Five Management Functions in the Army

Every successful organization uses the five management functions; but not many can compare with the United States Armed Forces. I am currently serving in the U. S. Army and this organization has effectively applied the five management functions, because its existence depends on those five functions. They Army is constantly engaging in the five management functions; their operations are well led, organized, carefully planned, staffed, and constantly evaluated. I do not believe there is any organization other than the military where you would see these five functions linking so well coordinated.

“Planning is a systematic process in which managers make decisions about future activities and the key goals that the organization will pursue. The necessity of careful environmental scanning has an immediate impact on planning processes” (Reilly, Minnick, and Baack, 2011, sec. 7. 2). Making plans for future activities is one of the Army’s key functions; without planning its subordinate commands would deteriorate and lose focus on mission objectives and the quality of work.

In the Army, we use the Eight-Step Training Model; for which planning always starts out backwards by starting with the objective and working its way back to day zero. The planning is then broken down into three phases; long term, short-term and near term depending on the size of the organization or unit. I find the planning phase in the Army to be very effective because it is important for employees or soldiers to know what needs to happen in the days ahead. “The design methodology provides a means of approximating complex problems that allows for meaningful action” (Grigsby, 2011, p. 30).

Proper use of planning in the Army keeps the employees motivated and goal oriented. When planning in the Army goes wrong, you have Soldiers sitting around waiting on orders, people go unaccounted for, and will eventually negatively affect the other four management functions. Leadership is one of the key elements of the Army; in fact, it is one of its core values. Without the function of leading, the military would have no effect. The Army depends on leadership to be able to effectively organize, staff, plan, and control in order to have a productive work environment.

“Leading in a business context, consists of all activities undertaken to help people achieve the highest level of performance” (Reilly, Minnick, and Baack, 2011, sec. 7. 2). In the Army everyone is a leader to a certain extend because we all have the same goal. We are taught that “leadership is having the ability to influence people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization”; when asked “What is leadership? ” that will be the answer you will get from every Soldier (Department of the Army, 2006).

The Army, like other military services, is unique for leader development for two reasons; one is because the system is made so that you either move up in rank or get out; in other words if you fail to get promoted after a certain amount time then it is time for you to get out. In civilian organizations, employees can attain a certain level and remain that level until retirement. Second reason for its uniqueness in leadership is that they do not hire leaders outside of their organization; instead, senior level positions become filled by the individuals that are able to achieve promotion within the same organization (Fallesen, 2011).

“Organizing is the process of bringing people and resources together to create products and services in an efficient and effective manner” (Reilly, Minnick, and Baack, 2011, sec. 7. 2). In order for the Army to work, it requires a lot of organization; this is because there are so many different components that are required in order to make it operational and self-sufficient. Due to the size of the Army and any other military components; it is important to departmentalize different parts of it but essentially these parts have to be able to complement each other and work together to achieve mission success.

Take a deployment for example; when the Army deploys, it deploys several different units. These units have different tasks that will allow the entire organization to function as a whole; this means that if an infantry unit is due to deploy it will not deploy by itself, several different units will deploy to support the main objective. In other words, one part of the organization is tasked with the mission; the other portions of the organization will provide support such as transportation, resources, administrative support, etc.

In order to make this happen, these organizations must train together in order to know how each of their functional bodies fit into each other’s mission. It is almost like pieces to a puzzle watching different parts of the Army work together; even if they have never worked together or trained together, these organizations are able to fall in sync and make it happen. Using the management function of organization in the Army requires strong leadership and careful planning because if not properly executed the end results could be catastrophic and the loss unmentionable.

The Army is a unique organization that values history and tradition, in order to preserve its heritage the Army has many different criteria that individuals must meet or exceed. It is important for military leadership to choose the right individuals to join their ranks because these will be their future leaders; for this reason, staffing is a very important management function. “Staffing shares the human element with leading. Staffing involves choosing the right people.

Leading includes enticing the highest levels of performance from those people” (Reilly, Minnick, and Baack, 2011, sec. 7. 2). Whether it is a time of war or peace, the Army’s recruiting mission is probably one of the hardest and most demanding jobs. Recruiters are trained to select and train new Soldiers prior to shipping them off to Basic Training. To become a recruiter one must have exceptional leadership capabilities and it means that one must be willing and able to sacrifice a lot of personal and family time.

Recruiters are the sales-people of the Army, they must spend time with new recruits, influencing them and teaching them the core values of the organization. It takes a lot of commitment, because new recruits are not obligated to anything until they actually sign their contract the day they ship off Basic Training. At the same time, this gives recruiters the insight they need to determine if an individual belongs in the Army or not. As my previous leaders have often said, “You chose the Army, it did not choose you”.

It takes a certain type of individual to join the service, not everyone is made for the military. Aside from recruiting goals, the Army also has retention goals in order to maintain a certain level of strength in the military. Prior deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, the military’s retention goals and recruitment goals went up in order to satisfy the demand for troops overseas and troops to replace the ones overseas. It shaped and evolved the organization in order to meet these demands; it also required changes in its structure, resources, and planning.

Because of the Army’s staffing needs during two simultaneous wars, we saw changes like rescinding the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy” and the opening of combat roles for women in the military. “Controlling has one element in common with staffing. Both are involved in the performance appraisal process for individual employees. Standards link controlling and planning. Further, controlling begins the process of creating the next set of plans” (Reilly, Minnick, and Baack, 2011, sec. 7. 2).

The Army takes feedback seriously, for this reason they have implemented many different ways to gather information that will allow the organization to improve in every aspect. The Army does well at rewarding good performance and by doing so it gives Soldiers the inspiration they need to attain such rewards. Performance is evaluated in a matter that it provides its employees the feedback they need to improve in the areas identified and a way to help the Army identify anyone that does not need to be promoted to a leadership position.

Another way the Army applies the control function is by using After Action Reviews, in which it collects information following every training exercise in order to make improvements and identify areas to sustain. After action reviews all allow Soldiers to identify areas that their leaders need to improve on, such as conduct or performance during the training exercises; in the civilian world it is usually referred as constructive criticism (Rakow, 2005). By using these evaluative tools, the Army is able to create flexible leaders that are able to adapt and perform under any given circumstance.

The five management functions are very effective and very necessary in the military. The Army and any other military branch are prime examples of how these functions are linked to one another and perfectly explain why one function cannot exist without the others. The success of the Army revolves around their effectiveness in applying these functions into their everyday operations; it allows them to operate smoothly, allocate the proper resources, groom its employees in to leaders, identify areas of improvement, and carefully plan and organize future training events and contingencies.

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