Principle & Practice of Management

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Control Defined


Control is the process of comparing actual performance with established standards for the purpose of taking action to correct deviations. A system of controls presupposes the existence of certain standards. The plans provide the standards of performance which serve as the basis of controls. Controlling helps an organization to put its resources to best use, bring order and discipline throughout the organization, facilitate coordination of activities and cope with uncertainty and change, quite effectively.
The process of controls involves four steps: establishment of standards, measurement of actual performance, comparison of actual performance with the standards and taking corrective action when required.
Effective controls systems tend to have certain qualities in common. The controls system should be simple, suitable, economical, reasonably flexible, forward-looking, achievable, objective and acceptable.
Depending on the time at which controlled is exercised, controls may be classified into three categories: feedback control, concurrent control, and feedforward control. In a large organization, it is not possible to control everything. So, usually, a multiproduct firm puts attention on key result areas through a critical or strategic point control system. Management by exception is another technique when attention is drawn towards unusual or exceptional items only.
While controlling the human element, management should be careful enough not to rub people on the wrong side. The feelings, aspirations and attitudes of employees must be given weight while devising quantitative standards. Top management must find ways and means to strike a proper balance between persons, standards, and organizational objectives.


Control Defined

Control is an important function of management. It is an essential feature of scientific management. In fact, much of the precision of managerial education is focused on the improvement of control techniques.
The term ‘control’ may have controlled sensitive connotation due to its non-standardised use in diverse fields. It is generally used for putting restraints on the elements being controlled. It is also used for providing information and data for appropriate actions such as controls room of a railway station or shipyard. In managerial terminology, controls is ensuring work accomplishment according to plans. Thus, basically, control is a process that guides activity towards some predetermined goal.
The following are some important definitions of controls.
“In undertaking controls consists in verifying whether everything occurs in conformity with the plans adopted, the instructions issued and the principle established. Its object is to point out the weakness and error in order to rectify them and prevent the occurrence. It operates on everything, i.e., things, people, and action.”
—H. Fall
“Control is checking current performance against predetermined standards constrained in the plans, with a view to ensuring adequate progress and satisfactory performance.”
—F.F.L. Breach
“Controls, in its managerial sense, can be defined as, the presence in a business of that force which guides it to a predetermined objective by means of predetermined policies and decision.”
—Dalton E. McFarland
Thus, we see that control is a fundamental management function that ensures work accomplishment according to plans. It is concerned with measuring and evaluating performance so as to secure the best results of managerial efforts.

Nature of Control

Managerial controls has the following characteristics:
1. Control is a function of management: It is, in fact, a follow-up action to the other functions of management. This function is performed by all the managers in the organization to control the activities assigned to them.
2. Control is a dynamic process: It involves the continuous review of standards of performance and results in corrective action which may lead to changes in other functions of management.
3. Control is a continuous activity: It does not stop anywhere. According to Koontz and O’Donnell “Just as the navigator continually takes readings to ascertain the right course so should be the business manager continually take readings to assure himself that his enterprise or department is of the course.”
4. Controls is forward-looking: It is related to future, as the past cannot be controlled. It is usually preventive as the presence of controls systems leads to minimize wastages, losses, and deviations from standards. It should be noted that controls do not curtail the rights of the individuals. It simply keeps a check on the performance of individuals.
5. Planning and controlling are closely related with each other: According to Billy E. Goetz, ‘Managerial Planning seeks consistent, integrated and articulated program while managerial control seeks to compel events to conform to plans.
As a matter of fact, planning is based on control and control is based on planning. The process of controls uses certain standards for measuring performance which is laid down by planning. The controls process, in turn, may reveal the deficiency of planning and may lead to the revision of planning. It may also lead to the setting of new goals, change the organizational structure, improve staffing and make major changes in the techniques of directing.
6. The essence of control is action: The performance of controls is achieved only when corrective action is taken on the basis of feedback information. It is only action which adjusts performance to predetermined standards whenever deviations occur. A good system of controls facilitates timely action so that there is the minimum waste of time and energy.