Initial Thought: The word ‘ Control’ has a number of connotations, and when it comes to business circles, ‘ control’ signifies authority. A police force will use whatever is necessary to ‘ control’ unruly crowds, and use of force could be one of them. An introduction to controls would suggest power and authority, because control is something that keeps things under check. In business the term has significance with regard to employee relationships, and when an organization is able to control a number of people in an organization, it would mean that the management has power to maintain authority over decision-making, which in managerial terms is a negative connotation. Control would be dictatorial and against the principles of employee engagement. Just imagine an organization that controls the behavior and thoughts of employees. It would be suppression of thoughts and actions; the essence of employee engagement. Today, almost all organizations believe in engaging their employees in decision-making processes. This allows employees to voice their concerns against certain practices that they feel, can be changed to enhance operations, and at the same time, create job satisfaction.
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– Starting off the section, we’re introduced to the concept of Control, which is said to be a regulatory process that establishes standards to achieve organizational goals. The chapter also talks of how controls are used to compare performance with standard and take corrective action when necessary (p. 337). The chapter also talks about how standards are formulated and cites the example of Starbucks that develops its standards based on customer feedback and complaints.
The concept of control is then explained with details of how standards are formulated and includes benchmarking as a scale to develop standards to measure how competitors perform their business functions or tasks.
I was confused by the term ‘ control,’ because to me, control has always been authoritativeness. Even though I feel I am right to a certain extent as it is a regulatory process that establishes standards to achieve organizational goals, I wasn’t really sure that controls are used to compare performance with standards and take corrective action when necessary. Perhaps the best example in my opinion about control would be assessment, where the performance of an organization is viewed in comparison to another, and the results are used to change the way the organization functions. I did however, find it interesting to read about ‘ control’ and how it could be initiated in the process of developing, improving, or replacing technology or functions.
– The second section of the chapter talks about control process, and how it is implemented. Control process begins with setting goals, which is followed by a comparison of actual performance to performance standards, and finally identifying performance deviations if any, and implementing programs to correct them (p. 337-339).
This process reminded me of the equity theory, where HRs, responsible for ensuring that employees chase the organizational goal, are engaged in programs that enhances production and quality of work. In order to do so, HRs evaluates the performance of employees, and sets out motivational programs that drive employees to achieve the desired goal.
– The third section of the chapter looks at the three basic control methods; the feedback controls, concurrent control, and feedforward control (339). Feedback control as the name suggests is about how performance is assessed after it is run, and the feedback is used to correct any deficiencies, if any. Concurrent control assesses deficiencies as and when it happens, and feedforward control looks for deficiencies before they occur.
I was reminded of how a product is introduced in the market. Every product has a lifetime, and they all go through a life-cycle. The control process seems to go through a similar life-cycle. When a product reaches a saturation point and customers begin to wane, organizational heads meet to discuss the next step to revive their product. In order to move forward, they seek response from the public to understand what is it that they find missing in their product. The feedback is used by the decision-makers of the organization to develop a new product. A number of possibilities are worked out and then, the best two or three are tested to see how they would fare in the market. The product prototype is tested to see its compatibility and market acceptance. If the product meets the needs of the consumers, it is then compared to an existing product of a competitor in the market to assess its advantages. Once the tests are run successfully and the product meets the needs of the consumer, it is launched in the market.
– The fourth section of the chapter talks about the different methods managers can achieve control in their organizations. These methods include the bureaucratic control, the objective control, the normative control, the concertive control and the self-control (p. 342).
I was reminded of the various managerial styles prevalent in organizations today. While some organizations believe is dictatorship, others are more employee-centric and involve employees in discussions and policy-making initiatives. The bureaucratic control is quite similar to authoritative style of governance, where managers have absolute power to monitor and control employees. The objective, the normative, the concertive and the self-control controls are more admissible and in practice in the corporate world.
– The last main point from the chapter asks the question on what specifically is it that managers need to control. Is it the quality, the quantity, the cost, or customer satisfaction?
This section starts off by mentioning whether by addressing one particular control all other controls can be addressed. The section then lists out the different controls can enhance performance of organizations. These include the balanced scorecard approach to control, the financial perspective to control, the customer perspective, the internal perspective to control quality, and the innovation and learning perspective where wastage and pollution are controlled (p. 346-352).
In this section a number of possibilities are considered and each option is weighed by their advantages and disadvantages.
I understood this section quite well. Although it would be prudent to say that all organizations go through this process, I must say that I have personally witnessed organization heads brain-storm to understand how they can utilize their available resources to develop new products to meet customer expectations and challenge competition. The production manager, the project manager, the finance manager, the design manager, and the marketing manager team up to discuss the various possibilities to develop their product to compete in the global market. In order to do this, they take feedback from the market, from customers, to evaluate the financial implications in developing a new product to meet customer expectations and needs, and beat competition.
Williams, C. (2012). Principles of Management. 5th ed. Cengage Learning, pp. 337-352.