Definition of Management That Helps Better Understanding
of HR Management




It is essential to understand the definition of management in the different context it is used. This helps to better understand human resource management.

Click here for the definition of other terms related to Human Resource Management.

Dictionary definition is usually a list of brief explanation. Writers sometimes give lengthy explanation.

Management seemingly comes from the root word "man" meaning to "operate" or "be in-charge of" of something.

To operate means "to manage" which in turn can mean "to run".

Thesaurus lists the meanings for "run" as:
1. proceed
2. manage
3. operate
4. move
5. continue
6. compete
7. jog
8. course
9. sequence
10. enclosure
11. outing

You may find that this is going round in a circle in trying to understand the meaning of management.

Under "manage", we are given the meaning as:

  1. administer
  2. govern
  3. administrate
  4. lead
  5. control
  6. be in charge
  7. be in power
  8. handle
  9. manipulate
  10. direct
  11. rule
  12. organize


To Accomplish Things Through Others
Management is also defined as "to get things done through others."

This was the definition used by Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933). She defined management as "the art of getting things done through people."

This is a fine definition if there are other people through whom things are done or accomplished.

But if there are no other people involved and yet you are still achieving the targets, is it still called "managing"?

You are more in the position of being "in charge", "handling" the task at hand, and perhaps "directing" yourself in the process. You "managed" to accomplish the task not "through others".

So the definition of management in this context is that you got things done all by yourself, using your skills, knowledge and effort, not with the help of other people.

The definition given in wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn fits this situation. It gives the meaning of "manage" as "wield; handle effectively."

Other definitions are "administration" and "the process of managing." This appears to fit more the previous way of managing people which is more administrative than strategic.

Here is another meaning. When we say "You may submit your appeal to management," we are using "management" as referring to the group of executives who exercises control over the activities of the organization and who make or take decisions.

Top management is particularly relevant here.

Definition of Management by Different People or Entities

Each of the definition of management stated below introduces us to more ideas how the meaning may change as explained by different entities.

The definition of management by Wikipedia is:

    "Management in all business and human organization activity is simply the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives."

People are brought together in departments, teams, and groups, for example. It refers to "the act" of grouping people into teams.

Management guru Peter Drucker (1909-2005) stated that the basic task of a management is marketing and innovation. He was explaining "management" as a factor in the production process.

Apparently he was referring to the people who are performing the management function. But in a specific situation.

Functions of Management
Frenchman Henri Fayol talks of management as consisting of seven functions:
1. planning;
2. organizing;
3. leading;
4. coordinating;
5. controlling;
6. staffing, and
7. motivating.

Take, for example, an executive who performs only six of these functions. Is he or she performing a management function?

Surely he or she is.

According to another definition, management refers to those who perform the function of managing.

To Agha Hasan Abedi, "The conventional definition of management is getting work done through people, but real management is developing people through work."

He appears to refer to the Human Resource Development (HRD) function which involves training in the actual job itself.

Michael Armstrong in "Business & Economics (2004)" states:

    "The basic definition of management should therefore be extended to read 'deciding what to do and then getting it done through the effective use of resources'."

The words "deciding what to do" and "effective use" point to strategic planning. Resources will include people.

A definition by Lee Iacocca goes like this:

    "Management is nothing more than motivating other people."

Motivating people requires us to perform a series of functions related to management to ensure that what we plan will motivate employees.

The definitions vary in scope and may exclude other situations.

Other definitions have wide coverage.

Dynamic Meaning and Deciding What is Adequate Understanding
It is said that the definition of management is not static due to usage and practices by those in managerial positions. Thus the meaning can change.

This means that it is good if one can keep abreast of new development in this area.

We can go on and on. There is no need to.

What is essential is that you understand that through "managing" whether through other people or not, you are achieving the objective or objectives of what what you are required to do. You are demonstrating the effectiveness of the link between what your are doing, the act of doing and achieving the objectives.

It is enough if you have an adequate understanding of the definition of management. The better approach is to know "the how to" and whether the way you manage things is effective in accomplishing the targets of the tasks at hand. And thus helping, at the end of the day, to achieve the overall objectives of the organization.

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