This article throws light upon the five basic functions performed by managers in an organisation. The functions are: 1. Planning 2. Organising 3. Staffing 4. Directing 5. Controlling.

Function # 1. Planning:

“Planning is selecting information and making assumptions regarding the future to formulate the activities necessary to achieve organisational objectives.”

— Terry and Franklin

“Planning involves selecting missions and objectives and the actions to achieve them; it requires decision-making that is, choosing from among alternative future courses of action.”


— Koontz and Weihrich

Planning is the basic function of management that involves determination of objectives and devising ways to achieve those objectives. It fills the gap between where we are and where we want to go. It answers the basic questions of what to do, when to do, how to do and who is to do a particular action.

It is required for both business and non-business organisations. In business organisations, it is required at all levels (top, middle and low), all sizes (large, medium and small) and all purposes (profit or non-profit). However, top managers spend more time on planning than lower-level managers. Lower-level managers generally implement plans framed by top managers, though they make plans for their own units.

Planning is, thus, an all pervasive, primary function of management that aims at determination and successful achievement of objectives. It is an intellectual process. Managers use mental and conceptual abilities to analyse the organisational (external and internal) environment and optimally utilise resources to make various decisions. Planning is future-oriented and done in advance to achieve a goal in future. It has to be carefully done so that future uncertainties do not fail the plans.

Function # 2. Organising:


“Organisation is the structure and process by which a co-operative group of human beings allocates its tasks among its members, identifies relationships, and integrates its activities towards common objectives.” — J.L. Massie

Organising means creating a structure of relationships and assigning work to people down the hierarchy along with authority and responsibility to achieve organisational goals. It is division of work into units, assignment of duties to each member, defining relationships so that all members co-ordinate their work with the overall goals.

Organising is:

(a) Identification and classification of required objectives,


(b) Division of activities to achieve the objectives,

(c) Grouping of activities necessary to attain objectives,

(d) Assignment of each grouping to a manager with authority (delegation) necessary to supervise it, and

(e) Provisions for co-ordination horizontally (at the same or a similar organisational level) and vertically (for example, corporate headquarter, division and department) in the organisation structure.

Function # 3. Staffing:


Staffing means appointing people and placing them at the appropriate jobs. It identifies human resource (manpower) needs, fills the organisation structure with skilled people and keeps it filled with those people.

It is a managerial function of hiring people, placing them on jobs of their competence, training and developing them so that they perform their best at the respective jobs. A properly conducted staffing function helps to lead and control organisational activities. “The staffing function includes the process by which the right person is placed in the right organisational position.” — J.L. Massie

Placing the right person, with right knowledge, at the right place and the right time to perform organisational activities increases efficiency of the organisation.

Recruiting and selecting people with the best potential, training and compensating them develops future managers and promotes people to higher levels from within the organisation.

Function # 4. Directing:


Directing means activating. After plans are made, organisation structure is designed and people are appointed at various posts, managers direct, guide, motivate and lead the employees to positively contribute towards organisational goals. It is a function that deals with people.

It brings plans into action by the process of motivation, communication, leadership, supervision and team building amongst people working in the organisation. While planning and organising lay foundation of the organisation, directing initiates action on the part of workforce. People work to achieve organisational goals.

Directing is “a managerial function that involves the responsibility of managers for communicating to others what their roles are in achieving the company plan.” — Pearce and Robinson “Directing 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 instructions and, of course, issuing orders.”

Directing is, thus, working with and through human and non-human resources to accomplish organisational goals. It is an on-going process of understanding the behaviour of people as individuals and groups and ensuring their participation in various organisational activities.


Motivation, leadership and communication are the basic components of directing.

Motivation is a force that drives a person to action. In the context of business, it means inspiring workers to perform tasks that lead to goal accomplishment. Subordinates follow instructions if they are able and willing to do so. Motivation creates willingness to perform tasks that lead to accomplishment of goals.

“Motivation may be defined as the state of individual’s perspective which represents the strength of his or her propensity to exert effort toward some particular behaviour.”

— Gibson


The ability of people to influence the behaviour of others is known as leadership. Leadership is “influence, that is, the art or process of influencing people so that they will strive willingly and enthusiastically towards the achievement of group goals.”

— Koontz and Weihrich

Communication is exchange of ideas, messages and information between two or more persons, through a medium, in a manner that the sender and receiver understand the message in the common sense that is, they develop common understanding of the message.

“Communication is the art of developing and attaining understanding between people. It is the process of exchanging information and feelings between two or more people and it is essential to effective management.’

Function # 5. Controlling:

“Controlling is determining what is being accomplished, that is, evaluating the performance and, if necessary applying corrective measures so that the performance takes place according to plans.”

It ensures that objectives are successfully achieved. It involves setting standards of performance, measuring actual performance, comparing it with planned performance, finding deviations between actual and planned standards and taking actions to remove deviations.


It is closely associated with planning. Monitoring actual performance ensures effective implementation of plans. Though more closely associated with planning, it is related to other managerial functions also. It ensures that organising, staffing and directing functions are effectively carried out.

Though managerial functions are classified as five functions, they are not independent of each other. They are so closely related to each other that it is difficult to perform one without the other. Plans are made keeping in mind the organisation structure and ability of people to work according to plans.

Organising distributes authority and responsibility according to planned activities, staffing appoints people who can best perform the planned activities, directing motivates, guides and leads people to achieve the planned targets and controlling ensures there are no deviations in actual performance as against planned performance.

All these functions are inter-related. They affect and are affected by other functions. Managers must, therefore, carry out these functions in a manner that best serves the interest of organisations to achieve the organisational goals.

1. These functions are performed by managers at all levels in all organisations — business and non-business. They are, thus, called pervasive functions of management.

2. Though they are identified as separate functions of management, they are not independent of each other. They are contained within each other, that is, they are also dependent on each other. For instance, when a manager is performing staffing function, he is performing the planning, organising, directing and controlling functions within the staffing function. Similarly, when he is directing the activities of employees, he is also planning, organising and controlling the direction function.


3. There is no sequential order in which these functions are performed. Though in a new organisation, planning precedes other managerial functions, in an existing organisation, these functions are performed according to need of the organisation. One function may precede or succeed the other function. These functions are performed in a circular pattern where it cannot be identified as to which is the first managerial function.


These functions cannot be ranked in the order of importance. They are equally important depending upon which function is required to be performed when.