The Four Functions of Management: What Managers Need to Know (2024)

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While most positions and departments within a business are tasked with specific duties based on particular knowledge, expertise, or company needs, managers can have a broader and more complex set of responsibilities. More than just specialized knowledge, management requires an ability to navigate numerous procedural, structural, and interpersonal challenges in the process of guiding one's team to the completion of various goals.

Originally identified by Henri Fayol as five elements, there are now four commonly accepted functions of management that encompass these necessary skills: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling.1 Consider what each of these functions entails, as well as how each may look in action.


One main role of a manager is creating a plan to meet company goals and objectives. This involves allocating employee resources and delegating responsibilities, as well as setting realistic timelines and standards for completion. Planning requires those in management roles to continuously check on team progress in order to make small adjustments when necessary, while still maintaining a clear picture of a company's larger aims and goals.

Much of one's planning function consists of working independently to determine what responsibilities must be given to which employees, setting priority levels for certain tasks, and creating timelines. However, communication also plays an important role. For example, managers deal with planning when they meet with company leadership to discuss short and long-term goals, and when they communicate the specifics of a new project to their team or check-in periodically to ensure individual objectives are being met on time.


Along with planning, a manager's organizational skills can help to ensure a company or departmental unit runs smoothly. From establishing internal processes and structures to knowing which employees or teams are best suited for specific tasks, keeping everyone and everything organized throughout daily operations are important functions of management.

Organization isn't just about delegating tasks efficiently and making sure employees have what they need to accomplish their tasks, however. Managers also need to be able to reorganize in response to new challenges. This could come into practice in the form of slightly adjusting the timeline for a project or re-allocating tasks from one team to another. Or, it could mean significantly altering a team's internal structure and roles in response to company growth.

The Four Functions of Management: What Managers Need to Know (2)

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Managers should be comfortable and confident commanding their team members’ daily tasks as well as during periods of significant change or challenge. This involves projecting a strong sense of direction and leadership when setting goals and communicating new processes, products and services, or internal policy.

Leadership can manifest itself in a number of ways, including recognizing when employees need an extra boost of reinforcement and praise to handling conflicts between team members fairly and decisively. Often, managers may function as leaders even during small personal interactions by modeling supportive, encouraging, and motivational qualities.


To ensure all of the above functions are working toward the success of a company, managers should consistently monitor employee performance, quality of work, and the efficiency and reliability of completed projects. Control (and quality control) in management is about making sure the ultimate goals of the business are being adequately met, as well as making any necessary changes when they aren't.

How to Develop Key Management Skills

While some of the above functions of management can extend logically from experience and skills developed in entry-level positions, formal training and education may provide advantages. For instance, pursuing a business management degree can offer the opportunity to study management philosophies and best practices in order to help one prepare to pursue management positions following graduation.

Work to Develop Your Management Skills With an MBA

For those currently working in entry-level positions, seeking out a mentor at work and keeping an eye out for professional development opportunities can allow you to build the skills needed for management roles. Many people may also choose to return to school to pursue an MBA in order to help advance their business knowledge. Given that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will about 807,300 new management jobs created between 2016 and 2026,2 it may be sensible to hone your management skills.

Are you ready to take the next step? Learn more about online business degrees at AIU today.

1.“What Are the Four Basic Functions That Make Up The Management Process.” Houston Chronicle. Retrieved from: (Visited 04/29/18).
2.“Management Occupations.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from: (Visited 08/31/18). This data represents national figures and is not based on school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.

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The Four Functions of Management: What Managers Need to Know (2024)


The Four Functions of Management: What Managers Need to Know? ›

The four functions of management are planning, organizing, leading and controlling. Successful managers must do all four while managing their work and team.

Why is it important for managers to truly understand the 4 functions of management? ›

Effective management is a cornerstone of organizational success. By understanding and implementing the four functions of management – the planning function, the organizing function, the leading function, and the controlling function – a manager can steer an organization toward achievement.

What are the skills used by managers when performing the four functions of management? ›

Over the years, Fayol's functions were combined and reduced to the following four main functions of management: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling.

Which of the four managerial functions are critically important for a manager to perform choose every correct answer? ›

Managers must first plan, then organize according to that plan, lead others to work towards the plan, and finally evaluate the effectiveness of the plan. These four functions must be performed properly and, when done well, become the reason for organizational success.

What is not one of the four important manager roles? ›

Management's four primary functions are planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. "Orientation" is not among these essential functions.

What are the four management functions that all managers must perform? ›

The four functions of management are planning, organizing, leading and controlling. Successful managers must do all four while managing their work and team. These are foundational of any professional managerial position.

Why is it important to know the functions of management? ›

Functions of management help you stay informed about what you need to do and how so that you can guide your staff accordingly. Management experts like Fayol and Gulick explain the functions of management to equip yourself with the right skills to become an accomplished manager.

What are the four points of importance of management function? ›

The five points of importance of management are achieving organization goals, achieving individual goals, creating a dynamic environment, developing society, and improving efficiency. Management refers to the process of performing tasks efficiently and effectively while achieving personal and organizational goals.

What are the most important functions of a manager? ›

At the most fundamental level, management is a discipline that consists of a set of five general functions: planning, organizing, staffing, leading and controlling. These five functions are part of a body of practices and theories on how to be a successful manager.

Which one of the following is the most important function of a manager? ›

Planning and decision making.

What are the four keys of great manager? ›

The Four Keys to great management are concepts that Gallup discovered from their study of best managers. The approach that the best managers take deviates from conventional wisdom in four broad areas: selection, setting expectations, motivation and development.

What are the big four manager responsibilities? ›

Manager Level

Managers are responsible for managing large teams and overseeing multiple engagements. They also actively participate in business development activities and play a key role in driving revenue for the firm. The average salary for a Manager at the Big 4 ranges from $100,000 to $130,000 per year.

What is the first step in the controlling process? ›

The first step in the controlling process is fixation of standards because standards are the criteria against which actual performance would be measured. Standards serve as benchmarks towards which an organisation strives to work. It can be set in both quantitative and qualitative terms.

Why a study of management functions is necessary for their managers? ›

Understanding the key functions of management can guide you as you create the foundation of a project, achieve your goal and aim to become a better team leader .

Why are the four principles of management important? ›

The four functions of management can be a powerful framework that helps effective leaders categorize and prioritize their tasks and responsibilities, identifying where their particular leadership skills best fit within an organization.

Why is it important for every manager to understand the many different management theories? ›

It is very important to every manager to be equipped with different management theories​ because : Using the management theory in a workplace allows the leadership focus on main goal. When the management style or may be any theory implemented, it is automatically streamlines top priority for organization.

Are the four functions of management important in very small businesses? ›

The four functions of management — planning, organizing, leading, and controlling — serve as the pillars that allow organizations to meet their goals. These functions are interdependent and equally important for ensuring the smooth operation of any business.


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