What are the Five Functions of Management? The Five Functions of Management In A Nutshell

  • The Five Functions of Management is a general theory of business administration highlighting five key areas: planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling.
  • The Five Functions of Management provide a framework for effective management. The theory argues that the role of a manager is far more complex than the supervision of subordinates.
  • The Five Functions of Management is broad, rigid, and may lack the nuance required for dynamic businesses. It also lacks any foundation in empirical research and does not focus on meeting the needs of the customer.
PlanningInvolves setting organizational goals and objectives, developing strategies, and outlining the tasks and resources required.– Defining goals and objectives.- Identifying tasks and actions needed.- Developing plans, strategies, and budgets.Effective resource allocation and direction.Improved focus, better resource allocation, roadmap.Can be time-consuming, may require adjustments.Strategic planning, project planning, financial planning.
OrganizingStructuring the organization’s resources, such as people, materials, and processes, to achieve the planned goals.– Defining roles and responsibilities.- Establishing reporting relationships.- Allocating resources.Clear accountability, efficient framework.Improved efficiency, clear accountability, streamlined operations.Rigid structures may hinder flexibility.Organizational design, department structuring, team formation.
LeadingGuiding and motivating employees to work toward achieving the organization’s goals. Includes communication, motivation, and decision-making.– Communicating expectations.- Inspiring and motivating teams.- Making decisions, resolving conflicts.Positive work environment, employee engagement.Increased productivity, higher morale, better teamwork.Poor leadership can lead to dissatisfaction.Team leadership, managerial decision-making, conflict resolution.
ControllingMonitoring and measuring performance against predetermined standards and taking corrective actions when necessary to ensure goals are achieved.– Setting performance standards.- Monitoring progress.- Comparing actual performance to standards.- Taking corrective actions as needed.Issue detection, necessary adjustments.Improved performance, early issue detection, efficiency.Excessive control can stifle creativity.Performance measurement, quality control, budget control.
CoordinatingEnsuring that all parts of the organization work together smoothly to achieve common goals. About aligning efforts and resources.– Aligning departmental goals with organizational goals.- Facilitating communication and collaboration.Prevention of conflicts, promotion of synergy.Improved teamwork, better resource utilization, faster decision-making.Poor coordination can lead to inefficiencies.Cross-functional project management, interdepartmental collaboration.

Understanding the difference between leadership and management

The Five Functions of Management was first described by Henri Fayol in his 1916 book Administration Industrielle et Generale. 

The Five Functions of Management is a general theory of business administration. It argues that management is comprised of five general functions: planning, organizing, staffing, leading, and controlling.

Often, leadership and management might coincide.

Yet, more often than not, those do not.

Indeed, leadership is much more about the long-term direction of the business, which tends to motivate employees through inspiration, and a clear mission, usually instilled by the company’s leadership team.

Management, on the other hand, is more about the operational side and the day-to-day planning needed to achieve these goals.

Management and leadership are highly tied, as one without the other don’t go far.

In fact, effective management might lead to short-term success, yet it might derail the company in the longer run.

While strong leadership might work as an incredible motivator yet, it might also result in organizational chaos.

Thus, balancing out management and leadership is critical to enable a company to move toward its long-term vision while being effective in the short term.

That is why, rather than looking at it as management vs. leadership, a company should look at how management and leadership come together to reach the company’s goal.

For that respective, management and leadership bring different perspectives to the table based on five main aspects:

How those two different perspectives shape the organization is critical to building a valuable company that stands the test of time.

Understanding the Five Functions of Management

The Five Functions of Management was first described by Henri Fayol in his 1916 book Administration Industrielle et Generale. 

Fayol, a French mining engineer, theorized that five functions were universal to management across various organizations.

Each function describes a set of principles advising managers on how they can successfully lead their subordinates. What’s more, the theory helps managers see their role as more than just supervisory in nature.

Today, the five functions are still in use and are often collectively referred to as Fayolism. Let’s take a look at each of these functions in the next section.

The Five Functions of Management

The Five Functions of Management consist of:


According to Fayol, planning is the hardest of the five functions.

Managers must plan for the future and develop appropriate strategies to meet organizational goals.

Furthermore, risks must be identified with plans in place to mitigate them. Planning must also be coordinated across different levels and consider the available human and non-human resources.

Fayol also stressed the importance of forecasting at daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, five-yearly, and ten-yearly intervals.


Or the process of assembling physical, financial, and human resources.

This involves the identification of necessary activities, assignment of roles and responsibilities, and the delegation of authority. 

Commanding (Directing)

Successful managers communicate clearly and honestly and act in a way that reflects company values.

Their decisions are based on regular audits and they are capable of motivating and encouraging employees to use initiative.


The fourth function aims to create harmony between the various activities within an organization.

For example, spending should be proportional to available resources, production requirements, market demand, or stock levels.

Fayol argued that regular meetings were also a good way to solidify relationships between different departments or activities.

Harmony is also created by hiring employees who are suitably qualified to carry out their roles.


Is progress being made toward the goals and objectives stated in the planning phase?

If not, management needs to take corrective action.

Limitations of the Five Functions of Management

Despite its obvious advantages, Fayol’s theory has some drawbacks:

Based on anecdotal evidence

The Five Functions of Management is based on Fayol’s own experiences during his time as director of a mining company.

The theory does not incorporate empirical research and its application may be limited as a result.


With no credence given to the customer, each organization is structured to meet its own needs and not the needs of the much more important end-user.

A lack of nuance

Fayol’s theory is rather broad and rigid. Its scope does not extend to the informal, micro-interactions or relationships between managers and subordinates.

In more dynamic and modern organizations, the theory may not be able to facilitate effective management.

Five functions of management examples

Now let’s conclude by taking a more expansive look at some examples for each of the five functions of management.

This section is loosely based on the case of a department manager in an order fulfillment center with 10 team leaders and 120 staff.


As we noted earlier, the planning function is one of the most important but also the hardest to implement well.

To be effective, Fayol believed four components would enable the organization to unite toward a common purpose: unity, continuity, flexibility, and precision

At the departmental or team level, organizations must plan to create an ideal environment for employees.

Since people are the most important asset, it is vital to plan activities conducive to teamwork, cooperation, and positive company culture.

These activities may include:

  • The initial meet and greet where staff are acquainted with one another and work to understand their current needs.
  • Periodic discussions with supervisors to address problematic issues.
  • The establishment of positive, achievable objectives with reward systems in place.


While similar companies like Amazon are characterized by fast cooperation between various departments to better meet client needs, the manager understands that changes can be made in their department without affecting the rest of the organization.

This so-called “departmentalization” advocates that employees and activities in the fulfillment center be further broken down into small, specialized groups.

For example, the manager may establish a more experienced team to process fragile or bulky items, while another team can be set up to handle orders with next-day delivery.

The latter team may also be allocated extra resources to ensure orders are dispatched in the appropriate timeframes.

Commanding (Directing)

The manager decides to adopt a transformational leadership style when dealing with subordinates.

This style is exemplified by leaders who inspire, motivate, and encourage employees to be the drivers of innovation and positive change. 

To carry out the second component of commanding, which Fayol described as putting the organization into motion, the manager must also:

  • Understand the organization’s obligations to employees.
  • Work with other managers to ensure unity of direction, and
  • Avoid involving themselves in trivial matters.


In essence, coordination means all employees understand their roles and responsibilities while also working with others harmoniously to achieve goals.

This is facilitated by proper resource allocation and the recruitment of individuals who are suitably qualified. 

To ensure fulfillment center operations are not disrupted, the manager ensures that when experienced staff take leave or are promoted, there is suitable and available expertise to replace them.


In the fifth and final function, the manager establishes benchmark KPIs that all employees must meet in their roles.

Performance is then measured periodically to identify and address problems that may relate to the employees themselves or with processes. 

New instruction or additional training can be instituted in a collaborative way that is in keeping with the manager’s transformational leadership style.

Functions of management example: Apple

Now, let’s take a look at a functions of management example for tech giant Apple.


According to Apple’s product feedback page, the company “strives to bring the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals, and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software, and internet offerings.” 

To achieve this mission, Apple employs a product development and differentiation strategy underpinned by:

  • Simple, elegant, and functional design.
  • Emphasis on the customer experience.
  • Vertical integration and strengthening of the Apple ecosystem, and
  • Reduced dependence on iPhone sales.


The way Apple organizes its resources has not changed since Steve Jobs re-joined the company in 1997. That year, he placed the company under one P&L and combined different business unit departments into one functional organization. Critically, this was done in such a way that expertise was aligned with decision-making power.

That Apple retains this structure is even more remarkable since the company is now 40 times larger and far more complex. SVPs remain the leaders of functions (not products) and CEO Tim Cook occupies the only area on the org chart where operations, marketing, engineering, design, and retail of Apple’s core products meet.

Commanding (Directing)

In terms of staff management, Apple assigns employees tasks and clarifies specific completion deadlines. Late work for any reason is unacceptable, with HR managers responsible for ensuring employees complete tasks on time.

Employees must also consistently embody the “think outside the box” mantra. In keeping with the company’s mission and values, they must be able to build and improve products with creative ideas. 

The industry in which Apple operates also dictates how it directs staff. Since the company is present in markets where tech-driven disruption is frequent, it requires its leaders to possess three critical traits:

  1. Intuition, judgment, and deep subject matter expertise. This enables them to meaningfully engage in every aspect of their respective functions.
  2. Immersion in the details of those functions, and
  3. Motivation to engage in collaborative debate over other functions during the collective decision-making process. 

Lastly, it should be said that Apple does not have a hierarchy where managers oversee managers. It is instead one where experts lead experts. Why? Because the company believes it is easier to train an expert to be a manager than the reverse.


Within the company, there are hundreds of specialist teams, and dozens may be required for just one component of a new product. The dual-lens camera on the iPhone, for example, required collaboration between 40 specialist teams in areas such as camera software, reliability, motion sensor hardware, and silicon design.

So how are these teams coordinated? Since no one function is responsible for a product or service, cross-functional collaboration and debate are essential. When debates reach a stalemate – as all debates are liable to do – senior VPs and sometimes even Cook himself step in to break the deadlock. 

The speed and attention to detail of the company’s coordination strategy can prove a challenge for even the most effective leaders. But Apple makes it work because its numerous senior staff understand the Apple way and are skilled collaborators. 

Additional Case Studies


  • Planning: Amazon meticulously plans its supply chain operations to ensure timely deliveries. It also plans its expansion into new markets and services, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS).
  • Organizing: Amazon’s extensive organizational structure involves various teams and units, each responsible for specific functions, from e-commerce to cloud computing.
  • Commanding (Directing): Amazon’s leadership principles guide its managers in directing teams effectively. The company emphasizes customer obsession, ownership, and long-term thinking.
  • Coordinating: Coordination is critical in Amazon’s vast and complex operations. The company uses advanced technology and automation to optimize processes and deliveries.
  • Controlling: Amazon tracks performance metrics rigorously, ensuring that orders are fulfilled accurately and efficiently. Customer feedback is also a crucial control mechanism.


  • Planning: Microsoft plans its product releases and updates well in advance. For example, planning for a new version of Windows involves extensive research and development.
  • Organizing: Microsoft’s organizational structure is designed to facilitate collaboration among different divisions, such as Windows, Office, and Azure.
  • Commanding (Directing): The company’s leadership encourages innovation and a growth mindset. Managers are expected to empower their teams and lead by example.
  • Coordinating: Coordination is essential in software development. Microsoft uses agile methodologies and tools like Azure DevOps for effective team coordination.
  • Controlling: Microsoft employs quality control measures to ensure software reliability and security. Regular updates and patches help address issues and improve products.


  • Planning: Coca-Cola plans its marketing campaigns, product launches, and distribution strategies meticulously, often targeting specific markets and demographics.
  • Organizing: The company’s organizational structure includes regional divisions responsible for local operations, allowing for effective market-specific actions.
  • Commanding (Directing): Coca-Cola’s leadership fosters a culture of creativity and brand innovation while maintaining brand consistency and quality standards.
  • Coordinating: Coordination is crucial in supply chain management. Coca-Cola uses advanced logistics to coordinate the production and distribution of its beverages.
  • Controlling: Quality control and safety standards are paramount in the beverage industry. Coca-Cola enforces strict quality checks and compliance with regulations.


  • Planning: Walmart plans its inventory, pricing, and expansion strategies extensively. It also engages in disaster preparedness planning to respond to emergencies.
  • Organizing: Walmart’s organizational structure involves various departments and stores worldwide, emphasizing efficient supply chain management and customer service.
  • Commanding (Directing): Walmart’s leadership principles focus on customer satisfaction, employee empowerment, and sustainability initiatives.
  • Coordinating: Coordinating a vast retail network requires real-time data analysis. Walmart uses technology to coordinate inventory and logistics for timely deliveries.
  • Controlling: Walmart constantly monitors sales, inventory turnover, and customer feedback to make data-driven decisions and improve its operations.


  • Planning: Google plans its product launches, research initiatives, and expansion into new markets. For example, planning for a new Google service involves thorough market research and development.
  • Organizing: Google’s organizational structure encourages innovation and cross-functional collaboration. Different teams work together on projects, from search algorithms to self-driving cars.
  • Commanding (Directing): Google promotes a culture of creativity, experimentation, and data-driven decision-making. Managers are expected to support employees’ innovative ideas.
  • Coordinating: Google relies on project management tools and agile methodologies to coordinate software development and research projects effectively.
  • Controlling: Google continuously monitors user engagement and feedback to improve its products. Regular updates and algorithm changes are based on performance data.

Procter & Gamble (P&G):

  • Planning: P&G plans product launches, marketing campaigns, and global expansion strategies. The company conducts extensive market research to inform its decisions.
  • Organizing: P&G’s organizational structure is designed to manage a wide range of consumer brands efficiently, from diapers to laundry detergents.
  • Commanding (Directing): P&G emphasizes leadership, innovation, and sustainability. Managers are encouraged to lead by example and drive product innovation.
  • Coordinating: Effective coordination is vital in manufacturing and supply chain management. P&G uses advanced logistics and production processes.
  • Controlling: Quality control is critical in consumer goods. P&G implements strict quality standards and conducts product testing to ensure safety and performance.

Key takeaways

  • The Five Functions of Management: Henri Fayol’s theory, introduced in 1916, outlines five fundamental functions of management: planning, organizing, staffing, leading, and controlling. These functions are considered essential for effective management and have lasting relevance.
  • Leadership vs. Management: Leadership and management can overlap, but they serve distinct roles. Leadership focuses on long-term direction, motivation, and inspiration, while management deals with day-to-day operations and planning to achieve goals. Both are crucial for a balanced and successful organization.
  • Balance between Management and Leadership: Effective management can lead to short-term success, while strong leadership can motivate and inspire. Balancing these aspects is vital for long-term vision and short-term efficiency in a company.
  • Different Perspectives of Management and Leadership: Management and leadership contribute different perspectives in terms of thinking processes, goal setting, employee relations, operations, and governance. Combining these perspectives is essential for organizational success.
  • Five Functions of Management Defined:
    • Planning: Involves developing strategies, setting goals, identifying risks, and coordinating resources to achieve organizational objectives.
    • Organizing: Focuses on assembling resources, assigning roles, responsibilities, and authority to achieve efficient operations.
    • Commanding (Leading): Encompasses effective communication, decision-making based on audits, motivating employees, and maintaining company values.
    • Coordinating: Aims to create harmony among activities, proper resource allocation, and hiring qualified personnel to achieve goals.
    • Controlling: Involves monitoring progress toward goals and objectives, taking corrective action when necessary.
  • Limitations of the Theory: Fayol’s theory is based on anecdotal evidence and lacks empirical research. It’s inward-focused and doesn’t prioritize customer needs. The theory also lacks nuance in managing informal interactions and relationships within modern organizations.
  • Examples of the Five Functions of Management:
    • Planning: In a departmental setting, planning involves creating a conducive environment for teamwork, addressing issues, and setting achievable objectives.
    • Organizing: Apple’s organizational structure emphasizes functional alignment, decision-making power, and cross-functional collaboration for innovation.
    • Commanding (Directing): Apple assigns tasks with clear deadlines, encourages creative thinking, and values expertise over hierarchy in management.
    • Coordinating: Apple’s cross-functional collaboration involves hundreds of specialist teams and requires breaking deadlocks through senior leadership involvement.
    • Controlling: Apple sets benchmark KPIs, measures performance, and implements corrective action while adhering to its collaborative decision-making process.
  • Key Takeaways:
    • Fayol’s Five Functions of Management provide a framework for effective management.
    • Management involves more than supervision; it encompasses planning, organization, leadership, coordination, and control.
    • The theory has limitations in its applicability to dynamic and customer-focused organizations.

Connected Business Frameworks

Portfolio Management

Project portfolio management (PPM) is a systematic approach to selecting and managing a collection of projects aligned with organizational objectives. That is a business process of managing multiple projects which can be identified, prioritized, and managed within the organization. PPM helps organizations optimize their investments by allocating resources efficiently across all initiatives.

Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model

Harvard Business School professor Dr. John Kotter has been a thought-leader on organizational change, and he developed Kotter’s 8-step change model, which helps business managers deal with organizational change. Kotter created the 8-step model to drive organizational transformation.

Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model

The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model was created by David Nadler and Michael Tushman at Columbia University. The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model is a diagnostic tool that identifies problem areas within a company. In the context of business, congruence occurs when the goals of different people or interest groups coincide.

McKinsey’s Seven Degrees of Freedom

McKinsey’s Seven Degrees of Freedom for Growth is a strategy tool. Developed by partners at McKinsey and Company, the tool helps businesses understand which opportunities will contribute to expansion, and therefore it helps to prioritize those initiatives.

Mintzberg’s 5Ps

Mintzberg’s 5Ps of Strategy is a strategy development model that examines five different perspectives (plan, ploy, pattern, position, perspective) to develop a successful business strategy. A sixth perspective has been developed over the years, called Practice, which was created to help businesses execute their strategies.

COSO Framework

The COSO framework is a means of designing, implementing, and evaluating control within an organization. The COSO framework’s five components are control environment, risk assessment, control activities, information and communication, and monitoring activities. As a fraud risk management tool, businesses can design, implement, and evaluate internal control procedures.

TOWS Matrix

The TOWS Matrix is an acronym for Threats, Opportunities, Weaknesses, and Strengths. The matrix is a variation on the SWOT Analysis, and it seeks to address criticisms of the SWOT Analysis regarding its inability to show relationships between the various categories.

Lewin’s Change Management

Lewin’s change management model helps businesses manage the uncertainty and resistance associated with change. Kurt Lewin, one of the first academics to focus his research on group dynamics, developed a three-stage model. He proposed that the behavior of individuals happened as a function of group behavior.

Organizational Structure Case Studies

Airbnb Organizational Structure

Airbnb follows a holacracy model, or a sort of flat organizational structure, where teams are organized for projects, to move quickly and iterate fast, thus keeping a lean and flexible approach. Airbnb also moved to a hybrid model where employees can work from anywhere and meet on a quarterly basis to plan ahead, and connect to each other.

eBay Organizational Structure

eBay was until recently a multi-divisional (M-form) organization with semi-autonomous units grouped according to the services they provided. Today, eBay has a single division called Marketplace, which includes eBay and its international iterations.

IBM Organizational Structure

IBM has an organizational structure characterized by product-based divisions, enabling its strategy to develop innovative and competitive products in multiple markets. IBM is also characterized by function-based segments that support product development and innovation for each product-based division, which include Global Markets, Integrated Supply Chain, Research, Development, and Intellectual Property.

Sony Organizational Structure

Sony has a matrix organizational structure primarily based on function-based groups and product/business divisions. The structure also incorporates geographical divisions. In 2021, Sony announced the overhauling of its organizational structure, changing its name from Sony Corporation to Sony Group Corporation to better identify itself as the headquarters of the Sony group of companies skewing the company toward product divisions.

Facebook Organizational Structure

Facebook is characterized by a multi-faceted matrix organizational structure. The company utilizes a flat organizational structure in combination with corporate function-based teams and product-based or geographic divisions. The flat organization structure is organized around the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg, and the key executives around him. On the other hand, the function-based teams based on the main corporate functions (like HR, product management, investor relations, and so on).

Google Organizational Structure

Google (Alphabet) has a cross-functional (team-based) organizational structure known as a matrix structure with some degree of flatness. Over the years, as the company scaled and it became a tech giant, its organizational structure is morphing more into a centralized organization.

Tesla Organizational Structure

Tesla is characterized by a functional organizational structure with aspects of a hierarchical structure. Tesla does employ functional centers that cover all business activities, including finance, sales, marketing, technology, engineering, design, and the offices of the CEO and chairperson. Tesla’s headquarters in Austin, Texas, decide the strategic direction of the company, with international operations given little autonomy.

McDonald’s Organizational Structure

McDonald’s has a divisional organizational structure where each division – based on geographical location – is assigned operational responsibilities and strategic objectives. The main geographical divisions are the US, internationally operated markets, and international developmental licensed markets. And on the other hand, the hierarchical leadership structure is organized around regional and functional divisions.

Walmart Organizational Structure

Walmart has a hybrid hierarchical-functional organizational structure, otherwise referred to as a matrix structure that combines multiple approaches. On the one hand, Walmart follows a hierarchical structure, where the current CEO Doug McMillon is the only employee without a direct superior, and directives are sent from top-level management. On the other hand, the function-based structure of Walmart is used to categorize employees according to their particular skills and experience.

Microsoft Organizational Structure

Microsoft has a product-type divisional organizational structure based on functions and engineering groups. As the company scaled over time it also became more hierarchical, however still keeping its hybrid approach between functions, engineering groups, and management.

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