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Managers and their Functions

Efficiency and effectiveness are different, but they are interrelated. For example, it’s easier to be effective if you ignore efficiency. If Hewlett-Packard disregarded labor and material input costs, it could produce more sophisticated and longer-lasting toner cartridges for its laser printers. Similarly, some government agencies have been regularly criticised for being reasonably effective but extremely inefficient. Our conclusion: Poor management is most often due to both inefficiency and ineffectiveness or to effectiveness achieved without regard for efficiency. Good management is concerned with both attaining goals (effectiveness) and doing so as efficiently as possible.

Where did the terms management or manager originate? The terms are actually centuries old. One source says that the word manager originated in 1588 to describe one who manages. The specific use of the word “manager: which is described as one who conducts a house of business or public institution, is said to have originated in 1705. Another source says that the origin (1555–1565) is from the word maneggiare, which meant to handle or train horses, and was a derivative of the word mano, which is from the Latin word for hand, manus. That origin arose from the way that horses were guided, controlled, or directed where to go—that is, through using one’s hand.

The words management and manager are more appropriate to the early twentieth-century time period. Peter Drucker, the late management writer, studied and wrote about management for more than 50 years. He said, “When the first business schools in the United States opened around the turn of the twentieth century, they did not offer a single course in management. At about that same time, the word ‘management’ was first popularised by Frederick Winslow Taylor.”

Describing what managers do isn’t easy because, just as no organisations are alike, neither are managers’ jobs. Despite that fact, managers do share some common job elements, whether the manager is a head nurse in the cardiac surgery unit of the Cleveland Clinic overseeing a staff of critical care specialists or the president of O’Reilly Automotive establishing goals for the company’s more than 44,000 team members. Management researchers have developed three approaches to describe what managers do: functions, roles, and skills/competencies.

According to the functions approach, managers perform certain activities or functions as they direct and oversee others’ work. What are these functions? In the early part of the twentieth century, it has been proposed that all managers perform five management activities: plan, organize, command, coordinate, and control. Today, these management functions have been condensed to four: planning, organising, leading and controlling.

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