What is directing? Definition, Nature, Need, Principal.

  • Post last modified:7 October 2023
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What is directing?

Directing is dealing with relationship or communication between people to influence, supervise, motivate subordinates to achieve the organizational goals.

Direction carries human factors that explain guidance to workers in order to do work. In case of management direction refers to activities that are created to uplift subordinates in order to work efficiently and professionally.


The directing is considered as an initiating function. Organisation is the sum-total of human and non-human resources. These resources should be handled in a certain way to get the desired results.

Through direction, the management conveys and motivates individuals in the organisation to function in the desired way to get organisational objectives. Without direction, other managerial activities like planning, organising, and staffing become ineffective.


Here the manager will direct, instruct, guide and oversee the presentation of every workers so as to obtain already defined goals. It is the main part of the management process which is responsible for planning, organising, staffing.

Direction carries human factors that explain guidance to workers in order to do work. In case of management direction refers to activities that are created to uplift subordinates in order to work efficiently and professionally.

Definition of Directing

In the words of UrwickandBrech, “directing is the guidance, the inspiration, the leadership of those men and women that constitutes the real core of the responsibility of management.” Thus directing involves, issuing orders and instructions, overseeing of the subordinates and supervising the work being performed by them.

According to Haiman, “Directing consists of a process or technique by which instruction can be issued and operations can be carried out as originally planned.” Broadly, the process of directing involves the following elements:

  • Issuing orders and instructions to the subordinates regarding the work being performed by them.

  • Guiding, counselling and educating the subordinates and telling them the way of doing the given job.

  • Supervising the work being performed by them on the regular basis to ensure that they have been working according to the plan.

  • Maintaining and inspiring the subordinates for following given orders and instructions and working in the given direction.

Nature of Directing

There are certain characteristics related to directing which are

Pervasive Function

As directing is essential at every levels in an organisation, so it is the duty of the manager to give related guidance and to boost his subordinates.

Continuous Activity

In an organisation, direction serves as continuous activity throughout life in an organisation.

Human Factor

It is seen that directing is associated with subordinates and as human factor. As both are complex and unpredictable, hence direction serves as an important part.

Creative Activity

With direction, you can alter any plans into performance as in the absence of this; people will become stationary and physical resources results in no meaning.

Executive Function

As seen, direction is done with all managers and executives at certain levels without working of an enterprise.

Delegate Function

It is a function which is related to direction that deals with human beings.

Need and Importance of Directing

Directing may be considered as a core of managing process. The performances of various activities in organisation revolve around it. In spite of sound planning, a suitable organisational structure, effective staffing and efficient controlling, the desired results may not be obtained without proper directing. It is only through directing process, the organisational actions are initiated for achieving it objectives. In detail, the importance of directing can be understood on the basis of the following factors.

  • Directing helps in achieving Co-ordination

The Co-ordination is considered as a by-product of effective directing. In the process of directing, every manager integrates the activities of subordinates through supervision, guidance and counselling for achieving organisational goals.

  • It is a means of motivation

To accomplish the-objectives of organisation, it is necessary to motivate the employees working there. They are motivated to work willingly and efficiently, through the process of directing. The superior who directs the activities of subordinates inspires them to follow given orders and instructions wholeheartedly.

  • Directing supplements other managerial functions

In the process of managing, the manager has to perform many management functions such as planning organising, staffing and controlling etc. To produce desired results from all these functions, the directing function is crucial. Through directing, other managerial functions are initiated and actuated. Moreover, without effective directing, the managerial functions remain less effective.

  • Directing helps in coping with changing environment

The changing environment of business may force organisation to initiate change in its functioning, structure or goals. Such changes can be introduced and managed effectively with the help of directing. Through directing, the manager provides dynamic leadership and free and frank communication with subordinates as to convince them regarding the positive side of change. They may be taken into confidence and persuaded for accepting the change and giving their full cooperation for implementing it.

  • Directing facilitates order and discipline among employees:

Disciplined human force is needed for the smooth functioning and the success of the organisation. Through the process of directing orders and instructions are given to the subordinates and they are inspired and motivated to follow them. The main purpose of directing is to get things done by subordinates. By supervising, guiding, educating and overseeing the activities of subordinates, they are made to work in a disciplined manner.

Principles of Directing

In order to make directing more effective and meaningful, certain principles are followed. Some important principles of directing are as follows:

  • Harmony of objectives

The organisation is a collective entity of the people. It involves the interest of various groups of the people such as owners, employees, customers, financiers, society, etc. According to this principle, to secure maximum prosperity for the organisation and to serve the interest of other groups in a better way, these conflicting objectives must be synchronized so that they strengthen.

In this regard, P.W.Taylor has painted out that an effective direction depends on the harmony of objectives. Interestingly enough, Henri Fayol has also stated that the employees of organisation should sacrifice their personal interest for achieving the ob-jectives of organisation, because their personal interest may be served better only if common goal of organisation are achieved efficiently.

  • Unity of command

According to this principle while directing subordinates, every subordinate should get all orders and instructions regarding the work only from one superior. An application of this principle implies unified direction of subordinates? activities by one superior.

In doing so, discipline can be maintained among them their activities can be controlled effectively and dual command is avoided.

  • Direct supervision

Directing becomes more effective if it is accompanied by personal interest and personal touch of the superior. The superior maintains direct contact with subordinates, looks into their needs and requirement, helps them in performing their job and solve their difficulties promptly. The subordinates feel happy and satisfied and contribute more for the accomplishment of organisational goals.

  • Participative leadership

It is interesting to observe that participative leadership on the part of superior helps in making directing more effective. If the superior respects and listens to the views of subordinates, they become more loyal and sincere and give more cooperation to him.

According to this principle to encourage the performance levels, subordinates should be taken into confidence and must be consulted at least on the matters that are related to them before making decision by the superior.

  • Follow up

Issuing orders and instructions is the chief task of direction. In order to make directing, more effective it is necessary to take up some follow up actions by the superior. He should motivate subordinates to follow given directives and work accordingly.

He must oversee the working of subordinates, check their performance and guide them to follow suitable course of action for doing the Job.

  • Unity of direction

To make the whole process of directing more meaningful it is necessary to follow the principle of unity of direction. According to this principle, there should be one head and one plan for a group of activities, which are similar and have same objective.

For example, all activities related to production should have one plan i.e. the production plan and this plan should be implemented under the command of production manager. By adopting this principle, duplication and repetition of activities will be reduced and benefits of specializationmay be secured.


supervision means the act of watching over the work or tasks of another who may lack full knowledge of the concept at hand. Supervision does not mean control of another but guidance in a work, professional or personal context.
There are several interpretations of the term “supervision,” but typically, supervision is the activity carried out by supervisors to oversee the productivity and progress of employees who report directly to the supervisors.

For example,

first-level supervisors supervise entry-level employees. Depending on the size of the organization, middle managers supervise first-level supervisors; chiefexecutives supervise middle-managers, etc. Supervision is a management activity and supervisors have a management role in the organisation.

Occasionally, writers will interchange “leadership” and “supervision.” Both activities are closely related. Supervision requires leadership. Leadership does not necessarily have to involve supervision.

Role of a Supervisor

Supervisor serves as an important role in an organisation. In an organisation, the role of supervisor is to monitor the employees working. The work of supervision is carried out at companies, factories where supervisor will monitor products.

It is found that a supervisor is part of management team which will serves as position of first line managers. First line manager is a person who will work for many functions that will help in meeting the productivity. With this reason, a supervisor is only called as manager that has important role at execution level.

A supervisor plays multiple roles at one time

As a Planner

  • A supervisor serves as a planner as he/she has to plan for daily working schedules in an establishment. In planning, he bifurcates the work among different workers as per their abilities.
  • As a Manager: Since supervisor is part of management team, so ultimately to operate the working he was called as operative manager.
  • As a Guide and Leader: A supervisor guides the people working under him with necessary plan to be performed daily.
  • As a Mediator: A supervisor is a person who will communicate and work in between the management and workers. He serves as a coordinator among management as well as workers.
  • As an Inspector: An important function of supervisor is to monitor, regulate rules for workers, time scheduling and carried out performance for workers on daily basis. In the other way it serves as an inspector by inspecting rule, work, production and worker progress.
  • As a Counsellor: A supervisor sometimes plays the role of a counsellor when he/she involves in workers problems. At that time he has to really become a person that can make the worker satisfied with responses.

Functions of a Supervisor

To manage the function related to workers and progress, supervisor plays an important role. Being the part of management team, the supervisor works closely with concerned manager to do various functions involved.

The idea behind performance of certain functions is to take care about stability and soundness to an organisation with the idea of achieving profits with more productivity. With this, supervisor concerns with following functions:

  • Planning and Organising: Supervisors plans for day-to-day work and performs schedule for workers by showing and helping them about the nature of work.
  • Provision of working conditions: As seen, supervisor serves as an important function by doing physical settings in an organisation by arranging physical resources at correct place.
  • Leadership and Guidance: As studied, supervisor is a sort of leaders for workers who handle all workers problems. He guides workers through target and production scheduling through instructions and guidelines.
  • Motivation: A supervisor is important management personnel that link him with workers to pursue any work and to provide incentives to workers at various levels.

Controlling: The main aspect of supervisor is to

  • Takes care about the performance of workers against certain time schedule

  • Ensure and check the work progress

  • Locate for any deflection in making solutions

  • Involved in self-problem solving solution thereby reporting it to top managemen

Linking Pin

It is work of supervisor to handle and take care of every solution that exists among management and workers. The work of communicating and passing of relevant information to workers with the demand of management is the core concept which supervisor handles.

Grievance Handling

The supervisor can handle the grievances of the workers effectively. For this, he has to do the following things :

  • He must be in direct touch with workers.

  • He should win the confidence of the workers by solving their problems.

  • He should tackle worker problems on humanitarian grounds.

  • If he cannot tackle them independently, he can take the help and advice of the management to solve it.


A supervisor has an important role to report about the cost, quality and any such output, which can be responsible for increasing productivity.

Introducing new work methods

The supervisor needs to be updated and conscious related to new development and amendments regarding the production and market trends. So, the work of supervisor is to invent latest technique which saves production time and involves less workers wastage which could result in:

  • Higher productivity

  • High morale of workers

  • Satisfying working condition

  • Improving human relations

  • Higher profits

  • High stability

Enforcing Discipline

A supervisor can undertake many steps to maintain discipline in the concern by continuous checking and necessary measures such as strictness in orders and instructions, keeping an account of general discipline of factory, implementing penalties and punishments for the indiscipline workers. All these above steps help in improving the overall discipline of the factory.

Effective Supervision

Effectiveness of a supervisor is judged on the basis of how he is contributing to his organisation by his work. Thus, he and his effectiveness can be measured in terms of his qualities, his supervisory process and the result of his actions. All these are to be related to the contributions to the achievement of organisational objectives. Following are some of the elements of effective supervisory practices:


It is an act influencing activities related to individual or groups so as to attain goals in a particular manner. With this, an individual or group be able to share willingly to achieve goals.

Closeness of Supervision

It is the degree of closeness where the supervision varies from close-supervision to free-supervision. The quality of good supervisors is to monitor and supervise with less close supervision. It is seen that a close supervision will result in low morale and motivation as it stops the satisfaction as per the strongly feelings of subordinates.

Employee-orientation or Human Relations

It is studied that both employees and work are taken care with the help of two styles such as employee-oriented and production-oriented. It is seen that in employee oriented style, there exists great stress in interaction of employee?s jobs where as in production oriented style, the production and technical aspects depends on jobs and employees.

Thus, effective supervision is employee-oriented which creates a feeling in the minds of subordinates that their interests are taken into consideration in organisational practices. High producing workers are also of this opinion that they prefer employee-oriented technique because supervisors take personal interest in them, which motivates the workers. In this atmosphere, the various problems being faced by workers can be discussed with the supervisors concerned in order to find out their optimal solution.

Group Cohesiveness:

The belongingness to high-producing group enhances the members? regard for dignity of their own job. The amount of dignity assigned by group members to their own jobs is highly associated with group cohesiveness. An effective supervisor attempts for maintaining group cohesiveness by infusing confidence and trust in employees.


Appropriate delegation leads to high productivity, in the organisation. Effective supervision implies adequate delegation. A supervisor should not make any decision, which his subordinates can make. This not only develops confidence in the subordinates but also motivates them for better performance, besides saving a superior?s time to concentrate for other work.

Other Factors

It is found that there are certain factors apart from discussed above where supervision serves as an effective trend. In this, the subordinates will feel that the supervisor which can set superiors and satisfy their needs in terms of promotion, recognition and workcentred will get more benefits.

Direction and Supervision

Sometimes, confusion arises between direction and supervision. The basic reason for such confusion is the context in which the term supervision is used. Therefore, two terms- direction and supervision- differ in terms of context and content.

The term supervision is used in two ways. First, it is used as an element of direction and, therefore, every manager in the organisation performs the function of supervision irrespective of his level in managerial hierarchy. In this context, supervision involves guiding the efforts of others to achieve the stated objectives.

For example,

Terry and Franklin have defined supervision as, “guiding and directing efforts of employees and other resources to accomplish stated work outputs.” Thus, the scope of supervision is much more limited as compared to that of direction, which includes motivating and leading employees and communicating with them, besides guiding them. Second, the term supervision is used to denote the functions performed by supervisors- a class of personnel between management and operatives.

Whensupervision is used in this context, it includes all supervisory functions, which include planning organising, staffing, directing and controlling with varying emphasis on different functions. In this context, Newman and Warren have defined supervision as the day-to-day relationship between an executive and his immediate assistant and covers training, direction, motivation, Coordination, maintenance of discipline, etc. Thus, it becomes much wider than directing particularly at supervisory level.


What is Direction?

Directing is dealing with relationship or communication between people to influence, supervise, motivate subordinates to achieve the organizational goals.

What is Supervision?

supervision means the act of watching over the work or tasks of another who may lack full knowledge of the concept at hand. Supervision does not mean control of another but guidance in a work, professional or personal context.

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