The Foundation of Management

The tools to success By Brandon Battles When I began writing this column earlier this year, it was my intention to write several articles that laid the foundation for the profession of management. I would establish the foundation by...


The tools to success

By Brandon Battles

When I began writing this column earlier this year, it was my intention to write several articles that laid the foundation for the profession of management. I would establish the foundation by first discussing the general principles that any manager in any industry would need to possess in order to proceed down a path of successful management. Once that was established, I would then narrow the scope of my articles to the manager in maintenance. I wanted to tie the variety of situations that managers in maintenance are likely to encounter within their organizations to the basic management skills. In other words, try to give the manager in maintenance a few management tools to help them move toward the objective of becoming a successful manager.

In my first article I certainly started down the path of accomplishing my intentions. This article pointed out the different set of skills that a person needs in order to be a successful maintenance technician vs. a successful manager in maintenance. However my next series of articles deviated slightly from the original intent. I started to get more into the specifics. For example, one article discussed the importance of maintenance and the budgeting process while another explored the efficiency of a maintenance organization in terms of labor hours.

As I reviewed these articles I realized I had failed to discuss a basic area of management. I had left out an important piece of the management foundation. Although I had alluded to this important piece, I failed to discuss it in detail. So rather than discussing a specific maintenance situation, I will digress slightly to meet my original intentions.

The four principles of management

Regardless of the type of industry or the type of organization, every manager shares a common ground. While performing management tasks, each manager depends upon the same four basic principles: planning, organizing, directing, and controlling.

Many books and articles exist about management and its responsibilities. If you haven’t done so recently, visit your local bookstore or pick up any business periodical and you will see an enormous amount of material discussing management: what works and what doesn’t, how to handle one employee vs. another, and which organizational structures are more successful than others. The list of subjects is almost endless. However, if you could boil the ingredients of these books and articles down to the basics, you would be left with four – planning, organizing, directing, and controlling.

Planning – Whether you’re a manager in your organization or not, or whether it’s related to work or not, everyone has planned. Certainly, some plan more formally than others but the bottom line is, all of us plan. For example, planning can be as simple as determining your next day’s schedule. When will you wake up? When and how will you get to work? What needs to be accomplished at work? What errands do you need to run after work? What will you eat for dinner? You get the point.

If planning is such a basic activity, why do we plan? Planning helps us accomplish goals or objectives more efficiently and effectively.

In your organization, three types of planning should exist – strategic, operational, and financial. If you are a manager in the maintenance organization, you will primarily be performing operational planning. The organization will determine its objectives and goals in a strategic plan, and it will be up to you to determine how your maintenance organization will accomplish them. You may also become involved with the financial planning in the form of developing a budget. An important point to understand is that the three types of planning are not mutually exclusive. A strategic plan at one level of the organization may create strategic, operational, and financial planning at another.

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