Professional accountants are often employed in a managing as well as an accountancy capacity. This requires an understanding of the responsibilities and duties of a manger and of the lower level of management, that of supervision.
The duties of a manger were first detailed by the writer Henri Fayol. He detailed five ‘elements of management’ which guide the management task. These are:
I. To forecast and plan (‘prevoyance’): To look into the future and set objectives in an attempt to understand and control the future. This element is further subdivided into the need for unity (each department’s objectives being wielded together for the common good of the organization); continuity in short and long-term forecasting; flexibility in the need to adapt to circumstances and precision in attempting accurate future actions.
II. To organize: To build the human and material structure of the organization.
III. To command (draws on the military roots of management theory): To maintain activity amongst the workforce.” Command” may be an outdated idea, modern writers would suggest that ‘motivation’ is more appropriate, although ‘command’ has a clear meaning in terms of the ultimate responsibility of management.
IV. To co-ordinate: Fayol saw this as the process of binding together, unifying and harmonizing the activities of those employed in the organization.
V. To control: That which brings conformity with established rules and command, through ensuring that targets are achieved and objectives met. This idea again draws on the military roots of management theory.
VI. Supervision is an important and integral part of the task and process of management. The role of supervision is a critical one because of the direct contact and responsibility for the work of others.
It used to be said that a manager did his or her job by getting others to do theirs; in many ways this sums up the role of the supervisor. The role differs from that of the management in that the supervisor is unique, being the interface between management and the workforce and is the direct link between the two.