10 May 2017

Henry Fayol’s Functions of Management

In 1916 Henry Fayol published his book – “Administration Industrielle et Générale” – and in 2017, 101 years later, it was brought to my attention by Amanda Epps.

Ms Epps brought this to a management seminar as an example of extra-curricular reading around the subject of management and leadership. Monsieur Fayol (for he was French) slipped through my reading net, largely because I concentrated on auto-biographies and company stories rather than theoretical books on management. However the exception being the exceptional Peter Drucker whose writing and commentary was arresting in its simplicity and prescience. Anyway, on to Fayol.

Henry developed, through his work as a senior mining executive, a simple description of the six functions of management and I present them to you:

Functions of Management

  1. Planning
  2. Organizing
  3. Commanding (Leading)
  4. Coordinating
  5. Controlling
  6. Predicting

French is a language rich in its ability to imbue single words with layers of meaning and this is true of ‘Function 5’ – Controlling. In the French management context, it conveys the spread of ideas regarding monitoring, gaining feedback on progress, analysing deviations, making adjustments, taking new decisions and so on. You may already have spotted the rather modern idea of gaining feedback before decisions are taken.

There is a world of wisdom in this book and I recommend it to you for this reason plus one other, it will convince you that nothing is new in pure management terms. This is a good thing as it frees us from having to invent new concepts and allows us to concentrate on the principles associated with directing our business and leading our people.

You can buy it here:

General and industrial administration – Henry Fayol

If you like the idea of reading ancient tomes on management, then here is another recommendation from 1911. If ever you doubted that management was a discipline then this is a good argument that it is. It is short and only £0.99p in the Kindle edition.

The Principles of Scientific Management – Freder

Have a good read.