1 Why and How Managers Control LEARNING OBJECTIVE 9.1 Identify the types of controls used by managers and the reasons for them. Wiley PLUS See Author Video Learn More About • Importance of controlling • Types of controls • Internal and external control Control is important for organization success, and we practice a lot of control quite naturally. Think of the things you do for fun-playing golf or tennis or Frisbee, reading, dancing, driving a car, or riding a bike. Through activities like these you’ve already become an expert in the control process. How? Most probably by having an objective in mind, always checking to see how well you are doing, and making continuous adjustments to get it right. Importance of Controlling The management function of planning involves setting goals and making plans. It is closely linked with controlling, the process of measuring performance and making sure that plans turn out as intended. Information is the foundation of control and facts are friendly. An experienced CEO once said: “Facts that reinforce what you are doing are nice, because they help in terms of psychic reward. Facts that raise alarms are equally friendly, because they give you clues about how to respond, how to change, where to spend the resources.”3 Controlling is the process of measuring performance and taking action to ensure desired results. Figure 9.1 shows how controlling fits in with the other management functions. Planning sets the direction and the parameters for resource allocation. Organizing brings people and material resources together in working combinations. Leading inspires people to best utilize these resources. Controlling makes sure that the right things happen, in the right way, and at the right time. It’s a way to ensure that performance is consistent with plans and that the accomplishments of a team or organization are coordinated. Planning—to set the direction • Decide where you want to go • Decide how to best go about it Organizing—to create structures Leading- to inspire effort Controlling- to ensure results • Measure performance • Take corrective action FIGURE 9.1 The role of controlling in the management process. One of the great benefits of effective control is learning. Consider, for example, the program of after-action review pioneered by the U.S. Army and now used in numerous organizations. It is a process for a structured review of lessons learned and results in a completed project, task force assignment, or special operation. Participants answer questions like: “What was the intent?” “What actually happened?” “What did we learn?”4 The after-action review helps make continuous improvement a shared norm. It encourages participants to take responsibility for their actions, what they achieved, and how they can be more effective in the future. The end-of-chapter team exercise is modeled on this approach. An after-action review is a systematic assessment of lessons learned and results accomplished in a completed project. Types of Controls The open-systems perspective shown in Figure 9.2 is one of the best ways to understand control. It shows how feedforward, concurrent, and feedback controls are linked with different phases of the input-throughput-output cycle. The use of these control types increases the likelihood of high performance. Feedforward Controls Feedforward controls, also called preliminary controls, take place before a work activity begins. They ensure that objectives are clear, that directions are established, and that the right resources are available to accomplish the objectives. The goal is to solve problems before they occur by asking an important but often neglected question: “What needs to be done before we begin?” Feedforward control ensures that directions and resources are right before the work begins. Feedforward controls are preventive. Managers using them take a forward-thinking and proactive approach. At McDonald’s, for example, preliminary control of food ingredients plays an important role in the firm’s quality program. The company requires that suppliers of its hamburger buns produce them to exact specifications, covering everything from texture to uniformity of color. Even in overseas markets, the firm works hard to develop local suppliers that can offer dependable quality.6 Concurrent Controls Concurrent controls focus on what happens during the work process. Sometimes called steering controls, they make sure that plans are being followed and the right things are being done in the workflow. You can also think of this as control through direct supervision. In today’s increasingly complex virtual world, that supervision can be computer driven and virtual as well as face-to-face. Concurrent control focuses on what happens during the work process. The goal of concurrent controls is to solve problems as they happen. The key question is, “What can we do to improve things right now?” Picture this scene at the Hyundai Motors headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, in what the firm calls its Global Command and Control Center.? Work Inputs Work Throughputs Work Outputs Feedforward Controls Concurrent Controls Feedback Controls Ensure the right directions are set and the right resource inputs are available Ensure the right things are being done as part of workflow operations Ensure that final results are up to desired standards Solve problems before they occur Solve problems while they are occurring Solve problems after they occur FIGURE 9.2 Feedforward, concurrent, and feedback controls. With dozens of computer screens relaying video and data, it (the Global Command and Control Center] monitors Hyundai operations around the world. Parts shipments are traced from the time they leave the supplier until they reach a plant. Cameras cover assembly lines from Beijing to Montgomery and keep a close watch on Hyundai’s giant Ulsan, Korea, plant, the world’s largest integrated auto factory. In the Hyundai example, computers monitor operations and gather business intelligence in real time. Using sophisticated information systems, managers are able to spot and immediately correct problems in the manufacturing cycle. The same kind of process intervention also happens at McDonald’s, but there, the concurrent control is face to face. Ever-present shift leaders constantly observe the unit as a whole, while helping with the work necessary to keep the unit running. They are trained to intervene as needed to correct things on the spot. Feedback Controls Feedback controls, also called post-action controls, take place after work is done. They focus on the quality of end results rather than on inputs and activities. Feedback controls are largely reactive; the goals are to solve problems after they occur and prevent future problems. They ask the question: “Now that we are finished, how well did we do?” Feedback control takes place after an action is completed. We are all familiar with feedback controls and probably recognize their weak points from a customer service perspective. Restaurants often ask how you liked a meal after it is eaten; course evaluations tell instructors how well they performed after the course is over; a budget summary identifies cost overruns after a project is completed. Feedback about mistakes may not enable their immediate correction, but can help to improve performance in the future. Internal and External Control Managers have two broad options with respect to control systems. First, they can trust and expect people to control their own behavior. This puts priority on internal or self-control. Second, they can exercise external control by structuring situations to increase the likelihood that things will happen as planned. The alternatives here include bureaucratic or administrative control, clan or normative control, and market or regulatory control. The most effective control typically involves a mix of these options. Self-Control We all exercise internal control in our daily lives. We manage our money, our relationships, our eating and drinking, our health behaviors, our study habits, and more. Managers can take advantage of this capacity for self-control by unlocking, allowing, and supporting it. This means helping people to be good at self-management, giving them freedom, and encouraging them to exercise self-discipline in performing their jobs. Any workplace that emphasizes participation, empowerment, and involvement will rely heavily on self-control. Self-control is internal control that occurs through self-management and self-discipline in fulfilling work and personal responsibilities. Managers can gain a lot by assuming that people are ready and willing to exercise self-control in work. But, an internal control strategy requires trust. When people are willing to work on their own and exercise self-control, managers have to have the confidence to give them the freedom to do so. Self-control is most likely when the process used to set objectives and standards is participative. The potential for self-control also increases when capable people have a clear sense of the organization’s mission and the resources to do their jobs. The potential for self-control is also greater in inclusive organizational cultures in which everyone treats everyone else with respect and consideration. It’s important to think about self-control as a capacity, even a life skill. How good are you at taking control of your time and maintaining a healthy work-life balance? Do you ever wonder who’s in control, you or your phone? It used to be that we sometimes took work home, did a bit, put it away, and took it back to work the next day. Now work is always there, on the computer and in our e-mails and messaging apps. All this is habit forming, and some of us handle this intrusion into our non-work lives better than others.10 Insight: Learn about Yourself “Resilient people are like trees bending in the wind…. They bounce back.” Resiliency Offers Strength from Within Managerial control is all about how to increase the probability that things go right for organizations even as they deal with an increasing number of operational complexities. It’s the same for us every day, in our work and personal lives. We need to spot and understand where things are going according to plan or going off course. We need to have the courage and confidence to change approaches that aren’t working well. Our success, simply put, depends a lot on resiliency-the ability to call on inner strength and keep moving forward even when things are tough. Think of resiliency in personal terms-caring for an aging parent with a terrible disease or single parenthood with small children. Think of it in career terms—juggling personal and work responsibilities, continuously attending to e-mails, voice mails, instant messages, and rushing to many scheduled and unscheduled meetings. We need to be managed, we need to exercise control, and we need staying power to perform over the long term. Resiliency helps us hold on and keep things moving forward even in the face of personal and professional adversity. Resilient people face up to challenges; they don’t hide or back away from them. They develop strategies, make plans, and find opportunity even in challenging situations. Dr. Steven M. Southwick, professor of psychiatry at Yale University, says “Resilient people are like trees bending in the wind…. They bounce back.” Does this description fit you … or not? Why? Resiliency Quick Test Score yourself from 1 = don’t at all agree, to 5 = totally agree, on the following items: • I am an upbeat person for the most part. • Uncertainty and ambiguity don’t much bother me. • I tend to adapt quickly as things
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