What To Know About the Four Functions of Management

What To Know About the Four Functions of Management.

Once on vacation, I went into a Pennsylvania coal mine. It was a tourist thing, not an official working coal mine even though our tour guide said they still had to get it inspected every year.

What do I remember from that experience?
It was cold.

It was dark.

It was small and crowded.

I felt like the mine would fall on me at any time.

Thankfully, I’ve never had to work in a coal mine or really any dangerous situation like that. Because here I sit, behind a keyboard. The most danger I’m in is tweeting out the wrong thing and bringing shame and embarrassment upon ClickUp for years to come. (Follow us on Twitter to see what happens!).

Why am I mentioning coal mines? Because one of the most epic management philosophies was developed by a miner and engineer at the beginning of the 1900s named Henri Fayol.

He was one of the earliest business thinkers, like a Seth Godin for the age of mining. Though he probably never got a speaking gig at a cool conference, he did say this:

Management plays a very important part in the government of undertakings: of all undertakings, large or small, industrial, commercial, political, religious or other.”

What does that mean? Management is important and has a direct impact on the work activities at hand. You totally get that if you’ve ever been in a mine. You want to trust that the people literally above you know how to get you out. That’s the same for any business. You hopefully trust the management process–and the managers who are part of the organizational structure–to put you in a position to succeed. Organizations who neglect these functions of management are avoiding their responsibility.

Fayol did well in the mining industry and helped a few French businesses change their focus through his philosophies. He’s most well-known today for his principles of management, and his four functions of management (Fayol started with five, but the ideas have been refined over time).

Here are Fayol’s four functions of management:

  1. Planning
  2. Organizing
  3. Leading (Coordinate & Command)
  4. Monitoring (Controlling)

Few managers do those well–in fact, it’s not the strategy we often lack but the execution in the specific activities of our context that’s so difficult.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the four functions of management and how you need to re-think your approach to make them worthwhile for your company or organization.

1. Planning

Your organization probably has objectives they’re aiming to meet, and it’s your role as a manager to find a way to meet them. That’s called planning. In the planning process, a manager will take your business unit’s purpose and make a plan for how you will contribute to those overall organizational objectives. As a manager, you’ll have to plan for how to use your employees’ time and resources, along with delegating responsibilities as you see fit. Ideally, everything should be aligned to meet organizational goals.

Part of planning is creating the right projects, activities and plans to make the goals a reality. You’ll have to check in to see how the work is progressing and how your team is pushing the work forward. As a manager, you have to balance these plans with the organization’s overall vision, sometimes putting yourself in a tough spot with those you work with.

When you’re planning your department’s goals, you’ll have to strategize about the roles of your employees, what their strengths are and how they’ve performed in the past. This will also help you determine if you need to add more people or request additional resources for your team.

How To Plan Your Work with ClickUp

In ClickUp, you can develop projects and include your plans within the project descriptions. You may want to create a different project for each of your company’s goals and then create lists and tasks underneath those.

  1. Create your hierarchy with Teams and Spaces
  2. Make Projects
  3. Create lists

ClickUp gives you the flexibility to customize your work the way you need it.

2. Organizing

What any manager will quickly realize is that plans are hard to achieve without organization. That’s why you need more than just a project plan. You also need a way to organize and set up your work to be more productive. Ultimately, it’s on the manager to ensure that your department is running as efficiently as possible. This includes setting up your cadence of check-ins, knowledge management and evaluating your team’s workflow to ensure ultimate productivity.

It also means organizing and setting up tasks to put your employees in the best place to be successful with the right resources. This may mean extra expenses for new software, equipment or continuing education—all things you need to be aware of to help your team meet their goals.

Like any good manager, you may need to adjust timelines due to changes and unforeseen circumstances. You may have to re-think your plans as the work evolves and new contingencies arise. That’s part of the risk of any plan. Your projects may need to be delayed or your work re-prioritized to meet changing goals.

This is especially true if your senior management team shifts their goals and revenue projections. That isn’t always negative; often growth means new organization.

How To Organize Your Work with ClickUp

ClickUp helps you plan your resources and see what each team member is working on. Time estimates can help you gauge how long work will take, and then team members can track their time. The reporting features will show you how each task and project is progressing and give you insight if changes need to be made. Each task gives you a place to capture any important details.

    1. Add tasks and descriptions
    2. Create subtasks where needed
    3. Team member workload reports
    4. Time estimates
    5. Time tracking
    6. Statuses

3. Leading (Commanding and Coordinating)

Creating great plans and organization is only the start. You also have to communicate these ideas to your team. This is part of leading and the decision-making process. Leading doesn’t just involve inspirational speeches like in the movies, but also clear team communication about what is expected and what is happening. This is particularly true in instances of turmoil and change. Fayol often separated leading into commanding and coordinating, by taking control of situations and then coordinating what needs to be done. All of that can easily be wrapped up into leading.

Take for instance Uber’s recent leadership change. Uber under Travis Kalanick was highly successful from a growth perspective, taking the company from an unknown to a must-have for cities and consumers across the world. However, that hard-charging growth took its toll and fostered a toxic environment, giving its chief competitor Lyft an unexpected foothold.  Changes had to be made. But when new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi came in, it was with humility rather than haranguing.

“He didn’t come in guns blazing,” said Jessica Bryndza, Uber’s global director of people experiences and employer brand to CNET. “He came in listening.”

By successfully managing the culture transition, Khorsrowshahi has created a more positive environment that has helped Uber recover. He recognized what needed to be done (commanding) and then is implementing changes across the whole organization to realize growth objectives (coordinating).

How To Lead with ClickUp

    1. Assign more people to task or project if needed
    2. Offer useful feedback in comments with markdown and formatting
    3. Assign comments if specific details need to be managed
    4. Keep an eye on workloads and progress with reports
    5. Set statuses to understand where the work stands

4. Monitoring (Controlling)

I don’t really like the word controlling for this function, though that is the classic function. In controlling the work, you’re really monitoring how things are progressing. This is where you also have to manage change and to maintain clear goals and deliverables with projects. The manager in the monitoring stage is fighting off scope creep and is keeping the department focused on the task at hand.

The manager at this stage is also taking in feedback to understand how the product or features are working, and how it’s being received in the market. This is where adjustments to the overall strategy may be needed. The manager is also reporting to the upper management or C-suite about how work is progressing and if any radical updates to the forecast need to happen.

How To Monitor with ClickUp

  1. View reports
  2. Notification settings
  3. Status updates
  4. Set watchers
  5. Favorites



Going to the mine made me realize how much was at stake and how little room there was for error. No one wants to go into a mine without a plan for getting out. You can’t just go down there and “see what happens.” You must think about the sturdiness of your supports and breathing–all of that before you start doing the work you came down there for.

Even if you’re not heading into an actual mine every day, you are returning to some type of work day every day. And if you’re a manager, your employees like to know there’s a plan in place to reach objectives and how they’ll be equipped to meet those OKRs and objectives. They want to work towards something and not feel like the place will crash down on them or that they can’t breathe from all the work. Good managers will set the tone and environment to help employees feel comfortable to do their best work.

The four functions of management are key to not letting that happen. It’s what Fayol realized so many years ago.

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