1. Controlling is one of the four functions of management equally important as planning, organizing, and influencing even though our book really devotes little time and attention to it. Most management books do the same thing. I don’t get it personally because I think it is such an important function and without it whatever managers do in planning, organizing, and influencing doesn’t get measured and will never reach the highest level of effectiveness and efficiency.
Reading about controlling in our book, can you explain, in your own words, why controlling is such an important component of the management process? What can you do as a manager to ensure that the control function is successful? (page 502).
Let me start with a quote from another student in a previous semester. “What gets measured, gets done
2.While we study controlling last, it doesn’t occur last. In real life, the four functions are not separate, individual steps, but are interwoven seamlessly into managerial decision making and action.
Planning includes setting goals. Those goals become the performance that we measure in the controlling function. What do we want to achieve with this organization and how are we going to measure success? Did we run the race and come in first or last? Did we score enough points to win the game? Did we earn enough money to repay our loans? Did we make enough profit with our company that it is worthy of continuing or would it be better financially to go and work for someone else?
Organizing can be measured too. Did we meet our production standards and make, on average, 100 widgets per day? Was the customer response time under 30 seconds? Did our managers live within their budgets? These are also important goals that need to be measured so fully understand our success or where we can make improvements.
And can we measure the influencing function? Absolutely! What was the morale of our workforce? What was the general indication of the performance evaluations? How was turnover? How many sick days did people take? How many customer complains did we receive about our associates? All of these are indications of a healthy or unhealthy workforce.
Measuring our progress generally means measuring lots of goals not just one. How could we measure the achievement of reaching our mission statement without measuring lots of different things? Generally those “things” we measure can be categorized into the other three functions of management? How are we managing in the achievement of our goals?
Think of an example of the control function in your workplace or in your life and share it with your fellow students. Be sure to discuss how it relates to one or more of the other functions of management and what exactly was being measured.
When my kids were in high school, like all parents, I wanted them to do well. How do you define “well”? Some parents will say they want their kids to do “the best they can”. How do you define “the best they can”? I always laugh at that! If you don’t set a standard then it is easy for them to say “I did my best”. Did you stay up all night studying? Did you skip the party so you could do your term paper? Did you ask for help with editing? What is your “best”? I don’t think these are good standards and it makes it difficult to complete the control function. So in my household, all As and Bs was defined as success. Anything that was a C was not acceptable! In other households that may have a different set of circumstances, other standards may be more appropriate. So Step 1 was measuring academic performance from their report cards. Step 2 was comparing to the standard of all As and Bs. And Step 3, any Cs and corrective action took place. Without corrective action, there was no reason to believe that the outcome would change the next grading period.
So if you don’t define your goal, measure your achievement towards the goal, and then either change behavior or reinforcement behavior, you’ll never achieve take positive steps to get closer to your mission. You’ll be flying blind!
What is your example?
3. Our book talks about many potential measures, or standards. Think about the organization you work for and identify one standard they use. What is the standard? How is it measured? Do you think it is effective in guiding managerial decision making?
What measure might you suggest as an additional measure for your organization?
I’ll give you an example of my own. At one point part of my responsibility was facilities maintenance. Basically that included grounds, custodial services, and mechanical repair and maintenance. It is really important for rooms in a college building to be clean and neat and present a good learning environment. I know you probably don’t think much about it but when you walk into a store, classroom, or office building, whether you consciously notice the condition of the facility or not, it does influence what goes on in the building! I would have loved to have had an opportunity to do a walk through every day to indicate how many rooms meet some established standard of clean and neat! If I could have given a good performance award for those custodians who continually met the standards, I think I could have not only improved our performance but also motivated others! Alternatively I could have isolated problems and changed processes and procedures to improve the performance in other buildings!
Measure performance – XX percent of rooms are clean, trash is out, desks are neat, boards are clean, walls and floors are clean.
Compare to standards – 100 percent?
Take Corrective Action – Identify the specific challenges where we did not meet the 100 percent and work with the custodian to change things that will help them reach the goal.
4.Do all measures have to be numbers or can they also be qualitative?
I will argue that anything you give me qualitatively can be made into a number and that numbers are better measures?
Agree or disagree?
5.One thing about the information we receive as part of the control process is that it must be timely and accurate.
Why? What happens if it is not?