Management Function of Coordinating / Controlling: Overview of Basic Methods

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    Management Function of Coordinating / Controlling: Overview
    of Basic Methods

    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting,
    Adapted from the Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision in Business
    and Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision for Nonprofit Staff.

    Basically, organizational coordination and control is taking
    a systematic approach to figuring out if you’re doing what you
    wanted to be doing or not. It’s the part of planning after you’ve
    decided what you wanted to be doing. Below are some of the major
    approaches to organizational control and coordination.

    Sections of This Topic Include

    Introduction – “Controlling”
    Getting a Bad Rap?

    Administrative Controls
    Financial Management
    Performance Management
    Policies and Procedures
    Quality Control and Operations Management
    Risk, Safety and Liabilities
    Additional Perspectives on the Management Function of Coordinating

    Also consider
    Related Library Topics

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    In addition to the articles on this current page, see the following blogs which
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    Leadership Blog

    Library’s Supervision Blog

    Introduction: “Control” Getting a Bad Rap?

    Many People Are Averse to Management “Control”

    New, more “organic” forms or organizations (self-organizing
    organizations, self-managed teams, network organizations, etc.)
    allow organizations to be more responsive and adaptable in today’s
    rapidly changing world. These forms also cultivate empowerment
    among employees, much more than the hierarchical, rigidly structured
    organizations of the past.

    Many people assert that as the nature of organizations has
    changed, so must the nature of management control. Some people
    go so far as to claim that management shouldn’t exercise any form
    of control whatsoever. They claim that management should exist
    to support employee’s efforts to be fully productive members of
    organizations and communities — therefore, any form of control
    is completely counterproductive to management and employees.

    Some people even react strongly against the phrase “management
    control”. The word itself can have a negative connotation,
    e.g., it can sound dominating, coercive and heavy-handed. It seems
    that writers of management literature now prefer use of the term
    “coordinating” rather than “controlling”.

    “Coordination” Must Exist or There’s No Organization
    — Only an “Experience”

    Regardless of the negative connotation of the word “control”,
    it must exist or there is no organization at all. In its most
    basic form, an organization is two or more people working together
    to reach a goal. Whether an organization is highly bureaucratic
    or changing and self-organizing, the organization must exist for
    some reason, some purpose, some mission (implicit or explicit)
    — or it isn’t an organization at all. The organization must have
    some goal. Identifying this goal requires some form of planning,
    informal or formal. Reaching the goal means identifying some strategies,
    formal or informal. These strategies are agreed upon by members
    of the organization through some form of communication, formal
    or informal. Then members set about to act in accordance with
    what they agreed to do. They may change their minds, fine. But
    they need to recognize and acknowledge that they’re changing their

    This form of ongoing communication to reach a goal, tracking
    activities toward the goal and then subsequent decisions about
    what to do is the essence of management coordination. It needs
    to exist in some manner — formal or informal.

    The following are rather typical methods of coordination in
    organizations. They are used as means to communicate direction
    and guide behaviors in that direction. The function of the following
    methods is not to “control”, but rather to guide. If,
    from ongoing communications among management and employees, the
    direction changes, then fine. The following methods are changed

    Note that many of the following methods are so common that
    we often don’t think of them as having anything to do with coordination
    at all. No matter what one calls the following methods — coordination
    or control — they’re important to the success of any organization.

    Various Administrative Controls

    Organizations often use standardized documents to ensure complete
    and consistent information is gathered. Documents include titles
    and dates to detect different versions of the document. Computers
    have revolutionized administrative controls through use of integrated
    management information systems, project management software, human
    resource information systems, office automation software, etc.
    Organizations typically require a wide range of reports, e.g.,
    financial reports, status reports, project reports, etc. to monitor
    what’s being done, by when and how.


    Delegation is an approach to get things done, in conjunction
    with other employees. Delegation is often viewed as a major means
    of influence and therefore is categorized as an activity in leading
    (rather than controlling/coordinating). Delegation generally includes
    assigning responsibility to an employee to complete a task, granting
    the employee sufficient authority to gain the resources to do
    the task and letting the employee decide how that task will be
    carried out. Typically, the person assigning the task shares accountability
    with the employee for ensuring the task is completed. See Delegation.


    Evaluation is carefully collecting and analyzing information
    in order to make decisions. There are many types of evaluations
    in organizations, for example, evaluation of marketing efforts,
    evaluation of employee performance, program evaluations, etc.
    Evaluations can focus on many aspects of an organization and its
    processes, for example, its goals, processes, outcomes, etc. See
    (many kinds)

    Financial Statements (particularly budget management)

    Once the organization has establish goals and associated strategies
    (or ways to reach the goals), funds are set aside for the resources
    and labor to the accomplish goals and tasks. As the money is spent,
    statements are changed to reflect what was spent, how it was spent
    and what it obtained. Review of financial statements is one of
    the more common methods to monitor the progress of programs and
    plans. The most common financial statements include the balance
    sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. Financial audits
    are regularly conducted to ensure that financial management practices
    follow generally accepted standards, as well. See For-Profit
    Financial Management
    and Nonprofit
    Financial Management.

    Performance Management (particularly observation and feedback

    Performance management focuses on the performance of the total
    organization, including its processes, critical subsystems (departments,
    programs, projects, etc.) and employees. Most of us have some
    basic impression of employee performance management, including
    the role of performance reviews. Performance reviews provide an
    opportunity for supervisors and their employees to regularly communicate
    about goals, how well those goals should be met, how well the
    goals are being met and what must be done to continue to meet
    (or change) those goals. The employee is rewarded in some form
    for meeting performance standards, or embarks on a development
    plan with the supervisor in order to improve performance. See
    Overview of Performance Management.

    Policies and Procedures (to guide behaviors in the workplace)

    Policies help ensure that behaviors in the workplace conform
    to federal and state laws, and also to expectations of the organization.
    Often, policies are applied to specified situations in the form
    of procedures. Personnel policies and procedures help ensure that
    employee laws are followed (e.g., laws such as the Americans with
    Disabilities Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act, etc.) and
    minimize the likelihood of costly litigation. A procedure is a
    step-by-step list of activities required to conduct a certain
    task. Procedures ensure that routine tasks are carried out in
    an effective and efficient fashion. See Personnel

    Quality Control and Operations Management

    The concept of quality control has received a great deal of
    attention over the past twenty years. Many people recognize phrases
    such as “do it right the first time, “zero defects”,
    “Total Quality Management”, etc. Very broadly, quality
    includes specifying a performance standard (often by benchmarking,
    or comparing to a well-accepted standard), monitoring and measuring
    results, comparing the results to the standard and then making
    adjusts as necessary. Recently, the concept of quality management
    has expanded to include organization-wide programs, such as Total
    Quality Management, ISO9000, Balanced Scorecard, etc. Operations
    management includes the overall activities involved in developing,
    producing and distributing products and services. See Quality
    and Operations

    Risk, Safety and Liabilities

    For a variety of reasons (including the increasing number of
    lawsuits), organizations are focusing a great deal of attention
    to activities that minimize risk, avoid liabilities and ensure
    safety of employees. Several decades ago, it was rare to hear
    of an organization undertaking contingency planning, disaster
    recovery planning or critical incident analysis. Now those activities
    are becoming commonplace. See

    Wellness Programs (diversity management, safety, ergonomics, etc.)


    Additional Perspectives on the Management Function of Coordinating

    Impact of Organization Culture on Internal Controls

    as a Management Function

    of Coordination – Management Study Guide

    For the Category of Management:

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