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Henri Fayol’s Contributions to Management Today Essay

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Updated: Dec 8th, 2019


Professor Henri Fayol developed management principles that have identified management as a discipline and a profession. Management involves tasks such as recruiting human resources and deploying them in the organization.

They also facilitate the allocation, utilization and control of material and financial resources to ensure that the organization runs effectively.

According to Fayol, managers should be knowledgeable with skills and responsibilities that can enable them address all areas of the organization (Smit, 2007). These areas include production, commercial and financial roles, as well as planning and coordination in management.

He identified five management roles that help a manager run an organization effectively. These roles include forecasting and planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling (McLean, 2011).

However, management has been seen as a leadership role that focuses on people. Leadership involves engaging people fully and effectively to transform ideas into products.

Such interaction between the management and staffs has seen a revolution in lean organizations. This form of leadership integrates managers and teams to ensure that an individual has the right to contribute and not just follow orders (Howel, Macomber, koskela & Draper, n. d).

Henri Fayol’s management theories were first proposed in the early 20th century. Despite many criticisms, Fayol’s theories still form the basis of management practices and teachings in the 21st century.

This paper will discuss Henri Fayol’s contribution to management and how his assertions have been incorporated in modern aspects of management.

Fayol’s Management Principles in Today’s Work Environment

The contribution of Henri Fayol cannot be dismissed even in the modern times. His contributions to the aspect of management are critical in various ways.

Modern organizations depict a complex environment characterized by diversity, corporate culture and the ever-changing technological advances.

The managers have the responsibility of ensuring that the organization is appropriately staffed to achieve its set objectives. For effective management of organization, there are certain aspects that have to be observed.

In this respect, Henri Fayol was critical as he managed to establish various principles that can be used by the managers for the effective running of the organizations.

Henri Fayol is regarded as one of the various management scholars to champion for task management. Therefore, his contributions to management have been integrated in the modern management aspects (McLean, 2011).

In the first place, the definition of management that was established by Fayol has continued to be used even in the modern times. In defining management, he identified the various functions of management.

These include forecasting and planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling. These aspects have formed a point of reference even in today’s management (McLean, 2011).

Fayol has been regarded as a strategist manager. This is in respect to how he handled the situation at Comambault where he established long-term goals and objectives for the organization.

Strategic management is critical in modern times and can be used to enhance the efficiency and profitability of modern organizations (Wren, 2001).

According to Fayol, all employees should be familiar with the skills required at their work level. However, as the employees advance into the management positions as defined by the hierarchy, they should also learn the technical skills in other areas of the organization.

This way, the management is able to command and coordinate employees in the various sections. For a person to reach the management level, he or she should have a sense of responsibility that gives them authority over the juniors.

The managers should have knowledge and skills that can be necessary to their area of interest in order to achieve this authority. Discipline is what governs the management process. Once a manager is responsible and disciplined, he or she will have authority over his teams (Pryor & Taneja, 2010).

This is a relevant aspect of management because leaders are expected to be conversant with the activities carried out by their teams.

However, this can be strengthened by recognizing that today some organizations are producing similar products and targeting the same markets. If managers behave and act the same way, then customers may not recognize the difference in these organizations (Brunsson, 2008).

Each organization seeks to gain a competitive advantage that places it before the competitors. This cannot be achieved through Fayol’s principles because if management is similar, then all organizations end up resembling each other.

This can be solved by coming up with unique ways of leadership that help the organization add value to its products. This calls for interactive sessions in which employees and their leaders come up with innovative ways of gaining advantage over competitors.

Therefore, management should be a collective responsibility that gives every employee a chance to participate in planning. This in opposition to Fayol’s principle that planning is meant for the leaders only (McNamara, 2009).

The chain of command can be regarded as a critical part of the management process. This is because it solves the conflicts that may arise if one employee has several bosses. It states that, for any action that an employee has to take, he or she should get the command from a single boss (Pryor & Taneja, 2010).

Today, this principle may not be absolutely right because diversity is what promotes growth. Therefore, this principle is applicable today. However, it can be changed if the situation prompts the top management to interact with the low level employees.

A good communication system simplifies the process and gives employees an opportunity to maximize their potentials in what they do (Brunsson, 2008).

Strategy entails determining the long term goals and objectives of an organization. Once this is accomplished, the resources are allocated and the course of action defined (Wren, 2001).

Today this remains to be the trend and is used by organizations to forecast on the expected growth in revenue. It has been improved further by creating a close relationship between leaders and their teams.

Leaders motivate their teams and stretch the target in an effort to reach what may seem impossible. When this is done, employees are motivated to meet what is seen as impossible.

Therefore, when strategies are being laid down, it is necessary to involve the employees. This will ensure that targets are met and even exceeded.

Involving employees while laying down the strategies produces better results as compared to having the managers strategize and pass down strategies to the employees (McNamara, 2009).

Another way increasing productivity is through motivation. According to Fayol, if employees are rewarded for an outstanding performance, they are likely to put more efforts and do even better in their work (Pryorn & Taneja, 2010).

Today, the issue of motivation is still relevant in encouraging employees to maximize their potential. Initially, employees were rewarded and motivated to do better based on what the management found out to be an excellent performance.

Nowadays, organizations focus on adding value to their products by delighting the customers. Therefore, organizations should be structured around the customers.

Employees who show outstanding performance through impressing the customers should be encouraged because this directly influences growth. Functions can be structured to ensure that every employee has a close link to customers.

For instance, cross functional teams can be established to ensure that every member of the team has a connection with the customers. This can be achieved by ensuring that all managers spend some of their time interacting with employees and customers.

This creates a customer culture in every employee unlike in the past where specialization was enhanced and customer contact limited. This can lead to deviation from customer interests whereby employees concentrate on cutting cost and producing more while overlooking customer needs (Wren, 2001).

Fayol emphasized on the importance of unity of direction in activities that have a similar objective. He stated that an organization should have a uniform interest that should prevail over those of the individual employees.

This is a good strategy of ensuring that employees treat their jobs with the utmost respect and are result oriented. This principle is applicable even in the modern work environment (Pryor & Taneja, 2010).

However, as opposed to Fayol’s principle that the organization’s interests come first, it is also necessary that an organization considers the needs of its employees, their interests, and perspectives that they have towards the organization.

This will help in ensuring that the organization’s interests also consist of the interests of its employees. The establishment of a dialogue a dialogue between the leaders and employees is important in ensuring that managers are aware of the employees’ needs.

This will indicate that the organization is mindful of its employees. The probability of conflicting interests between employees and the organization will be limited. Therefore, management should have a good relationship with the employees (McNamara, 2009).

Leaders have benefited from Fayol’s management principles to achieve excellent performance. For instance, division of labour has enabled employees to specialize in their tasks and work efficiently.

This has provided them with continuous learning and a great experience that is required in any job setting. He further stated that continuous training of employees is important because it prepares them to be more skilled, more knowledgeable, and more competent.

This also improves the organization’s capacity, capabilities and performance which serve as adequate ingredients for organizational efficiency. Today, this concept is applicable because the world is dynamic and employees need to be at par with technology and modernization.

Fayol’s proposal on training employees in the job continues to be a source of organizational efficiency in modern times (Pryor & Taneja, 2010). Learning at the job should also be used as a competitive advantage.

In this case, employees should be given a chance to learn from one another and other sources they deem beneficial. This is likely to give better results as compared to Fayol’s principal that proposes that training should be facilitated by the management (Wren, 2001).

Managers are expected to work with the employees while encouraging them. This makes their tasks simple because the managers simplify their processes and improve on efficiency. Fayol’s contributions to modern management are far reaching.

He advocated for planning and control in management, and these aspects have proved essential in modern management. He also outlined the roles and responsibilities of senior management in running organizations.

This is critical in modern days as it facilitates the success of the organization. Fayol was also pragmatic in outlining the importance of the human resource within the organization.

This aspect is being appreciated even today as the human resources are regarded as important assets to the organization. They are critical in determining the success or failure of the organization (Parker & Ritson 2005).

Fayol was instrumental in developing the administrative theory where asserted that: “the responsibility of general management is to conduct the enterprise toward its objective by making optimum use of available resources” (Wren, 2001, p. 282).

This principle has been incorporated in modern organizations where the management aspires to maximize on the available resources in realizing the objectives set by the organizations.


It can be acknowledged that Henri Fayol’s management theories were first proposed in the early 20th century and have continued to impact modern management. His assertions have received considerable criticisms from various management scholars.

Nonetheless, Fayol’s theories still form the basis of management practices and teachings in the 21st century. The contributions made by Henri Fayol in the field of management cannot be ignored. In this respect, it can be noted that Fayol was a critical scholar who will continue to be appreciated by many in the realm of management.

This includes his critics and followers because if one does not agree with his assertions, then Fayol provided fodder for the advancement of an opposing view. Nonetheless, this paper has practically demonstrated how the contributions of Fayol have been critical in modern day management.


Brunsson, K.H. (2008). Some Effects of Fayolism. Int. Studies of Mgt. & Org., 38(1), 30–47.

Howel, G.A., Macomber, H., koskela, L. & Draper, J. (n. d). Leadership Management: Time for a Shift from Fayol to Flores. Web.

McLean, J. (2011). Fayol-Standing the test of time manager. British Journal of Administrative Management, 74, 32-33.

McNamara, D.E. (2009). From Fayol’s Mechanistic to Today’s Organic Functions of Management. American Journal of Business Education, 2(1), 62-77.

Parker, L.D. & Ritson, P.A. (2005). Revisiting Fayol: Anticipating Contemporary Management. British Journal of Management, 16, 175–194.

Pryor, M.G. & Taneja, S. (2010). Henri Fayol, Practitioner and theoritician-Revered and Reviled. Journal of Management History, 16(4), 489-503.

Smit, P.J. (2007). Management principles: A contemporary edition for Africa. Cape Town, South Africa: Juta.

Wren, D.A. (2001). Henri Fayol as a Strategist: A nineteenth Century Corporate Turn around. Management Decision. 19(6), 475-487.

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