After reading this article you will learn about:- 1. Meaning of Direction 2. Nature of Direction 3. Importance 4. Principles.
Meaning of Direction:
Planning and organising provide foundation to the organisation and direction initiates action towards achievement of the goals. Having appointed the work force, managers ensure they work to achieve the organisational standards of performance and in the course of doing so, satisfy their personal wants and needs also. They act as catalysts for achieving organisational and individual goals.
They act as agents who influence the behaviour of employees to achieve the organisational goals and also ensure that organizational plans and policies satisfy the interests of the workforce. Managers, thus, direct employees’ behaviour towards organisational and individual/group 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
It is “getting all the members of the group to want and to strive to achieve objectives of the enterprise and of the members because the members want to achieve these objectives.”
— Terry and Franklin
It is important to create an environment in which people work as active group members to achieve the organisational goals. Managers use behavioural sciences to influence the behaviour of the work force. They remain in constant touch with the employees to ascertain their needs and forces that drive them to work. The motivational factors (monetary and non-monetary) that influence an individual to work are analysed while directing them to action.
Hersey and Blanchanrd define management as “the process of working with and through individuals and groups and other resources to accomplish organisational goals”.
They describe three important skills of managers that influence the behaviour of others:
Managers must know the problem or the situation that needs direction.
Managers adapt to the situation and understand it before directing others to act.
Having understood, analysed and changed their behaviour according to the situation, managers communicate the change in situation to other members so that they understand and change their behaviour accordingly.
Thus, after people have assumed their positions in the organisational hierarchy and an organisation structure is created, direction ensures coordination in the work at various levels. Every person in the hierarchy directs his subordinates and receives directions from superiors.
The process of direction, thus, flows from top to bottom. Direction does not merely involve issuing orders and instructions. It is the process of inspiring people through active interaction and, thus, includes three important elements.
Motivation is the 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.
People are guided to contribute to organisational goals with zeal and confidence. “Zeal is ardour, earnestness and intensity in the execution of work; confidence reflects experience and technical ability.” The ability of people to influence the behaviour of others is known as leadership. Leaders exploit human potential and transform it into output.
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, develop common understanding of the message.
Nature of Direction:
The following points highlight the nature of direction:
1. Process of action:
Direction initiates action at top level of the organisation and flows down the hierarchy. It follows that subordinates have to be directed by their superiors only.
2. On-going process:
Directing is not an intermittent function of management. It is a process of continuously guiding the behaviour of others.
3. Not supported by rules:
Since the behaviour of people cannot be predicted through mathematical or statistical tools, the function of directing is based on behavioural sciences. It is not supported by rules or regulations.
4. Directing is situational:
Managers influence the behaviour of employees according to situation. The directions change from situation to situation. Factors like environment, nature of workers, group behaviour, attitude towards work etc. affect directing.
5. Behavioural science:
Since directing deals with human behaviour, managers study different aspects of human psychology to understand how to influence their behaviour.
6. Understand group behaviour:
No person can work alone. While working in the organisation, he becomes part of the informal groups (formed on the basis of common interests of individuals). The behaviour of a person is different as an individual and as member of the group. It is, therefore, essential that managers understand the nature of group behaviour in order to direct effectively.
Direction initiates action on the part of employees. To ensure greater participation of workers in carrying out the organisational activities, they should take part in the meetings to discuss various direction policies.
Managers at all levels in all functional areas direct their subordinates. Top managers guide middle and lower level managers who further direct supervisors and workers. It is performed at every level of management.
Every person in the organisational hierarchy is superior to some and subordinate to others except those at the top and the bottom. Direction maintains and strengthens superior-subordinate relationships and inspires everyone in the organisation to have a common vision, that is, contribution to organisational goals.
Importance of Direction:
Direction puts plans into action.
Well executed direction function has the following merits:
1. Initiates action:
Direction initiates action that motivates people to convert the resources into productive outputs. It gives substance to managerial functions of planning, organising, staffing and controlling. People learn to manage the resources in the most effective way that results in their optimum utilisation.
2. Creates a sound work environment:
If directions are issued in consultation with employees (participative), it creates an environment of understanding where people work to their maximum potential, willingly and enthusiastically to contribute towards organisational goals.
3. Develops managers:
Managers who are personally motivated to work can also direct others to work. Managers develop their skills and competence to direct others to follow. If managers and employees work in harmony, it promotes skills of the employees and develops managers to assume responsibilities of higher levels in the organisation.
Motivation, leadership and communication help in bringing people together. They exploit employees’ talent to the fullest and also provide scope for their skill enhancement. This is beneficial for both the employees and organisation. Direction, thus, prepares future managers.
4. Behavioural satisfaction:
Since direction involves human behaviour and psychology, employees feel behaviourally satisfied and personally inspired to achieve organisational goals.
5. Increase in productivity:
Personally satisfied employees contribute towards output and efficiency of the organisation.
Direction gets maximum out of subordinates by exploiting their potential and increasing their capabilities to work.
6. Achieves coordination:
Directing aims at continuous supervision of activities. It achieves coordination by ensuring that people work towards planned activities in a coordinated manner. It integrates the actions of employees that increases their understanding of mutual interdependence and their collective effort to achieve the organisational goals. It also helps to harmonies individual goals with organisational goals.
7. Facilitates control:
Coordination brings actual performance in conformity with planned performance. The controlling function is, thus, facilitated through effective direction.
8. Facilitates change:
Direction helps in introducing change in the organisation structure and adapting the organisation structure to external environment. Organisation operates in the society as an open system and has to accept social changes for its survival and growth. People are not easily receptive to changes. Direction helps in changing attitude of people towards change and accepts it as a way of life.
9. Facilitates growth:
Organisation open to change is responsive to growth. Direction harmonizes physical, financial and human resources, balances various parts of the organisation and creates commitment amongst people to raise their standards of performance.
Principles of Direction:
Direction function deals with people. Understanding the behaviour of people is a complex phenomenon and directing them to contribute to organisational goals with a common vision is, thus, a complex task.
However, the following principles help managers perform the complex function of direction:
1. Appropriate selection of employees:
Direction is related to the function of staffing. While selecting employees, managers should ensure that people can adjust to the organisation structure and willingly carry out the directions of the superiors. Chances of demotions and separations should be reduced to as low as possible. It is easy to direct people who are committed to their task and see organisational goals as a means to achieve the individual goals.
Since direction influences the behaviour of others, managers follow the principle of participation (while preparing the directives). If those who carry out the directions participate in making policies regarded directions (motivational plans, leadership styles, communication pattern), direction function will be able to accomplish its purpose effectively.
To make direction effective, managers ensure two-way flow of communication between them and the employees. Employees should be allowed to express their feelings to superiors. An effective system of communication ensures passing of orders and instructions by superiors which are smoothly carried by subordinates and expressing problems and grievances by subordinates to superiors which are solved by the superiors. Direction function aims at maximising the interest of not only self but also others in the organisation.
4. Counselling and guidance:
When employees face problems in carrying out their tasks, managers provide them the necessary counselling and guidance. This makes direction effective as employees can approach the superiors for counselling whenever required. It is important that subordinates carry out the instructions the way they are intended by the superiors. There should be complete understanding of communication between the superiors and subordinates. Doubts and queries of subordinates should be cleared by superiors through proper guidance and counselling.
5. Unity of command:
The basic principle that makes direction effective is one boss for one subordinate i.e., all directions, orders and instructions should come from one boss. If subordinate receives instructions from more than one superior, he may not be able to carry out the instructions of any of them. This will create confusion and conflicts to the dissatisfaction of both, the superiors and subordinates.
However, in the contemporary business environment characterised by extreme specialisation, it may not always be possible to follow the principle of unity of command. Functional organisation, project organisation, matrix organisation have the system of dual command and even multiple command.
The direction function should ensure that employees are able to maintain balance amongst the instructions issued by bosses of different functional areas. Direction function cannot be performed in an environment of restrictions. There are different techniques of direction (authoritative, participative, free reign) which are followed depending upon the need of the situation.
6. Unity of direction:
One plan or related set of activities should have one head. All activities related to marketing must be headed by the marketing manager and those related to personnel should be headed by the personnel manager. This avoids duplication of actions and instructions and results in optimum use of scarce resources.
7. Synthesis of conflicting objectives:
Every group of people, whether owners, managers, or workers has personal interest as supreme while carrying out the organisational activities. This can lead to conflicting interests which may hamper the organisational growth. Effective directions, motivation, guidance and counselling make people understand that their goals are subordinate to organisational goals.
This enables different groups of people move towards the same direction. The conflicting objectives are, thus, synthesized into a single plan, one objective, one direction and one goal, that is, to maximise the organisational goals. If subordinates view organisational interest as supreme, organisation also takes care to look after the interest of subordinates.
8. Direct supervision:
Direct supervision of employees helps them know deviations in their performance and ways to remove them. This also maintains direct contact between superiors and subordinates and increases interest in their work and confidence and loyalty in their supervisors.
Direction aims at getting maximum contribution from employees by exploiting their talent to the best. If employees have the potential to contribute more than their present performance, direction helps in enhancing the contribution towards organisational objectives.
10. Use of informal organisation:
Though directions are issued in a formal organisation structure, managers should make use of informal organisation also to speed up the process of direction. Information travels faster amongst informal groups and directions can be effectively carried out because people can freely interact with each other.
Managers should receive constant feedback on their directions to know whether or not employees are working according to their directions. If employees have problems, they should solve their problems and if need arises, even revise the directions.