A control system is necessary in any organization in which the activities of different divisions, departments, sections, and so on need to be coordinated and controlled. Most control systems are past-action-oriented and consequently are inefficient or fail. For example, there is little an employee can do today to correct the results of actions completed two weeks ago.
Steering controls, on the other hand, are future-oriented and allow adjustments to be made to get back on course before the control period ends. They therefore establish a more motivating climate for the employee.
What's more, although many standards or controls are simply estimates of what should occur if certain assumptions are correct, they take on a precision in today's control systems that leaves little or no margin for error. Managers would be better off establishing a range rather than a precise number and changing standards as time passes and assumptions prove erroneous. This would be fairer and would positively motivate employees. There are three fundamental beliefs underlying most successful control systems.
First, planning and control are the two most closely interrelated management functions. Second, the human side of the control process needs to be stressed as much as, if not more than, the tasks or 'numbers crunching' side. Finally, evaluating, coaching, and rewarding are more effective in the long term than measuring, comparing, and pressuring or penalizing
The Management Planning Process
Few managers realize that a company plan must provide the framework for the company control system. If missions, goals, strategies, objectives, and plans change, then controls should change. Unfortunately, they seldom do. Although this error occurs at the top, repercussions are felt at all levels.
Often, too, the standards of the control systems are derived from previous years budgets rather than from current objectives of company plans The result is that employees at lower levels are simply given "numbers to make" based on factors of which they have little knowledge and over which they have practically no influence.
Step 1: Setting Performance Standards
Performance standards may be set by staff or managers, by managers and staff, or by managers with input from employees whose performance is being measured. The last method is the best because employees believe that line and staff do not have enough information about the conditions of various jobs to set realistic standards.
Managers should see that objectives and standards are measurable and that individuals are held accountable for their accomplishment. The level of difficulty should be challenging but within the capabilities of the employee. Standards set too low are usually accomplished but not exceeded, while standards set too high usually do not motivate the employee to expend much effort to reach the goal.
It is important that standards be complete; however, it is difficult to develop a single standard or goal that will indicate the effective overall performance. For example, consider the automobile dealer who decided to measure sales peoples performance on the basis of the number of automobiles sold. Sales increased impressively, but it was later learned that many sales had been made to poor credit risks, and too high prices had been allowed on trade-ins.
Too many managers are looking for that one magic number that will tell them how well the company is doing or how their employees are performing. Standards for the automobile salespeople might have included number of sales, losses from poor credit risks, and profit on resale's. Standards should also be expressed in terms that relate to the job and are meaningful to the employees.
For example, the foremen in one plant were assigned standards based on break-even analysis, although none of them had any knowledge of this analytical technique. From a behavioral standpoint, it is...