Control your workflow smoothly
When we plan, we predetermine a course of action that will enable us to reach an objective. Whether or not we can stay on our predetermined course depends on how well we perform the management function of controlling.
Definition of control
We can define control as the work a leader has to perform to assess and regulate work that is being done and results achieved, by measurement, and evaluation of the work by means of standards, and if necessary, to take corrective steps.
Effective control enables you to analyze and appraise the work being performed in your unit. It depends on your ability to collect, store, analyze and report information. The more effectively you can monitor work in progress and compare results to your plan, the more quickly you can take the corrective action necessary to get back on course.
By exercising control, the educational leader is assured that tasks are effectively carried out, and he remains the one responsible for the use and execution of delegated authority. Thus, the better the control, the more effective the delegation.
The Purpose of Control to ensure effectiveness throughout the organization:
- Keep things in line and to make sure your plans hit their targets,
- Ensure that employees are at work on time
- to ensure that materials are not wasted or stolen
- to ensure that some persons do not exceed their authority
- Guide you and your department to production goals and quality standards
- Realize planning
- Evaluate planning and if necessary
- Make necessary adjustments
- Establish if the actual activities are the same as the planned activities
Principles of Control
The principle of the critical few
“In any given group of occurrences, a small number of causes tends to give rise to the largest proportion of results” The key to effective control is to put your major efforts behind the few important things and not waste time and energy on routine detail.
For example, in controlling quality, a small percent of defects will cause the bulk of rejects. So, once you have identified the critical few causes, you can determine where to give most attention for the greatest results for the least investment of energy and resources.
The principle of point of control
“The greatest potential for control tends to exist at the point where the action takes place. In many cases, control information is initiated at higher organisational levels, where the total control effort slows down. It is vital to catch mistakes and correct errors as soon as possible after they have happened.
To anticipate and prevent them before they occur, the better. Make sure that leaders receive direct information to control their own operations. Pro-active control is not likely to happen at the point where the work is actually being done.
The principle of self-control
“Self-control tends to be the most effective control”
To give people self-control, means that they must have standards they understand and accept, and from which the receive direct information that tells them where they stand with respect to the standards.
Make sure they receive frequent feedback on the results, so that they know where they stand according to the work they have done. People have to correct mistakes themselves and this leads to greater work satisfaction.
Ways of Control
Control may be exercised mainly in two ways:
This is achieved by means of personal discussions and observations, where the actual situation is observed and evaluated and can be corrected at once. Much paper work is reduced in this way, but not always possible, due to time. This control by inspection may cause staff to feel that they are not trusted.
This is done by means of oral or written reports. With this way of exercising control, the staff feel that they are trusted and time is better utilized. The staff can also try to correct their own mistakes instead of waiting to be told how to correct a mistake.
The Control Process
The control process follows four sequential steps:
- Establishment of standards
- Simply stated – what criteria will provide evidence that performance is at the desired level?
- State what is the expected standard (e.g.. quality, quantity, time)
- State how much of the deviation can be tolerated if the person or process fails to come up to the mark.
All these standards serve as guidelines for future action. The more specific the standard is the better. For example, “waiting time of less than 5 minutes per customer with a tolerance of one out of ten who might have to wait longer”.
Standards are determined by management after consultation with clients, specialists and leaders. They are influenced by materials, machines and equipment, skills of the workers, and the degree of competition from other companies that manufacture similar products.
Collect data to measure performance
What information do you need to compare actual performance to the standards? Every time a leader or an employee fills in a time card, prepares a production tally, files a receiving or inspection report, or simply by watching, data is being collected.
Compare results with standards
Measure and Analyze
The reasons must be found for any deviations from the standards. The extent of deviation from the plan must be determined and the factors identified that contributed to the confirmation to the plan.
Compare and Evaluate
What is the assessment of actual performance compared to the standards?
The control system flashes a warning light if there is a gap between what was expected (the standard) and what has taken place (the result). If the gap is too big – action is called for.
Take corrective action
- What must be done to bring performance to the desired level of excellence?
- First find the cause of the gap (deviation from standard).
- Then you must take action to remove or minimize the cause.
For example, if travelers are waiting too long in the airline’s ticket line, the leader may find that there is an unusually high degree of travel because of the holiday. The corrective action should be to add another ticket clerk.
Where in the Process to Control
Leaders should look for key places (make-or-breakpoints) in their operations and then focus most of their attention on these areas. There are three distinct types of control opportunities.
This takes place at the input stage before the process begins. Materials and machinery are inspected. Employees are selected for each assignment. By catching problems before they can affect later operations gives preventative control the greatest potential for savings.
Concurrent control take place during the conversion phase of a leader’s operations. Pressures and temperatures are checked and on-line inspections are made as partially converted products flow through the process. Concurrent control make their biggest contribution by catching and correcting problems before they get out of hand.
This takes place at the output-stage after an operation is completed, a product is finished, or a service is delivered. Such “final inspections” occur too late to do much good for what has already happened. The value of this type of control, is in alerting leaders to ongoing performance problems to be avoided in the future.
Types of organizational Control
The following control types are most likely to aid or restrict a leader’s actions:
The quantity of production required is the demand for almost every organization. A leader must first make sure that output quantities measure up to standards.
Quantity and quality go hand in hand. The inspection function is intended to make sure that the final product or service lives up to its quality standards (specifications). Quality control is a way of predicting quality deviations in advance so that a leader can take corrective action before a product is spoiled.
There must be certain deadlines in every organization. A product must be transported on a certain date. A service must be performed on an agreed-on day. A project must be completed as scheduled. It is not enough just to get the job done, if it isn’t finished on time.
The leader must make sure that the minimum material is wasted and that the maximum number of skirts (for example) are cut out of a roll of cloth.
The final crunch in exercising control involves costs. A leader may meet the quantity and quality standards, but if in so doing the department has been over staffed or has been working overtime, it probably wont meet its cost standard.
Employee performance control
Here it focuses on individuals or groups of employees, rather than on a department, a chine, or a process. Such control may be concerned with employee absences, tardiness, and accidents as well as with performance that is directly related to the quantity or quality of the employees’ work.
Aids to Exercising Control
There are various aids to exercising control. The following are the most important:
- Formulating objectives
- Formulating policy
- Projections and planning
- Procedures, rules and standards
- Task descriptions
- Task descriptions
- Organisational structures
- Personal observation
- Oral and written reports
- Control times
- Budgets and other statements.
Exercising control is not a negative action or activity, but is a positive management action. Exercising control is aimed at making the planning and organising succeed and to achieve results/objections and not at the activity of the people.
How to Soften Employee Resistance to Control
Many people do not like to be told what to do, they feel boxed in when faced with specific standards. Yet criticism or correction is what control often comes to. Control can have a negative effect on employees, and to minimize the negative aspects of control, the leader can consider any of the following more positive approaches:
Emphasize the value of control to employees
Standard provide employees with feedback that tells them whether they are doing well or not, and also minimize the need for the leader to interfere and thus allow the employee to choose a way of doing the job as long as standards are met.
Avoid arbitrary or punitive standards
Employees respond better to standards that can be justified by past records that support the standards. Standards based on analysis, especially time studies, are more acceptable to see how long it takes to complete a job and that you can be sure the standard is reasonable.
Be specific: use numbers if possible
Avoid such vague expressions as “improve quality” and “show us better attendance”. Be specific and use numbers such as, “fewer than two days’ absence in the next six months” or “decrease your scrap percentage from 7% to 3%.
Aim for improvement rather than punishment
When the work is below standard, try to help employee to find out what it is that is preventing him from meeting standards. If it takes too long, perhaps he missed a special operation.
Avoid threats that you can’t or won’t back up
Don’t say, “if you don’t get your production up to 150 a day by the first of April, I will recommend that you be laid off for good”. If you make a specific threat, it is good to make certain in advance that the company will help you make it stick.
Be consistent in the application of control
Make sure that everyone measures up to the standards you have set. If there are exceptions, be prepared to defend that position.