The command unit is a management principle coined by Henri Fayol, which indicates that an employee must receive orders from a single superior.
One of the 14 principles of Henri Fayol’s administration is the command unit. The importance of this principle is that its absence can affect the other principles. Principles such as authority and discipline are compromised.
In this sense, one of the main threats of this principle is the duality of command. Duality of command is a situation in which two superiors have the power to give orders to a subordinate or lower-level employee. Or, seen from another perspective, when an employee can receive and must fulfill the orders of two superiors.
Therefore, Fayolism does not contemplate the possibility of duality of command. Understand that it is not effective and that it causes problems. On the one hand, the employee who does not know who should pay more attention, and on the other, between the two superiors who could establish a kind of struggle to demonstrate their authority.
Fundamentals of the command unit
The fundamentals under which the command unit rests are:
- Improvement of productivity: Duplicate tasks are avoided, the time dedicated to meetings with superiors is optimized and allows the employee to focus on a single task.
- Reduction of labor disputes: In addition, the command unit also avoids conflicts between superiors and between employees. Therefore, personal relationships derived from the profession are more fruitful.
- Improvement in decision making: By having more productivity and fewer labor disputes, the work motivation increases This produces that the decisions are of better quality, more creative and much faster.
This principle is closely related to that saying that says that “He who covers a lot of little squeezes.” This saying refers to the fact that if you are several things at once, in the end you don’t focus on one task. Better do little very well, than do much very bad.
Command unit and steering unit
The difference between the control unit and the steering unit can be understood with the following scheme:
As we see in the previous image, although they have a point in common they refer to different concepts. The concept of the management unit includes that of the control unit, but also adds the fact that the same plan is followed for a common objective.
Both the principle of unity of direction and command are given in hierarchical organizations. That is, in organizations or companies in which the chain of command It is very well typed. A very clear example of organizations that follow these two principles and are hierarchical par excellence are military organizations.
Example of control unit
Suppose, for example, that we work at the branch of a large company developing SWOT analysis extensive. The objective is that the companies that hire our service can improve. We are analysts and work in the business analysis department.
For the command unit to be fulfilled, we must receive orders from a single superior. In case we receive orders from two or more superiors the command unit does not exist.
A very common problem in companies is that some employees receive orders from their superior and the superior from said superior. Following the example, imagine that we receive orders from the director of business analysis department and at the same time from the director of the branch in which we work. Another common is also that we receive orders from different departments.