Thursday 18th December 08:27

Giants of Management: Henri Fayol

05._henrifayol_142Henri Fayol is one of the first giants of management thinking. His contribution to the development of management is immense, having influenced and been influenced by, the scientific management movement of F W Taylor and Henry Ford, two other early giants of management thinking. His fame rests on one book written in 1916 in French and not translated until the late 1940's. Yet this book with its no-nonsense list of management functions and principles, provides the rationale for the whole development of management thinking and practice in the 20th century and beyond. Fayol is truly one of the giants of management thinking.

The Life of Henri Fayol

Henri Fayol was born in 1841 in a suburb of Istanbul, Turkey, where his father, an engineer, was superintendent of works to build a bridge over the Golden Horn. They returned to France in 1847, where Fayol studied at the mining school in Saint-Étienne and joined a mining company in Commentry as an engineer. By 1888, he was a director of the mine which now employed over 1000 people. It became one of the largest producers of iron and steel in France. Fayol stayed there for 30 years until 1918 by which time he had written down his management experiences in a book called “Administration Industrielle et Générale”, the book that would be his lasting legacy.

The 6 Functions and 14 Principles of Management

In his book, Fayol proposed that there were six primary functions of management. They were:

1. forecasting
2. planning
3. organizing
4. commanding
5. coordinating
6. controlling

He then went on to explain that these functions should be carried out according to 14 principles of management, namely:

1. Division of work. People work best when they specialise.
2. Authority. Managers have authority for work.
3. Discipline. Good discipline is essential and the responsibility of managers.
4. Unity of command. Every employee should have one superior who is responsible for their work.
5. Unity of direction. There should be one manager in charge of each group of organisational activities and they should work to one plan.
6. Subordination of individual interests to the general interest. The interests of the organisation as a whole come before the interests of employees.
7. Fair remuneration.
8. Managers have to decide the degree of involvement of subordinates in decision-taking depending on the task.
9. Communications should be from top down unless this causes delays when a form of cross-communications can be agreed by all involved.
10. Order. People and materials should be in the right place at the right time.
11. Equity. Managers should be kind and fair to their subordinates.
12. Stability of tenure of personnel. There should be stability in employee turnover and replacements.
13. Initiative. Employees who are allowed to originate and carry out plans will exert high levels of effort.
14. Esprit de corps. Managers should promote team spirit in order to create harmony and unity in the organisation.

Fayol's Legacy

Fayol’s ideas had a major effect on how management functions in most established organisations. In many ways, they are the bible of management and the source of the idea that "managers have the right to manage". Whether knowingly or not, anyone who manages, even today, is almost certainly managing in accordance with Fayol's ideas and principles. 

Other Giants of Management:
Abraham Maslow