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The Control Process


K. Boulding states that the barest essential of any organization is a control mechanism. Control is the key factor. If the control mechanism fails, plans and programmes will also fail. A control mechanism or control process has five basic elements. They are as follows.

  • Establishment of standards of performance
  • Measurement of actual performance
  • Comparison of actual performance with the original standards
  • Taking corrective action
  • Feedback 

Establishment of standards : A standard is a criterion against which future results can be measured. Such standards may be tangible or intangible. A standard should be tangible, for better evaluation. It should be clear and meaningful. Performance standards are expressed in terms of cost, quality, quantity and time. Standards like employee morale, discipline, public relations, image of the concern, etc. cannot be easily quantified, as they are intangible. Quantitative standards can be determined by statistical methods such as sampling. 

Measurement of actual performance: The very purpose of control is to check or measure the actual performance. If the standards prescribed are tangible, it is easy  measure the performance in seminar units. If the standards are intangible, it is difficult to measure the performance. Work, operations and turnout should be observed, measured and facts collected. Statistical data, reports, opinions, accounting information, etc. will help in measuring the actual performance. 

Comparison of actual performance with the original standards: After measuring the actual performance, it has to be compared with the original standards. The comparison may disclose either agreements or deviations from the standards established. But the manager has to be very clear about the concept of deviation: minor or negligible deviations may be ignored, but major and significant deviations should be correctly understood. For this, the manager must have his own range of tolerance, which he can fix with his knowledge and experience. 

Taking corrective action: As soon as deviations are reported, the concerned manager should take steps to correct the action. This is essential because measurement of performance should not become just a ritual or post mortem of past events. If the deviation is significant, then the original standard itself has to be rechecked. Corrective action should be taken immediately, without any loss of time. Corrective action may be improving the methodology, techniques, organizational structure, proper selection, training and remuneration of workers, or even effective communication ·and successful motivation. Corrective action may be either to cure or to prevent such deviations. Wherever possible, automatic, self-regulating mechanisms should be introduced to bring back performance in line with the original plan. 

Feedback: Feedback is an important element in the control process. It ties together all the elements of the control mechanism. The controller will receive feedback information regarding actual performance in comparison with the ·original standards. If the feedback is positive and reveals accomplishment, the manager must encourage and appreciate the subordinates. If the feedback brings negative results, the manager has to take corrective action and alter the operations accordingly. Feedback will help in getting information well in time about the work performance, and it also motivates people.