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 manager and of the lower level of management, that of supervision.
(a) The duties of a manager were first detailed by the writer Henri Fayol. He detailed five ‘elements of management’ which guide the management task:
The first is to forecast and plan, that which he called ‘prévoyance,’ to look into the future and set objectives in an attempt to understand and control the future.
This element he further sub-divided into the need for unity; each department’s objectives being welded together for the common good of the organisation; continuity in short and long term forecasting; flexibility in the need to adapt to circumstances and precision in attempting accurate future actions.
The second element is to organise; to build the human and material structure of the organisation.
The third element (drawing on the military roots of management theory) is to command; that is 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 ‘Command’ may be an outdated idea, modern writers would suggest that ‘motivation’ is more appropriate, although ‘command’ has a clear meaning in terms of the ultimate responsibility of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.
The fourth element is to co-ordinate, Fayol saw this as the process of binding together, unifying and harmonising the activities of those employed in the organisation.
Finally, the element of 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.