A Guide To The Principle of Unity of Command

What is Unity of Command Principle?

The principle of unity of command means an employee should always receive a command, instructions, or duties from a single manager at a time.

This is the management principle that aims to reduce the likely adverse consequences that an employee will get when he receives instructions from a range of managers at a time. An employee should always be accountable to his immediate superior.

This principle assumes that employees are not capable to handle many tasks at a time, they should be instructed on a specific task at a time by a single in-charge. If not, when he is instructed by say, two-or-three supervisors, it creates work conflicts, the employees get confused – which duty to do first, whom to follow, which is an important task, and so forth.

It prevents the employee to do his task efficiently, later decreasing his productivity and the overall performance of the organization. But, when he is instructed by a single boss, he may better understand the responsibilities what & how to do, there establishes a better bond between the boss & employee, make his mind free from other work, and promotes the effectiveness of the performance.

Related: Unity of Direction Principle

Since it is discussed – that an employee should always have a single in-charge at a time, it does not mean he will never receive instructions from other in-charges, this means till the first duty is not completed he should not be flooded (disturbed) by other duties. Till the completion, he is only accountable to his immediate in-charge, and so the in-charge of his employee’s actions.

What happens when the unity of command principle is applied?

  • It increases productivity.
  • Supports efficient achievement of organizational goals and objectives.
  • Better relationship between the manager and employees.
  • Reduces the duplication of tasks.
  • May produce quicker decisions.
  • Promotes discipline.
  • Reduces the role conflicts of employees.

What happens when the unity of command principle of management is not applied?

  • Obviously, there are role conflicts since employees are given too many duties at a time.
  • Increases employee work burdens.
  • Increases the stress on employees.
  • Reduces the performance effectiveness.
  • Desired goals and objectives may not be achieved in time.
  • There may not be a good bond between managers and employees.
  • Makes hard to maintain a disciplined environment in the organization.

Read Next: Discipline Principle of Management

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