According to Henri Fayol (1945), to manage is to forecast and plan, to organize, to command, to co-ordinate and to control.
Critically discuss Fayol’s perspective through an analysis of his and other views on management.
The roles of managers cannot be easily described. Some people such as Fayol, Stewart and Mintzberg, all have different interpretations of it. Mullins (2005) said that the role of managers where that they are “essentially an integrating activity which permeates every facet of the operations of an organisation”. Nowaydays, management plays an essential role in society and impact most people’s daily activities. Moreover, in the 1900s, large organizations, had to be managed, such as production factories. However, there were only few management models and methods available. Thankfully Henri Fayol (1841-1925) the first father of management and director of a French mining company introduced comprehensive thinking on management philosophy. He put forward general management theory that applies to every organization equally and in every field. He devoted most of his life to promoting his theory of administration (Fayol, 1949). Fayol was perhaps the first to note the need for management education (Brodie, 1967). He outlined the key functions of management, which had a significant impact on managers and the practice of management around the world. Indeed, Carroll and Gillen (1987, p. 38) argued that Fayol’s functions “represent the most useful way of conceptualising the manager’s job”. The principles of management are the factors for successful management. His principles of management and research were published in the book ‘General and Industrial Management’ (1916). In addition, Fayol is said to have identified five key functions or elements that comprised managerial activity. These functions of managerial activity are: forecasting and planning; organizing; coordination; command; and control. Moreover, many associate Fayol with other luminaries of management and organizational theory such as Taylor, Follet, Urwick, the Gilbreths, Gullick and Weber (Appleby and Burstiner, 1981; Bailey et al, 1986; Bedeian, 1979; Burns and Stalker, 1961; Clutterbuck and Crainer, 1990; Hodgkin- son, 1978; Thomas, 1993). Consequently, Fayol is portrayed as a pioneering figure who helped to lay the foundations of contemporary management theory (Appleby, 1981; Appleby and Burstiner, 1981; Clutterbuck and Crainer, 1990).
He formulated fourteen principles of organizing, which include division of work, authority and responsibility, discipline, unity of command, unity of direction, subordination of individual interest to general interest, remuneration of personnel, centralization, scalar chain, order, equity, stability of tenure of personnel, initiative, and esprit de corps (Moorehead and Griffin, 1998, pp. 463-464). These principles of management laid down by Fayol are used by managers to coordinate the internal activities of the company. Indeed the fourteen principles of Management are statements that are based on a fundamental truth. They serve as a guideline for decision-making and management actions. They are drawn up by means of observations and analyses of events that managers encounter in practice. From these principles, Fayol concluded that management should interact with personnel in five basic ways. These ways are to predict the future and allow the manager not only to deal with current problems but to “examine the future and draw up plans of action” for dealing with likely problems before they arise. Organization principles allow management to “build up the structure, material and human, of the undertaking.” Command “maintains activity among the personnel.” Coordination “binds together, unifies and harmonises activity and effort.” Control allows management to “see that everything occurs in conformity with policy and practise” (Jarvis, 2001, p. 2). Basically, these functions and principles show that Fayol wanted to streamline the organization and operation of the management arm of the business in terms of its own decision-making processes and in its relationship with the workers in the firm. As Moorehead and Griffin explain, the principle of the “unity of command” was designed to make management’s issuing of orders more efficient: “Employees should receive directions from only one person,” rather than receiving partial or even contradictory directions from more than one manager, and “unity of direction means that tasks with the same objective should have a common supervisor” (Moorehead and Griffin, 1998, p. 463).
Fayol focused on the single-product firm. He believed that “organization structure will not just evolve” but must be planned and institutionalized from the top down: “Organization design and structure require thinking, analysis, and a systematic approach” (Drucker, 1974, p. 523). Jarvis writes that his “theorising about administration was built on personal observation and experience of what worked well in terms of organisation” and “his aspiration for an ‘administrative science’ sought a consistent set of principles that all organizations must apply in order to run properly” (Jarvis, 2001, p. 1). Moreover today the business community considers Fayol’s classical management theory as a relevant guide to productively managing staff. However, other authors concede that Fayol never advocated an inflexible approach to his principles of management (Cole, 1982; Dessler, 1977); many others present these principles as if he intended an all-encompassing set of rules to be followed regardless of circumstance (Crainer, 1996; Davidson and Griffin, 2000; George, 1972; Holt, 1993). However, Fayol is credited with having initiated an approach to management thought that ‘focuses on managing the total organization’ (Davidson and Griffin, 2000, p. 48).
In addition, Mintzberg agrees with Fayol’s function that without planning a manager cannot be successful at what they do. However, planning helps organization to look to the future and predict a problem. Managers must arrange work so that organization’s goal can be accomplish, organizing is the structural part of management. Furthermore, without organizing there is no need for a manager. Fayol’s functions of management are organizing while Mintzberg says that organizing play a critical part of management. Therefore without organizing there will be no need for a manager. Fayol’s and Mintzberg’s views of management stated that manager must have good leadership skills. Indeed without a good leadership, management will fail. Both employees and manager will be able to communicate better and job completed effectively. Mintzberg doesn’t just look at the internal factors that influence managers but he also looks at the external influences as he uses the systems approach. Managers do not just spend their time planning, organising, commanding, coordinating and controlling, they also do other important task such as dealing with customers, going to meetings and building interpersonal relationships. Mitzberg said his findings were “as different from Fayol’s classical view as a cubist abstract is from a Renaissance painting” (Mintzberg, 1989, p. 9). Additionally, Tsoukas’ (1994) construction suggests that the relationship between Mintzberg’s roles and Fayol’s functions may not be so much one of antithesis but one of corollary. Fayol’s approach is quite similar to Mintzberg’s way of classifying manager’s jobs. Fayol’s suggested that there were 5 main roles of managers. Mintzberg suggests that managers have quite similar roles as they have to be able to be a leader and communicate well. Managers have to good leaders. If they have good leadership skills then they will get the trust from employees and the job will get done effectively. If they had a very weak leader then they would not have the authority to get anything done. And this would be a extremely bad for the business.
However, Frederick Taylor (1856-1915) was a contemporary of Fayol. Although Taylor’s work is sometimes compared with Fayol’s, it is important to realise that the focus of each is quite different. Wren (1994) notes that Fayol’s work was overshadowed by Taylor’s, even in France. Wren observes that Fayol viewed management from the executive perspective while Taylor focused on the other end. Henri Fayol introduced the concept of General theory of administration whereas Taylor laid down the concept of Scientific Management. Additionally Henri Fayol emphasized the working of top level management and F.W. Taylor stressed on the working of production level management. Indeed, Fayol’s management theory has universal applicability. Unlike Taylor, whose management theory applies to a number of organizations only. The basis of formation of Fayol’s theory is the personal experience. Conversely, Taylor’s principles rely on observation and experimentation. Fayol is oriented towards managerial function. On the contrary, Taylor focussed on production and engineering. The approach of Taylor is termed as Engineer’s approach. In contrast, Fayol’s approach is accepted as manager’s approach.
Moreover, Urwick has summed up the contributions of the two as: “The work of Taylor and Fayol was, of course, essentially complementary. They both realised that, the problem of personnel and its management at all levels is the key to industrial success. Indeed, they applied scientific method to this problem. That Taylor worked primarily on the operative level, from the bottom of the industrial hierarchy upwards, while Fayol concentrated on the Managing Director and worked downwards, was merely a reflection of their very different careers.” In addition, they felt the universality of management applied scientific methods to the problems of management. They also observed the importance of personnel and its management at all levels. Furthermore, they wanted to improve the management practices and developed their ideas through practical experience. The main aim of Taylor was to enhance productivity of labour and eliminate wastages whereas Fayol tried to develop a universal theory of management. One of the difference between them is that Taylor’s philosophy has undergone a big change under the influences of modern developments, but Fayol’s principles of management have stood the test of time and are well accepted even in the present days. Indeed, Fayol looks to the management in the wider perspective as compared to Taylor. In general, both men sought to find a framework whereby the organization could operate more effectively. As a result, both Fayol and Taylor are accused of dehumanizing the worker and making his work (and the processes of production and manufacture) increasingly mechanical. Taylor did not deliberately seek to dehumanize the worker with his contributions, but when management and worker came into conflict, his priorities on profit and productivity led him to side with management. Drucker points out that Taylor is criticized for dehumanizing workers, but Taylor’s aim “was first the desire to free the worker from the burden of heavy toil, destructive of body and soul” (Drucker, 1974, p. 24).
To conclude; Henri Fayol, the father of management thinks that «to manage is to forecast and plan, to organize, to command, to co-ordinate and to control ». He devoted most of his life to prove it. Fayol saw the organization as closed system where he focuses on the internal factor of an organization. Mintzberg says that management is more of an open system where his concern is about the internal factors and the external influences of the organization. Thus, Fayol and Mintzberg theories of management are important and both can be effective. Unfortunately, not only Mitzberg disagree with what Fayol says sometimes. Fayol and Taylor theories are not so contradictory but more complementary. However, Taylor was focused on improving productivity, with minimal focus on management. Whereas Fayol’s theory allows for more top down innovation in the long run, especially in terms of the human needs of the worker. Taylor’s approach inevitably treats the workers as if their productivity were the answer to all problems, including their own. And Fayol emphasis on management, decision making let the possibility to believe that maybe managers could change their attitude toward workers when the firm had been effectively organized. Taylor’s focus on output simply blinded him to the humanity of the workers. On the other hand Fayol’s theory would seem to leave room for growth on the part of those in power in the business.