Change Basics: Fayols 14 principles of management

I am planning to review, respectively present some theories, that influenced modern Change Communication and Change Management, from time to time. I will start with the 14 principles of management that have been defined by Henri Fayol…

About the theoretist:
Henri Fayol (1841-1925) was a French management theorist whose theories in management and organization of labor were widely influential in the beginning of 20th century. Originally he was a mining engineer who worked for the French mining company Commentry-Fourchamboult-Decazeville, first as an engineer. Then he moved into general management and became Managing Director from 1888 to 1918. During his tenure as Managing Director he wrote various articles on ‘administration’ and in 1916 the Bulletin de la Société de l’ Industrie Minérale, printed his “Administration, Industrielle et Générale – Prévoyance, Organisation, Commandement, Coordination, Contrôle”. In 1949 the first English translation appeared: ‘General and Industrial Management’ by Constance Storrs.

First deductions of his managerial thoughts:
Based on his observations within the mining business, Fayol defined management roles and actions and distinguished them between five elements:

  • Prevoyance (Forecast & Plan): Examining the future and drawing up a plan of action. The elements of strategy.
  • Organize: Build up the structure, both material and human, of the undertaking.
  • Command: Maintain the activity among the personnel.
  • Coordinate: Binding together, unifying and harmonizing all activity and effort.
  • Control: Seeing that everything occurs in conformity with established rule and expressed command.

The final result – 14 principles of management:
As a result of his very first deductions and to illustrate his five elements, Fayol finally created 14 principles of management.

  • Division of work: Specialization allows the individual to build up experience, and to continuously improve his skills. Thereby he can be more productive.
  • Authority: The right to issue commands, along with which must go the balanced responsibility for its function.
  • Discipline: Employees must obey, but this is two-sided: employees will only obey orders if management play their part by providing good leadership. Unity of Command. Each worker should have only one boss with no other conflicting lines of command.
  • Unity of direction: People engaged in the same kind of activities must have the same objectives in a single plan. This is essential to ensure unity and coordination in the enterprise. Unity of command does not exist without unity of direction but does not necessarily flows from it.
  • Subordination of individual interest (to the general interest): Management must see that the goals of the firms are always paramount.
  • Remuneration: Payment is an important motivator although by analyzing a number of possibilities, Fayol points out that there is no such thing as a perfect system.
  • Centralization (or decentralization): This is a matter of degree depending on the condition of the business and the quality of its personnel.
  • Scalar chain (line of authority): A hierarchy is necessary for unity of direction. But lateral communication is also fundamental, as long as superiors know that such communication is taking place. Scalar chain refers to the number of levels in the hierarchy from the ultimate authority to the lowest level in the organization. It should not be over-stretched and consist of too-many levels.
  • Order: Both material order and social order are necessary. The former minimizes lost time and useless handling of materials. The latter is achieved through organization and selection.
  • Equity: In running a business a ‘combination of kindliness and justice’ is needed. Treating employees well is important to achieve equity.
  • Stability of tenure of personnel: Employees work better if job security and career progress are assured to them. An insecure tenure and a high rate of employee turnover will affect the organization adversely.
  • Initiative: Allowing all personnel to show their initiative in some way is a source of strength for the organization. Even though it may well involve a sacrifice of ‘personal vanity’ on the part of many managers.
  • Esprit de Corps: Management must foster the morale of its employees. He further suggests that: “real talent is needed to coordinate effort, encourage keenness, use each person’s abilities, and reward each one’s merit without arousing possible jealousies and disturbing harmonious relations.”

At first the 14 principles of management trigger analogies with theories established by Taylor or Ford. But from my point of view there are three elements that are of special interest – especially when it comes to Change. I will pick them up here once again and explain why those elements are of such relevance within change processes.

  • Discipline: As Change is largly still negatively interpreted, discipline is lost within a state of chaos during most change processes. This chaos is fueld by several factors, such as management change, absurd timing or dud consultants.
  • Stability of Tenure of Personnel: In addition to the lack of discipline stability gets lost as a consequence to uncertainty. The information delay between management and employees – that is still asserted to be essential within Change – causes waves of instability that become bigger and bigger the longer the change process is taking.
  • Esprit de Corps: Business can be compared with the army in this very case. When discipline and stability is lost the “esprit de corps” is going out. As soon as this happens Change has been screwed up to 70% – Change is getting really tricky then, as you have to deal with employees acting like “zombies“…I will explain what I mean with this in another post.

As a consequence, keep your eyes open, discipline up and stability high, if you are intending to start a Change…

Picture credits


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