Exactly what constitutes the management task is often unclear or misunderstood.
a) Explain the five main duties of a manager, according to the writer Henri Fayol.
b) Explain the differences between the role of a supervisor and that of a manager.
Professional accountants are often employed in a managing as well as an accountancy capacity. This requires an understanding of the responsibilities and duties of a manger and of the lower level of management, that of supervision.
a) The duties of a manger were first detailed the writer Henri Fayol. He detailed five ‘elements of management’ which guide the management task. These are:
I. To forecast and plan (‘prevoyance’): To look into the future and set objectives in an attempt to understand and control the future. This element is further subdivided into the need for unity (each department’s objectives being wielded together for the common good of the organization); continuity in short and long-term forecasting; flexibility in the need to adapt to circumstances and precision in attempting accurate future actions.
II. To organize: To build the human and material structure of the organization.
III. To command (draws on the military roots of management theory): To maintain activity amongst the workforce.” Command” may be an outdated idea, modern writers would suggest that ‘motivation’ is more appropriate, although ‘command’ has a clear meaning in terms of the ultimate responsibility of management.
IV. To co-ordinate: Fayol saw this as the process of binding together, unifying and harmonizing the activities of those employed in the organization.
V. To control: That which brings conformity with established rules and command, through ensuring that targets are achieved and objectives met. This idea again draws on the military roots of management theory.
VI. Supervision is an important and integral part of the task and process of management. The role of supervision is a critical one because of the direct contact and responsibility for the work of others.
It used to be said that a manager did his or her job getting others to do theirs; in many ways this sums up the role of the supervisor. The role differs from that of the management in that the supervisor is unique, being the interface between management and the workforce and is the direct link between the two.
The role of the supervisor differs from that of the manager in that he or she:
i. Is in direct physical contact with non-mangers on a frequent basis
ii. Is the front line of management
iii. Has the chief responsibility for seeing that others fulfil their duties
iv. Has a dual loyalty and must be loyal both upwards and downwards
v. Has to face and resolve problems firsthand and often quickly
vi. Actually directs the work of others
vii. Directly enforces discipline
viii. Due to the closeness to others, has direct knowledge and ability in health, safety and employment legislation
ix. Often has responsibility for negotiation and industrial relations within the department
However, management must ensure that supervisors understand organisational objectives and make clear the powers and limits of the supervisor’s authority and responsibilities.