The Four Functions of Management: What Managers Need to Know (2023)

While most positions and departments within a business are tasked with specific duties based on particular knowledge, expertise, or company needs, managers can have a broader and more complex set of responsibilities. More than just specialized knowledge, management requires an ability to navigate numerous procedural, structural, and interpersonal challenges in the process of guiding one's team to the completion of various goals.

Originally identified by Henri Fayol as five elements, there are now four commonly accepted functions of management that encompass these necessary skills: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling.1 Consider what each of these functions entails, as well as how each may look in action.


One main role of a manager is creating a plan to meet company goals and objectives. This involves allocating employee resources and delegating responsibilities, as well as setting realistic timelines and standards for completion. Planning requires those in management roles to continuously check on team progress in order to make small adjustments when necessary, while still maintaining a clear picture of a company's larger aims and goals.

(Video) Leadership and Management | Part 3 of 4:The Four Functions of Management

Much of one's planning function consists of working independently to determine what responsibilities must be given to which employees, setting priority levels for certain tasks, and creating timelines. However, communication also plays an important role. For example, managers deal with planning when they meet with company leadership to discuss short and long-term goals, and when they communicate the specifics of a new project to their team or check-in periodically to ensure individual objectives are being met on time.


Along with planning, a manager's organizational skills can help to ensure a company or departmental unit runs smoothly. From establishing internal processes and structures to knowing which employees or teams are best suited for specific tasks, keeping everyone and everything organized throughout daily operations are important functions of management.

Organization isn't just about delegating tasks efficiently and making sure employees have what they need to accomplish their tasks, however. Managers also need to be able to reorganize in response to new challenges. This could come into practice in the form of slightly adjusting the timeline for a project or re-allocating tasks from one team to another. Or, it could mean significantly altering a team's internal structure and roles in response to company growth.

(Video) Four Functions of Management


Managers should be comfortable and confident commanding their team members’ daily tasks as well as during periods of significant change or challenge. This involves projecting a strong sense of direction and leadership when setting goals and communicating new processes, products and services, or internal policy.

Leadership can manifest itself in a number of ways, including recognizing when employees need an extra boost of reinforcement and praise to handling conflicts between team members fairly and decisively. Often, managers may function as leaders even during small personal interactions by modeling supportive, encouraging, and motivational qualities.


To ensure all of the above functions are working toward the success of a company, managers should consistently monitor employee performance, quality of work, and the efficiency and reliability of completed projects. Control (and quality control) in management is about making sure the ultimate goals of the business are being adequately met, as well as making any necessary changes when they aren't.

(Video) Four Functions of Management Planning, Organizing, Leading Controlling Video Lesson and Example Yo

How to Develop Key Management Skills

While some of the above functions of management can extend logically from experience and skills developed in entry-level positions, formal training and education may provide advantages. For instance, pursuing a business management degree can offer the opportunity to study management philosophies and best practices in order to help one prepare to pursue management positions following graduation.

Work to Develop Your Management Skills With an MBA

For those currently working in entry-level positions, seeking out a mentor at work and keeping an eye out for professional development opportunities can allow you to build the skills needed for management roles. Many people may also choose to return to school to pursue an MBA in order to help advance their business knowledge. Given that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will about 807,300 new management jobs created between 2016 and 2026,2 it may be sensible to hone your management skills.

Are you ready to take the next step? Learn more about online business degrees at AIU today.

(Video) Four Functions of Management

1.“What Are the Four Basic Functions That Make Up The Management Process.” Houston Chronicle. Retrieved from: (Visited 04/29/18).
2.“Management Occupations.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from: (Visited 08/31/18). This data represents national figures and is not based on school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.

AIU cannot guarantee employment or salary. For important information about the educational debt, earnings and completion rates of students who attended these programs, go to
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The Four Functions of Management: What Managers Need to Know? ›

Originally identified by Henri Fayol as five elements, there are now four commonly accepted functions of management that encompass these necessary skills: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. 1 Consider what each of these functions entails, as well as how each may look in action.

Why is it important for managers to truly understand the 4 functions of management? ›

The four functions of management are planning, organizing, leading and controlling. Successful managers must do all four while managing their work and team. These are foundational of any professional managerial position. Plus, there are other skills and specialized knowledge related specifically to the job you manage.

Why does a manager must be able to know the functions of management? ›

Understanding the key functions of management can guide you as you create the foundation of a project, achieve your goal and aim to become a better team leader . Learn more about the management functions and the skills you can learn to successfully perform them.

Which of the four functions of management is most important? ›

The third managerial function is leading, an activity that is often seen as the most important and challenging of all the managerial functions. In this stage, managers are expected to motivate employees to help them achieve their goals and objectives.

What are the four major functions of a manager and explain how they are related to one another? ›

They include: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. You should think about the four functions as a process, where each step builds on the others. Managers must first plan, then organize according to that plan, lead others to work towards the plan, and finally evaluate the effectiveness of the plan.

Why is it important for every manager to understand the many different management theories? ›

The Importance of Management Theories

Using management theory in the workplace allows leadership to focus on their main goals. When a management style or theory is implemented, it automatically streamlines the top priorities for the organization.

What is the most important function of a manager and why? ›

Controlling may be the most important of the four management functions. It provides the information that keeps the corporate goal on track. By controlling their organizations, managers keep informed of what is happening; what is working and what isn't; and what needs to be continued, improved, or changed.

Why is it important for all managers to recognise and understand the need for effective problem diagnosis and decision making? ›

Managers must effectively identify and solve problems that arise in their work. They can address issues such as reducing costs, improving efficiency, and addressing customer complaints by making informed decisions. Problem-solving helps maintain a positive work environment and increases the team's overall success.

What are the 4 functional approaches of management? ›

Over the years, Fayol's functions were combined and reduced to the following four main functions of management: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling.

How are functions different from the rules a manager must to do? ›

Managerial functions are different from managerial roles. Managerial functions inform the ways that managers meet the requirements of their duties. Managerial roles encompass the types of skills necessary to successfully complete those duties.


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