Meaning and Definition of Direction:

Directing is a function of management, which is guiding and leading people to work efficiently and effectively for the attainment of organizational objectives. Directing is the managerial function, which initiates organized action.

It is one of the most important fundamental functions of management and is a part of every managerial action taken. This area is primarily geared towards leadership, motivation and communication.

Ernest Dale defined as:

“Direction is telling people what to do and seeing that they do it to the best of their ability. It includes making assignments, corresponding procedures, seeing that mistakes are corrected, providing on-the-job instruction and of course issuing orders.”


According to Koontz and O ‘Donnel; “directing is a complex function that includes all those activities which are designed to encourage subordinate to work effectively and efficiently in both the short and long-run.”

Direction involves communicating and providing leadership to the subordinates and motivating them to contribute to the best of their capability for the achievement of organizational objectives.


Principles of Direction:

The following principles of direction are listed below:

1. Direct Supervision:


Every superior should maintain direct contact with subordinates. Direct supervision improves the motivation and morale of employees, increases their loyalty and provides the immediate feedback.

2. Participative Managerial Style:

The subordinate’s morale will be higher when their views are seriously incorporated into the managerial decision-making. This will assist the direction process easier since the direction, then, is not taken as a command but as a form of guidance for improvements.

3. Unity of Direction:


The direction must be clear and unambiguous and from a single chain of command, otherwise the authority will be undermined, resulting in disorder and confusion.

4. Follow-Through:

Direction is a continuous process. More issuing of orders and instructions is not enough and it is essential to ensure that the work is done in the desired manner. Therefore, a manager should follow through the whole performance of his subordinates. Follow-up action will help in keeping a check on activities, in telling subordinates where their deficiency, if any, lies and in revising direction wherever necessary.

5. Appropriate Techniques:


The techniques used for direction should be appropriate to the people, the task and the situation. Standard operating procedures are not always helpful in direction.

Elements or Techniques of Direction:

The direction as a managerial function consists the following techniques:

1. Issuing Orders and Instructions to Subordinates:

The issuing of orders and instructions is an essential step in the process of directing subordinates. An order is a fundamental tool of getting things done. According to Koontz and O’Donnell, “as a directional technique, an instruction is understood to be a charge (command) by a superior requiring a subordinate to act or refrain from acting in a given circumstances.”  


Orders and instructions reflect managerial decisions and initiate action on the part of subordinates. Orders may be general or specific, formal or informal, written or oral.

Thus an order should serve the following characteristics:

(a) The order should be clear and complete.

(b) The order should be reasonable and attainable.


(c) The order must be compatible with the objectives of the organization and with the interests of the subordinates.

(d) All order should follow the chain of command.

(e) Face-to-face suggestions are preferable to long­ distance orders.

(f) An order should be depersonalized and made an integral part of a given situation.

2. Supervising People to Ensure that Subordinates Performance Confirms to the Plan:

The term ‘supervision’ implies super and vision, i.e., expert overseeing of employees at work. It involves direct personal contact with subordinates. Supervision converts plans into action. Thus supervision is considered as an essential step in the process of directing.


3. Motivating Subordinates to Strive Whole-heartedly, towards the Achievement of Desired Goals:

Motivating employees will perform better. Hence, it will help to achieve the organizational goals and objectives.

4. Providing leadership to guide and counsel and subordinates in the best way of accomplishing their jobs.

5. Communicating with subordinates to create mutual understanding and teamwork.

6. Maintaining discipline and rewarding effective people.