Control is the fourth major function of the approach to management. Control is defined as any process that directs the activities of individuals toward the achievement of organizational goals. Control is essential to keeping the organization together, through means of regulation. Simply stated control systems are used to minimize problems.
There are five essential steps that are needed to ensure that the control process is obtained. They are setting performance standards, measuring performance, comparing performance, analyzing deviations and taking corrective actions.
Setting performance standards includes ensuring that an organization is functioning at a proper level. That organization goals are set that includes profitability, innovation, and satisfaction of constituencies.
To implement the control process workers must know what is to be expected of them. Therefore, companies need to set standards. Standards levels help the company meet its expected goals. Standards target and establish desired performance levels, motivate performance, and serve as mark to which to assess actual performances. Different activities such as financial activities, operating activities, legal compliance, and charitable contributions can be used to set standards. Standards are sometimes viewed as objectives.
Whenever possible, standards should be expressed numerically to reduce favoritism or hurtful comments These type of numerical standards are 1) time standards, 2) productivity standards, 3) cost standards, 4) quality standards, and 5) behavioral standards. Time standards measures the length of time it should take to produce a product or perform a service.
Productivity Standards are based on the output of goods or services within a time frame. Next are the Cost Standards, which is based on the cost associated with producing a product or providing a service. Quality Standards are based on the level of perfection favored. Lastly there are Behavior Standards. Behavior standards are based on the how a company would like an employee to behave. These standards are a bit more difficult to rank.
Measuring performance is the second set in the control process. This is an evaluation process that involves observing and measuring performance. Evaluation requires accurate measurement of what is taking place. Problem and opportunities can be discovered in this phase. Performance stages are obtained from three sources: written reports, oral reports, and personal observations.
The third step are Written reports. These reports include memos, letters, reports, computer presentations, and other documents. An advantage of using written reports is the opportunity to revise them as needed. In addition it is a permanent record that can be saved, the report is exactly was stated and was not reinterpreted by someone other than the sender. In addition the receiver has more time to analyze the information. However there are disadvantages. One disadvantage is that the sender has no control over where, when, or if the information is read. Also the receiver may not understand parts of the message, and the message must be longer to contain enough information to answer anticipated questions.
Oral reports include face-to-face discussion, telephone conversations, and formal presentations or speeches. Some advantages are questions can be asked and answered. Feedback is immediate and direct, the receiver or receivers can sense the sender's sincerity or lack of sincerity; oral reports are both more persuasive and less expensive than written reports. Oral reports have disadvantages if a the topic at hand gets out of hand and people say things they normally wouldn't.
Then, there is personal observation that involves going to the area of activities and watching what is being done verbal or nonverbal signals. Personal observation does not provide quantitative data, information is usually in a general form or subjective. Although personal observation can be misconstrued as mistrust or lack of confidence, managers have agreed that there is no substitute for firsthand observation.
The third step in the control process is comparing performance with the standard. Managers evaluate performance in this process. To make sure they fit the standards. This would involve collecting of all necessary information and compare the pros and cons on the development and progress of an organization.
Although some standards are clear, control tolerances need to be established. In the analyzing deviation stage it will be specified how much corrective actions may be taken. For some small companies deviations from the standards are acceptable.
The final step to the control process is the corrective actions. Managers must consider what action to take to correct performance when deviations occur. This ensures that operations are adjusted where necessary to achieve the initially planned results. Those who have authority over the actual performance initiate corrective actions. However, not all deviations justify corrective actions, personal judgment is necessary in some cases. Corrective action may be either immediate or permanent. Immediate action is often aimed at correcting the symptoms. This type of an action is done right away reports that are to be followed because they depend on that report. The first priority would be to get the initial report done on time, in order to get the other reports back on schedule. An immediate corrective action may be 1) to authorize overtime work hours, 2) to add more workers on the report, 3) to get a director to coordinate the workload or 4) to re-adjust the scheduled time. Permanent corrective action is aimed at correcting the cause of the symptoms of problem. In the scenarios about a permanent corrective action would be to find out how the report got off schedule, and what could be done to prevent a re-occurrence of that type problem. Permanent corrective action must be taken for economical and effective operations at all times.
Appropriate corrective action depends on the nature of the problem. There are different forms of corrective actions, such as, disciplinary action, changing in procedures or method; a new way of check accuracy or maybe some form of employee training is needed.
Accompanying the five steps of the control process there are three types of controls. They are Feed-forward (Pre-control), concurrent control, and feedback control (Post - control) Feed-forward control (sometimes called pre-control or preliminary control) is aimed at preventing problems before they arise. Instead of waiting for results and comparing them with goals, a manager can exert control by limiting activities in advance. In this type of control, there are autocratic leaders. These leaders tell subordinates what to do and expect them to obey without question. Autocratic leadership is most effective when the task is simple, fairly repetitive, and where the leaders have only a short-term relationship with subordinates.
The second type of control is the concurrent control. This takes place while plans are being carried out. meeting with other groups.
The third and last type of control is the feedback or post-control. This implies that the problem is dealt with after the performance. Timing is an important aspect of feedback or post-control. When actual spending is compared against the quarterly budget or when a part of performance is compared to the projection made a year ago, then long time lags often occurs. If post-control performance is not timely, managers cannot quickly identify and eliminate the problem in order to prevent a greater harm. A laissez-faire approach that is used in the post-control types it states that leaders essentially make no decisions. A laissez-faire is an abdicator who cares very little for achieving productivity goals or developing their subordinates. In conclusion, the five steps to the control are all inter-dependent on each other to make for a more effective leadership of organizational members.