The managerial function of controlling is the measurement and correction of performance in order to make sure that enterprise objectives and plans devised to attain them are being accomplished. Planning and controlling are closely related.
Still, planning and controlling may be viewed as the blades of a pair of scissors, the scissors cannot work unless there are two blades. Without objectives and plans, control is not possible, because performance has to be measured against some established criteria.
Controlling is the function of every manager from president to supervisor. Some managers, particularly at lower levels, forget that the primary responsibility for the exercise of control rests in every manager charged with the execution of plans.
THE BASIC CONTROL PROCESS.
The basic control process, wherever it is found and whatever is being controlled, involves three steps:
- Establishing standards
- Measuring performance against these standards
- Correcting variations from standards and plans.
v Establishment of Standards
Standards are, by definition, simply criteria of performance.
They are the selected points in an entire planning program in which measures of performance are made so that managers can receive signals about how things are going and thus do not have to watch every step in the execution of plans.
v Measurement of Performance
Although such measurement is not always practicable, the measurement of performance against standards should ideally be done on a forward-looking basis so that deviations may be detected in advance of their occurrence and avoided by appropriate actions.
The alert, forward-looking manager can sometimes predict probable departures from standards. In the absence of such ability, however, deviations should be disclosed as early as possible.
If standards are appropriately drawn and if means are available for determining exactly what subordinates are doing, appraisal of actual or expected performance is fairly easy. But there are many activities that are hard to measure.
It may be quite simple to establish labour – hour standards for the production of a mass-produced items, and it may be equally simple to measure performance against these standards, but if the item is custom-made, the appraisal of performance may be a formidable task because standards are difficult to set.
Moreover, in the less technical kinds of work, not only are standards hard to develop but also appraisal will be difficult. For example, controlling the work of the finance vice president or the industrial relations director is not easy because definite standards are not easily developed.
The superior’s measurements are often equally vague, at the same time, if the department seems to be making the contribution expected of it at a reasonable cost and without too many serious errors, and if the measurable accomplishments give evidence of sound management, a general appraisal may be adequate.
The point is that as jobs move away from the assembly line, the shop or the accounting machine, controlling them becomes more complex and often even more important.