Control, often being so much a matter of technique, rests heavily on the art of managing, on know-how in given instances. However, there are certain principles which experience has shown have wide applicability.
Principle of standards:
Effective control requires objectives, accurate and suitable standards.
There should be a simple, specific and verifiable way to measure whether a planning program is being accomplished. Control is accomplished through people. Even the best manager cannot help being influenced by personal factors, and actual performance is sometimes camouflaged by a dull or a sparkling personality or by a subordinate’s ability to “sell” a deficient performance. By the same token, good standards of performance objectively applied, will more likely be accepted by subordinates as fair and reasonable.
Principle of critical-point control:
Effective control focuses special attention to those factors critical to evaluating performance against plans.
It would ordinarily be wasteful and unnecessary for managers to follow every detail of plan execution. What they must know is that plans are being implemented. Therefore, they concentrate attention on salient factors of performance that will indicate, without watching everything, any important deviations from plans. Perhaps all managers can ask themselves what things in their operations will best show them whether the plans for which they are responsible are being accomplished.
The exception principle:
The more that managers concentrate control efforts on significant exceptions, the more efficient will be the results of their control.
This principle holds that managers should concern themselves with significant deviations – the especially good or the especially bad situation. It is often confused with the principle of critical point control, and the two do have some kinship. However, critical point control has to do with recognizing the points to be watched, while the exception principle has to do with watching the size of deviations at these points.
Principle of flexibility of controls:
If controls are to remain effective despite failure or unforeseen changes of plans, flexibility is required in their design.
According to this principle, controls must not be so inflexibly tied in with a plan as to be useless if the entire plan fails or is suddenly changed. Note that this principle applies to failures of plans, not failures of people operating under plans.
Principle of action:
Control is justified only if indicated or experienced deviations from plans are corrected though appropriate planning, organizing, staffing, and leading.
There are instances in practice in which this simple truth is forgotten. Control is a wasteful use of managerial and staff time unless it is followed by action. If deviations are found in experienced or projected performance, action is indicated, in the form of either redrawing plans or making plans or making additional plans to get back on course. The situation may call for reorganization. It may require replacing subordinates or training them to do the task desired. Or it may indicate that the fault is a lack of direction and leadership in getting a subordinate to understand the plans or in motivating him or her to accomplish them. In any case, action is implied.