is as follows:

"The meeting should inform the management of the company's work, discuss issues of cooperation between the various departments, and address issues of common interest.

Participants in such a meeting should not be concerned with planning, but with questions about the implementation of existing plans.

At the meeting, the discussion may take place only for a short period, usually not exceeding one week, in connection with the harmonization of activities and setting current priorities. "

5. Controlling

Controlling is the fifth function of management. Control is designed to ensure compliance with everything that happens in the organization with pre-defined plans, principles, and standards of work.

In such a context, control aims to detect errors and weaknesses in the work to neutralize them and prevent them from recurring in the future. As Fayol writes:

"Control affects everything - products, people, and operations."

Fayol believes that control should not be the sole responsibility of management. This should be dealt with by impartial quality managers who are not in a hierarchical relationship of power with the employees. Control of this nature is a valuable addition to management, which allows obtaining information that would otherwise remain inaccessible under normal control.


The five functions of Fayol's management are:

  • Planning
  • Organizing
  • Commanding
  • Coordinating
  • Controlling

Today, these features sound close to the mind, even elementary, but for its time, Fayol's ideas were extremely innovative and pioneering.

It is, therefore, no coincidence that Henri Fayol is considered the progenitor of ideas that have no analog in the theory and practice of management at this time.

Questions and Answers

Q1: What are the five functions of Fayol's management theory?

A1: The five functions are planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling. These functions provide a comprehensive framework for managers to effectively oversee and direct their teams and resources.

Q2: Why is planning considered the foundation of management according to Fayol?

A2: Planning is the foundational function of management because it involves envisioning the future direction of the organization and setting specific goals and objectives to achieve it. By carefully planning, managers can anticipate potential obstacles and opportunities, leading to informed decision-making and resource allocation.

Q3: How does organizing contribute to effective management?

A3: Organizing is crucial in effective management as it involves structuring resources, tasks, and human capital to ensure optimal efficiency and productivity. By defining roles and responsibilities, establishing clear reporting lines, and creating a well-defined organizational structure, managers can avoid confusion and streamline operations.

Q4: What does the function of commanding entail?

A4: The commanding function revolves around the role of managers in providing clear guidance, instructions, and leadership to their teams. Effective communication and motivation play a significant role in this function, inspiring employees to work towards the accomplishment of organizational objectives.

Q5: Why is coordination crucial in modern organizations?

A5: In today's complex and interconnected business environment, coordination is essential to align various departments and teams toward common goals. Through effective coordination, managers can minimize conflicts, encourage collaboration, and harness the collective efforts of employees to achieve greater synergy.

Q6: How does the controlling function aid in effective management?

A6: Controlling is a vital function as it involves monitoring performance, comparing it against predetermined standards, and taking corrective actions when necessary. This function ensures that the organization remains on track and deviations from plans are addressed promptly, thus maintaining efficiency and effectiveness.

Q7: Can Fayol's management functions be applied to contemporary businesses?

A7: Absolutely. Despite being introduced over a century ago, Fayol's functions are still relevant in modern businesses. They offer valuable insights and guidelines for managers to adapt to the changing business landscape and address new challenges effectively.

Q8: What challenges may arise when implementing Fayol's management functions in modern organizations?

A8: Some challenges include dealing with rapid technological advancements, managing diverse and global teams, and fostering innovation while maintaining control and coordination.

Q9: How can managers effectively apply Fayol's functions in their leadership approach?

A9: Managers can apply Fayol's functions by first setting clear and achievable goals through planning, then organizing resources efficiently, providing visionary leadership, promoting teamwork and communication, and implementing robust control mechanisms to measure progress.

Q10: Are Fayol's management functions static or adaptable?

A10: Fayol's functions provide a timeless framework but are also adaptable to suit the unique needs of different industries and organizations. Managers can adjust and customize their approaches based on the specific challenges and opportunities they face.

About the author

Alexander Jonas, Writer at Business Value-Oriented Principles

Alexander Jonas is a professor and lecturer at the University of Berlin. Author of numerous scientific papers in the field of management and entrepreneurship.

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