Effective control systems tend to have certain qualities in common. These can be stated thus:
The control system must be suitable to the needs of an organization. It must conform to the nature and needs of the job and the area to be controlled. For example, the control system used in production department will be different from that used in sales department.
The control system should be easy to understand and operate. A complicated control system will cause unnecessary mistakes, confusion and frustration among employees. When the control system is understood properly, employees can interpret the same in a right way and ensure its implementation. To be useful the control system must focus attention on key, strategic and important factors which are critical to performance. Insignificant deviations need not be looked into. By concentrating attention on important aspects, managers can save their time and meet problems head-on in an effective manner.
Sound and economical: The system of control should be economical and easy to maintain. Any system of control has to justify the benefits that it gives in relation to the costs it incurs. To minimize costs, management should try to impose the least amount of control that is necessary to produce the desired results.
We live in a world of supersonic changes. Competitive, technological and other environmental changes force organizations to change their plans. As a result, control should be necessarily flexible. It must be flexible enough to adjust to adverse changes or to take advantage of new opportunities.
An effective control system should be forward looking. It must provide timely information on deviations. Any departure from the standard should be caught as soon as possible. This helps managers to take remedial steps immediately before things go out of gear.
Controls must be reasonable. They must be attainable. If they are too high or unreasonable, they no longer motivate employees. On the other hand, when controls are set at low levels, they do not pose any challenge to employees. They do not stretch their talents. Therefore, control standards should be reasonable they should challenge and stretch people to reach higher performance without being demotivating.
A control system would be effective only when it is objective and impersonal. It should not be subjective and arbitrary. When standards are set in clear terms, it is easy to evaluate performance. Vague standards are not easily understood and hence, not achieved in a right way. Controls should be accurate and unbiased. If they are unreliable and subjective, people will resent them.
Responsibility for failure: An effective control system indicates responsibility for failures. Detecting deviations would be meaningless unless one knows where in the organization they are occurring and who is responsible for them. The control system should also point out what corrective actions are needed to keep actual performance in line with planned performance.
Controls will not work unless people want them to. They should be acceptable to those to whom they apply. Controls will be acceptable when they are 1) quantified, 2) objective 3) attainable and 4) understood by one and all.
Personal observation provides first hand and intimate knowledge of the actual operation, function or activity. The information is not filtered through others. Personal observation is a very good method, in that it can pick up omissions, facial expressions and tone of voice that may be missed by others sources. However, it is subject to personal bias. What one manager sees, another manager may not use. Moreover, it is time consuming and obtrusive and it also develops a sense of insecure feeling in subordinates that the manager is not having confidence in them. Nowadays, statistical reports are widely employed by managers in order to measure performance.
Acquisition of information through conferences, meetings, one-to-one conversations or over the telephone or telex represents the examples of oral reports. One chief limitation of this method is that there is the problem of documenting this information for future references. Any analysis or decisions made based on subjective criteria should recognize the limitations of the subject.
In large scale units, checking all items produced is not easy. In such cases, managers pick certain items at random and check the pace of work. To check performance at higher levels, managers concentrated on key or strategic points only. Performance is measured usually at periodic intervals (weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly) without upsetting the routine work.
To make the checking process effective, the manager has to concentrate on three key aspects of measurement, viz., completeness, objectivity, and responsiveness. Complete measures provide an opportunity for the manager to concentrate on all aspects of the job instead of neglecting unmeasured tasks in favour of measured ones. Objective measures avoid the risks of bias and resentment, inherent in subjective assessment of task and people.