Historical Perspective Of Management – Essay Example

Historical Perspective of Management In managing people today, one needs to use lessons from the practical experiences rather than heavily relying on the theoretical management principles. Henri Fayol, the famous French engineer, did exactly that. As averred by Fell (2000) in his published article entitled Fayol stands the test of time, Fayol believed that “planning, organizing, coordinating, commanding and controlling were the main elements of management” (Fells, 2000, par. 1).
Of the functions of management, planning is identified as the starting process of every management task. The manager must have clearly designed and stipulated plans to outline strategies for the successful execution of the project. He should have planned alternate options in case of failure of the current strategy.
Organizing is the next step of management function which immediately comes after planning. The materials or resources required for every endeavor that has been identified at the planning stage itself should be arranged at the organizing stage. The function of organizing encompasses coordination, which is the next step of the management process.
The coordination function is exemplified, for example, when different types of works may be required for a project which may be done partly at different places. Coordination integrates tasks and responsibilities between the members of the project in order to ensure the success of the project. The manager must act as a link in the co-ordination process.
Finally, commanding and controlling are the last steps in management action. If the project is done partly at different places, nobody, except the manager knows about the final outcome of the project. In tire manufacturing industry, for example, various parts of the tire, tread, beads, plies, etc. are manufactured at different places of the plant. These parts have different specifications for different types of tires like car tire, truck tire, among others. The manager is the primary and authorized person who is better equipped with comprehensive information about which tire should be manufactured with priority and for that purpose, which parts need to be manufactured at other locations. Based on the data, he is responsible in advising the workers at different sections like bead section, tread section, and ply section, on their accountabilities on the identified tasks.
According to Wren (1995), “Henri Fayol, an advocate of the experimental method, built his administrative theory from his experiences” (par. 1). Contemporary managers rely heavily on theoretical perspectives and academic credentials for solving problems. They could make wrong decisions when alternatives were based entirely on concepts and theories, alone. Managers must realize that, as in the case of every endeavor in life, practice makes attainment of a goal perfect.
Academic instructions only give directions and guide but not readymade solutions for everyday problems faced by the managers. Decisions of managers must be tailor made for the organization he is working for. For example, the management strategy which was successful in one organization could not be expected to conform to the needs of another organization.
Henri Fayol has formulated 14 principles for successful management, to wit: specialization or division of labor, authority with corresponding responsibility, discipline, unity of command, unity of direction, subordination of individual interest to the general interest, remuneration of staff, centralization, scalar chain/line of authority, order, equity, stability of tenure, initiative and spirit (Jarvis, 2005). Most of modern managers fail to delegate tasks and responsibilities to appropriate employees depending on skills, knowledge and abilities. As a result, the employee potentials are not maximized.
Another drawback of the current managers is that they will allocate only the responsibility, but they will forget to allocate the authority needed to execute the responsibility. An employee with only responsibility and no authority can be a waste in an organization. Discipline is an all important trait that each employee of every organization must be ingrained with. Not only the employees, but the manager themselves, should exhibit high standards of discipline.
The employee should never be confused with contradictory instructions from different superiors. The instructions given to the employees must be clear and unidirectional. Individual interests should never be given priority over the organizations interest.
Managers must be aware that their ultimate goal is to achieve the organization’s interest. To effectively do this, aside from ensuring compliance with the functions of management, as discussed above, the manager must be aware of theories of motivation, leadership, compensation, training and development, and maintenance of employees fall under their jurisdiction.
The compensation of the employees must be fair. Moreover fair treatment and assurance of stability of job will increase the loyalty of the employees towards the organization. The spirit of the employees must be kept high and for that purpose the managers must evaluate the needs and goals of their followers to enable them to apply the required motivational techniques which would assist in the accomplishment of organizational goals.
Overall, the modern managers have lots of lessons to be learned from Henri Fayol. Out of the all management theories he formulated, in one’s personal opinion, the theory of experience is the most important and relevant one for contemporary managers, in preparation for challenges in the near future.
Fells, Michael J. (2000). Fayol stands the test of time. Retrieved 02 October 2010 from

Jarvis, Chris. (2005). Fayol (1841-1925) Functions and Principles of Management.
Retrieved 02 October 2010 from
Wren, Daniel A. (1995). Henri Fayol: learning from experience. Retrieved 02 October 2010