Planning as a Function of Management

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sherri Hartzell

Sherri has taught college business and communication courses. She also holds three degrees including communications, business, educational leadership/technology.

Planning is one of the primary managerial functions and it leads to other managerial functions such as organizing, controlling, and staffing. Learn about planning as a managerial function, the benefits of planning, and the barriers that interfere with planning. Updated: 08/14/2021

Why Managers Plan

Have you ever walked up to a pretty girl, and when you started to talk, nothing came out but silence? Have you run out of gas just a few miles from the nearest gas station? Have you found yourself freezing cold, wishing you had worn a sweater? Or maybe you have had to pull an all-nighter to finish a project that you procrastinated on until the last possible minute? What all these scenarios have in common is a lack of planning. Having a plan is a good practice for everyone, especially for managers.

Here are some of the reasons why it is a good idea for managers to plan:

  • Managers can examine critical issues facing the organization instead of waiting for them to blow up in their face. Allowing uncertainty, high risk and doubt to rule in an organization is never a good idea. Planning allows a manager to determine organizational goals and define a means of achieving them.
  • A manager can set explicit guidelines for decision-making when done in advance. This allows the manager to be both small picture- and big picture-minded when making decisions.
  • A manager is able to be more proactive than reactive in decisions. Failing to plan will take away your ability to look into the future and potentially predict an inevitable event before it becomes an issue. Planning increases the likelihood of long-term survival of an organization.
  • A manager can focus attention on organizational goals and results.
  • A manager is able to create ownership of the plan and develop a team that buys into and accepts accountability for their role in the plan.
  • A manager can provide a sense of direction, vision, rationale and purpose for the plan, which can be easily communicated to other members of the organization, showing them how serious a manager is about reaching organizational goals.
  • A manager can create a competitive advantage by taking the time to plan - a process that allows an organization to examine who they are in relation to their competition and thus provide a good deal of insight into how to be better than that competition.

Now that we know why it's a good idea for managers to plan, let's dive a bit deeper into the planning function of management.

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Planning as a Function of Management

In the world of management, planning is as fundamental as it gets. If you recall, the first of the managerial functions is planning. Many believe planning is the most fundamental of the managerial functions because all other functions, including organizing, leading, controlling, and staffing, stem from the planning function. Planning prepares organizations for tomorrow today by assessing what an organization wants to accomplish and how it will go about achieving that goal.

Managers will spend much of their time planning for all sorts of things that may or will occur in the organization. Typically a manager will create a plan that is aimed at accomplishing some organizational goal such as increasing sales or improving customer service. However, it is important to note that planning is an ongoing step that can be highly specialized based on an organization's goals, division goals, departmental goals and team goals. It is up to the manager to recognize what goals need to be planned within their individual area.

For example, let's say Erin the enrollment manager has noticed a steady decline in the amount of students enrolling in the business program, so she creates a goal to increase enrollments in that area. Erin must first spend time mapping out the necessary steps she and her team of enrollment advisors need to take to increase the enrollment numbers of undergraduate business students. These steps might include things like increasing online advertisements on business-related sites, creating a new advertisement for television or radio, asking current business students to talk to their friends and family about enrolling in the program or going out to local high schools or community colleges to speak directly with students who may be enrolling at the university in the next semester. The steps are then organized into a logical pattern so that Erin and her team can follow it.

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