Control in the Context of an Organisation
Clearly define the term control in the context of an organization. Give examples and lucid explanation of the various types of control that can be used by a Manager. Why is the control function so very important to the effectiveness and efficiency of an organization? According to Robbins & Coulter, “control refers to the process of monitoring, comparing and correcting work performances. The control process is a three step process of measuring actual performance, comparing actual performance against a standard and taking managerial action to correct deviations or to address inadequate standards. The process assumes that performance standards already exist. For the most part they do as the organization would have set goals and objectives against which performance can be measured and there are a number of tools/concepts that can assist Managers in monitoring and measuring organizational performance.
Some of these concepts include feed forward, concurrent and feedback control. Feed forward control is the most desirable type of control. This concept anticipates problems and provides the Manager with the opportunity to prevent problems before they take place. For example, in the budgeting process specific targets are set which allow the manager to plan how resources will be allocated across departments with a view to ensuring that the organization meets its objectives.
Another example would be in the implementation of a preventative maintenance programme where tasks (such as generator load tests) are scheduled to check systems and equipment on a frequent basis to alleviate or minimize loss time or breakdowns before they occur. The generator load test would ensure that in the event of a power outage, the generator has the capacity and ability to allow the company to continue operation with minimal interruption. Another type of control is referred to as concurrent control.
This takes place when the work activity is in process and seeks to correct problems as they occur. A manager who practices management by walking around is using this concept. This allows the manager to interact directly with employees and to observe them at work. A manager who has responsibility for cleaning would walk around to check the work done by frontline staff and assign persons to areas not completed. Another example would be on an assembly line where the manager can see the items before they are completed and correct any defects and make any djustments before the products are released for distribution. Feedback control is the most popular type of control and as the name implies it relies on feedback. With this concept control takes place after the activity is done. An example of this would be the Toyota recall situation where based on feedback from customers (in the form of complaints), the company sought to correct the problem after the product had reached the consumer. With this type of control, there can be significant damage or wastage which can come at a high cost.
However, feedback control does have some advantages as it gives the manager valuable information or insight into how effective the planning was. The manager can compare actual performance to planned performance. If the variance is minor then it can be said that performance was on target. However if the variance is major then the manager can use that information to implement or update his plans as required. The control function is therefore very important to the effectiveness and efficiency of an organization.
As the final step in the management process, control provides the link back to planning. Effectiveness refers to the strategies used to achieve the goals and efficiency refers to the use of minimum resources to get the job done. A manager therefore uses control to determine whether or not the goals set are being met and if they are not being met, to make adjustments or alter the plans are necessary. A manager who does not control has no way of knowing if goals are being met. He/she would just be operating “in the dark”.
Some other benefits of control include the fact that waste in minimized; risk is minimized as control helps to protect the organization and its assets; expenses and overhead costs can be significantly reduced and, since employees are being updated on their performance and the organisation’s performance, they may be more inclined to increase their productivity and work performance. It can be said that once appropriate controls are adopted the manager can look for specific performance gaps and areas for improvement which could lead to overall effectiveness and efficiency.