Functions of Management
When people think of the word management, the first thought that pops into their heads is running a business and dealing with all the little quirks and hassles in order to make it run successfully. While true, this conception is very limited, as management extends to all areas of living, such as self-management, time management, stress management, and budgeting. The four functions of management are planning, organizing, leading, and controlling, and they are universal to all categories. They can be applied separately as well as collectively in many different situations. In the business I run, these four functions prove to be imperative for success, and they are applied to my organization, to my supervisor, and to my own position.
I run a law office. My staff includes legal assistants and a receptionist. We handle a bulk of personal injury cases as well as other civil cases. Each legal assistant is assigned specific cases. This way the cases are handled personally and with continuity. They are scheduled on shifts that have proven to be functional. I monitor the cases individually and maintain a log for expenses incurred. Our earnings are primarily based on retainer fees. Therefore, it is imperative that all cases be reviewed extensively prior to client signup. Potential earnings as well as expense must be evaluated right from the start. We only hire very capable legal assistants who share the same objective and who will make every effort to achieve the same goals. Steps are taken to mitigate losses and maximize potential earnings. The legal assistants are trained for this function but I make the final call.
In essence, I do not have a supervisor since I practically own and run this law office. There is no solid figurehead for me to report to. However, I am not licensed to practice law. Therefore, I am partners with a lawyer who represents our clients, and I finance the business. Both the lawyer and myself review all the cases we have on file. When it comes to claim settlement, I confer with him for settlement proposal. He has the authority to reject a claim or a claim offer. It is necessary for both of us to have a degree of parallelism when it comes to business functions. We are both involved in handling cases, as well as evaluating what needs to be done for success.
A significant amount of planning took place prior to me being in this business several years ago. It was capital intensive, and I had to understand then that months would come where earnings would be inversely proportional to expenses incurred. Operating capital should be supplied up until earnings would be forecasted or when cash flow would be established. I believe in efficiency, that is minimum input and maximum output. I personally hire qualified legal assistants who, though they personally handle the cases, report to me for case update and/or judgment calls. Their performance is assessed periodically to ensure business productivity. I also personally handle all financial matters relative to the claims -- accounts payable and accounts receivable, notwithstanding standard overhead expense. If business is slow, I reassess my staffing and office needs to consider possible downsizing. Likewise, if business is good and promising, then additional staff will be considered to maintain and improve business profitability.
Management, in a sense, could be considered a broad task requiring many different branches of the four principle functions, yet at the same time it could be considered a simple process requiring only common sense. In actuality, the four functions of management are common sense. What would my business be without planning and predicting potential earnings? Would it be sluggish if I did not assign certain tasks to my legal assistants and just distributed various cases? Imagine what productivity would be like if I did not assess our performance and set standards to work up to. Running a business does not need to be complicated, as is management. Likewise, it should not be taken lightly. It demands a certain amount of responsibility, dedication, and even passion. The management process is the glue that holds the business together, and I consider it wise to understand it and embrace it.