Controlling Function of Management: Meaning, Features, Process, Types, and Importance

What is Controlling?

Controlling is the process of measuring the actual performance achieved with that of planned performance and taking corrective action if actual performance is not in accordance with planned performance.

Control i.e. controlling is one of the important functions of management. It is also known as a key to the management of the implementation of a plan.

In controlling, management first prepares plans and policies and later implements them to achieve predetermined objectives. According to the time interval, the manager evaluates the actual performance of each department and employee.

And, compares the actual performance with that of standard performance, and if any variation is found in actual performance, it takes corrective steps in time to maintain the standard.

The basic part of controlling is to achieve predetermined goals in a stated time and standard. Its motive is to facilitate the most effective and efficient attainment of organizational objectives.

Some popular definitions of control are:

  • DeCenzo and Robbins – Control is the process of monitoring activities to ensure that they are being accomplished as planned and correcting any significant deviations.
  • George R. Terry – Controlling is determining what is being accomplished, that is, evaluating the performance and if necessary, applying corrective measures so that performance takes place according to plans.
  • Robert Kreitner – Control is the process of checking, testing, regulation, verification, or adjustment to ensure that the organization’s mission and objectives are accomplished as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Thus, controlling is a management tool that facilitates measuring actual performance against planned performance and taking necessary steps if any deviation exists.

Characteristics of Controlling

The controlling function of management has the following seven important characteristics/features, they are:

nature/characteristics of controlling

Management Function

Controlling is a crucial function of management. It is a controlling function that brings about a balance between actual and planned performance. Without it other functions of management become worthless.

It measures actual performance with standard performance and takes corrective measures if any deviation between them so that planned organizational goals can be achieved.

Pervasive Function

It is a pervasive function in all levels of management from the top level to the first line. However, the degree of control depends upon the nature of management and the level of responsibility and authority.

Generally, the chief executive controls departmental managers, departmental managers control supervisors, and supervisors control the operating-level employees.

Continuous Process

It is a never-ending process and lasts till the existence of the organization. It involves a continuous analysis and study of the implementation of standards, policies, and procedures of the organization.

Establishment of standards, measurement of actual performance, comparison of actual performance against the standards, and taking corrective action if there is any deviation are continuous processes of controlling.

Related: Organizing Function of Management

Dynamic Process

The standards of operation of an organization will be reviewed on the basis of the changing environment of business. The procedures and systems of control must be changed to adapt to the changing standards of operation.

The manager has to introduce new techniques and strategies so that he is able to control the performance in a systematic way. Therefore, the controlling system must be flexible according to the time and requirements of the organization.


Controlling is not concentrated on past and present performance only, but it also focuses on future performance. It is designed to measure actual performance achieved and provide early information if there is any deviation.

The early detection of weaknesses and errors in work contributes to taking corrective action in time. This leads to effectiveness in future performance and will prevent such repetition of defaults in the future.

Measurement and Comparison

Controlling is a managerial tool that measures and compares actual and standard performance and takes corrective measures if there is a deviation.

Organizational authority is concerned with this process. The effective measure between actual and planned performance helps to achieve organizational goals in the defined standards.

Corrective Action

It is a management function through which a manager takes necessary steps if the actual work done is not in accordance with the standard work.

It takes necessary action for the proper utilization of available resources. It is a must for the efficient completion of predetermined work. Tactful action at the right time is the essence of controlling.

Types of Controlling

In management, there are three main types of control. They include:

  1. Pre-Control: This involves establishing guidelines and procedures before executing tasks, ensuring they are followed to prevent errors or deviations.
  2. Concurrent Control: This type of control takes place during the actual performance of activities, allowing for immediate detection and correction of issues as they occur.
  3. Post Control or Feedback Control: After completing tasks, feedback control involves evaluating the outcomes against predetermined criteria, enabling adjustments and improvements for future activities.

Steps of Controlling

Controlling in the workplace involves a systematic approach to ensure that organizational activities are on track and meet the desired standards. The five steps of the controlling process are as follows:

Establishment of Standard

The first step is to set clear and specific goals, targets, or standards against which performance can be measured. These standards provide a benchmark for evaluating the effectiveness of activities.

Measurement of Actual Performance

Once the standards are established, it is essential to measure the actual performance or outcomes of the activities. This step involves collecting data and information on how well the tasks have been executed.

Comparison of Actual Performance

The next step is to compare the actual performance with the predetermined standards. This allows managers to identify any deviations or variations from the desired outcomes.

Analyze the Cause of the Deviation

If there are deviations from the established standards, the next step is to analyze the underlying causes. This involves identifying the factors that contributed to the deviation and understanding why it occurred.

Related: Planning Process in Management

Taking Remedial or Corrective Action

After identifying the causes of deviation, appropriate remedial or corrective actions need to be taken. This step involves implementing measures to address the issues and bring performance back in line with the desired standards.

Why Controlling is Important in the Organization?

Let’s explore some of the reasons that clarify the importance of controlling in organizations.

Reduce Deviation

Controlling helps organizations minimize deviations from established standards and expectations. By monitoring performance and comparing it to predetermined criteria, managers can identify any variances and take corrective measures promptly.

This enables the organization to maintain consistency, quality, and efficiency in its operations, reducing the likelihood of errors and inefficiencies.

Keep Activities on Track

Effective control ensures that activities and tasks stay on track and aligned with the organization’s objectives. It helps in monitoring progress, identifying potential issues or bottlenecks, and taking proactive measures to address them.

This keeps the workflow smooth, enabling timely completion of tasks and projects, and ultimately contributes to overall productivity and success.

Also Read: Leadership in Management: Definition, Features, Functions, Qualities, and Styles

Ensure Goal Achievement

Controlling is instrumental in ensuring that organizational goals and targets are achieved. By regularly monitoring performance, managers can assess the progress toward the desired outcomes.

If deviations occur, appropriate corrective actions can be taken to realign efforts and steer them toward goal attainment. Control mechanisms provide feedback and allow for adjustments to optimize performance and increase the likelihood of meeting objectives.

Ensure Order and Discipline

Control fosters a sense of order and discipline within the workplace. Enforcing standards, rules, and procedures, establishes a structured environment where employees understand expectations and strive to meet them. This promotes consistency, accountability, and fairness in decision-making and behavior.

Additionally, control mechanisms provide a framework for compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, ethical standards, and industry best practices, promoting a culture of responsibility and integrity.

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