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The ‘controlling’ function of management

/ 05:32 AM March 02, 2020

For new supervisors or managers, the standard PLOC (planning, leading, organizing, controlling) framework is still useful in preparing for their new role. Of these four basic functions however, “controlling” is not as intuitive or obvious—what exactly should be controlled, and how? We asked Allan Gamboa, our resource person on leadership and organizational deve­lopment, for some clarity and insight into this crucial function. Here are his inputs:

“Controlling” focuses on ensuring desired results are achieved. It ensures clear and aligned expected results from individuals, teams, departments/functions that will lead to the achievement of overall organization goals and objectives. This enables the company to monitor progress and measure periodic results to determine if it is on track for achieving its target. It also enables managers to provide the right support, guidance and consequences (rewards or sanctions) for impro­ving and sustaining individual and team performance.

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Here are three tips that can help you carry out the controlling function:

Measure the right things: Focus on effectiveness and efficiency of performance.

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The challenge in putting in place performance measures is often in identifying the correct ones. Some managers fall short of identifying performance measures—and end up assuming that activity and producti­vity will hopefully bring about desired results. Then again, there are some managers who end up introducing so many performance measures that they (and their people) end up getting consumed (and burned out) by the plentiful performance measures they need to work on achieving. The right balance lies in focusing on measuring the right things—those that will ensure effective and efficient performance (i.e., effective=achieving the intended outcome, efficient=preventing the wasteful use of resources).

Monitor and coach regularly.

Discipline if and when needed. Once performance targets are agreed at the beginning of the year (calendar or fiscal, depending on the organization), effective controlling requires that managers monitor progress and coach regularly. Consider a sheep herder who sits back and does nothing after telling the herd to proceed to a particular spot—crazy isn’t it? Similarly, managers need to make sure that everyone is heading in the right direction. They will need to reach out to and guide speci­fic individuals who may be going astray, and help them to correct themselves, their behaviors and even their approaches. It doesn’t end there. Some employees may find themselves (whether intentionally or unintentionally) going against established company po­licies, rules and codes of conduct. In cases like these, a manager will need to implement discipline, following established guidelines on sanctions and due process. If not done, it will send the wrong message to other employees about the infraction—that it’s alright and tolerated in the organization.

Maintain the integrity of your performance management system.

An organization’s performance management system serves as the report card for individual and team/departmental performance. In most cases, performance data generated by the system serves as input to other related systems such as rewards and promotions. Because of these implications, some mana­gers’ ratings tend to be influenced by their biases (whether positive or negative). That is, a manager who wishes to promote or to reward one employee out of compassion may rate the individual particularly high. On the other hand, a manager who may dislike a particular employee may rate the person poorly as a form of punishment. Maintaining the integrity of the performance management system calls for conscious objectivity from managers. It’s important for managers to check their biases and their intentions. The performance management system is intended to capture actual performance. Whatever consequences (positive or negative) they may eventually bring, should be treated/handled separately.

Gamboa will facilitate a course titled “Supervisory Essentials: From Task to People Management” on April 1-2, 2020. It will help supervisors, managers, department heads be equipped with management competencies to meet the demands of today’s business environment. If you want the program to be conducted exclusive to your organization, it can be customized according to your learning needs. INQ

The Inquirer Academy is at 4168 Don Chino Roces Avenue corner Ponte Street, Makati City. For more information about the workshops or if you would like to add your input on the article, please email [email protected], call (02) 8834-1557, (02) 8771-2715 or (0945) 2158935 and look for Jerald Miguel or Karl Paz, or visit www. inquireracademy.com. The author is the executive director of the Inquirer Academy.

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