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 manager and of the lower level of management, that of supervision.
(a) The duties of a manager were first detailed the writer Henri Fayol. He detailed five ‘elements of management’ which guide the management task:
The first is to forecast and plan, that which he called ‘prévoyance,’ to look into the future and set objectives in an attempt to understand and control the future.
This element he further sub-divided into the need for unity; each department’s objectives being welded together for the common good of the organisation; continuity in short and long term forecasting; flexibility in the need to adapt to circumstances and precision in attempting accurate future actions.
The second element is to organise; to build the human and material structure of the organisation.
The third element (drawing on the military roots of management theory) is to command; that is 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 ‘Command’ may be an outdated idea, modern writers would suggest that ‘motivation’ is more appropriate, although ‘command’ has a clear meaning in terms of the ultimate responsibility of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.
The fourth element is to co-ordinate, Fayol saw this as the process of binding together, unifying and harmonising the activities of those employed in the organisation.
Finally, the element of 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.
(b) 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 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 a manager in that he or she is:
– in direct physical contact with non-managers on a frequent basis
– is the front line of management
– has the chief responsibility for seeing that others fulfil their duties
– has a dual loyalty and must be loyal both upwards and downwards
– has to face and resolve problems firsthand and often quickly
– actually directs the work of others
– directly enforces discipline
– due to the closeness to others, has direct knowledge and ability in health, safety and employment legislation
– 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.