Everything you need to know about the principles of directing. Directing is one of the most complex functions of management as it deals with people whose nature itself is quite complex.

Because of this reason, effective directing is really an art which can be learned and perfected through long experience. However, managers may follow some principles while directing their subordinates.

Principles of direction are goal allocation, initiating action, accountability, decisiveness, and scalar chain. When it becomes leading, the principles undergo several metamor­phoses.

For instance, goal allocation becomes participatory goal setting; accountability becomes joint accountability, and so on.


The principles of directing are:-

1. Minimum Individual Contribution 2. Harmony of Objectives 2. Unity of Command 3. Appropriateness of Direction Technique 5. Managerial Communication

6. Use of Informal Organisation 7. Direct Supervision 8. Democratic Managerial Style 9. Principle of Comprehension 10. Principle of Information 11. Leadership

12. Principle of Orientation 13. Principle of ‘Rational’ Orders 14. Scalar Chain Principle 15. Principle of Friendly Supervision 16. Motivation 17. Group Dynamites 18. Principle of Follow-Through.

18 Principles of Directing – Minimum Individual Contribution, Harmony of Objectives, Unity of Command and a Few Others

Principles of Directing – Top 8 Principles: Minimum Individual Contribution, Harmony of Objectives, Unity of Command and a Few Others

Providing good and effective directing is a challenging task as it involves many complexities. A manager has to deal with people with diverse background, and expectation, this complicates the directing process. Certain guiding principles of directing may help in directing process. Certain guiding principles of directing may help in directing process.


These principles are briefly explained below:

Principle # 1. Minimum Individual Contribution:

This principle emphasize that directing techniques must help every individual in the organisation to contribute to lies minimum potential for achievement of organisation objectives. It should bring out confuted energies of employees for the efficiency of organisation.

For example – A good motivation plan with suitable monetary and non-monetary rewards can motivate an employee to contribute his minimum efforts for the organisation as he or she may feel that their efforts will bring them suitable rewards.

Principle # 2. Harmony of Objectives:


Very often, we find that individual objectives of employees and the organisation objectives as understood are conflicting to each other. This principle explains that there should be cordial relationship between all the stake holders of the organisation. The different objectives should not be the barrier of the organisation, but they should be complementary to each other.

For example – An employee may expect attractive salary and monetary benefits to fulfill his personal needs. The organisation may expect employees to improve productivity to achieve expected profits. But good directing should provide harmony by convincing that employee rewards and work efficiency are complementary to each other.

Principle # 3. Unity of Command:

This principle insists that a person in the organisation should receive instructions from one superior only. If instructions are received from more them one it creates confusions, conflict and disorder in the organisation. Following this principle ensures effective direction.

Principle # 4. Appropriateness of Direction Technique:

According to this principle appropriate technique should be used while directing the people based on subordinate needs, capabilities, attitudes and other situational variables.

For example – for some people money can act as powerful motivator while for other promotion may act as affective motivator.

Principle # 5. Managerial Communication:

Effective managerial communication across all the levels in the organisation makes direction effective. Directing should convey clear instruction to create total understanding to subordinates, through proper feedback, the mangers should ensure that subordinate understands his instructions clearly.

Principle # 6. Use of Informal Organisation:

A manger should realize that informal groups or organisation exits within every formal organisation. He should spot and make use of such organisations for effective directing.

Principle # 7. Leadership:

While directing the subordinates mangers should exercise good leadership as it can influence the subordinates positively without causing dissatisfaction among them.

Principle # 8. Follow Through:

Mere giving of an order is not sufficient. Mangers should follow it up by reviewing continuously whether orders are being implemented accordingly or few problems are being encountered. If necessary suitable modifications should be made in the directions.

Principles of Directing According to Koontz and O’ Donnell

According to Koontz and O’ Donnell, the following principles provide the foundations of sound and effective direction:


(i) Principle of individual contribution to objective, i.e., the manager should be able to motivate subordinates to peak performance.

(ii) Principle of harmony of objectives, i.e., harmonising the individuals’ objectives with the group objectives.

(iii) Principle of efficiency of direction, i.e., efficient direction leads to the attainment of goals and objectives at minimum cost.


(iv) Principle of unity of command, i.e., subordinates should be responsible to one superior.

(v) Principle of direct supervision, i.e., the objective methods of supervision and control should be supplemented by direct personal supervision.

(vi) Principle of appropriateness of direction technique, i.e., the technique of supervision should be appropriate to the person supervised and the task in hand.

(vii) Principle of managerial communication, i.e., the manager is the principal medium of communication m any enterprise.


(viii) Principle of comprehension, i.e. the receiver of communication should comprehend the information communicated to him.

(ix) Principle of information, i.e., the direct flow of information is most effective for communication.

(x) Principle of strategic use of informal organisation, i.e. the managers must recognise and utilise the informal organisation constructively.

(xi) Principle of leadership, i.e., effective leadership is essential to effective direction.

Principles of Directing – 11 Principles that Help Managers in Directing: Appropriate Selection of Employees, Participation, Communication, Counselling and a Few Others

Direction function is an important area of management as it deals with people. Understanding the behaviour of people is a complex phenomenon and directing them to contribute to organisational goals with a common vision is, thus, a complex task.

However, the following principles help managers perform the complex function of direction:

1. Appropriate Selection of Employees:


Direction is related to the function of staffing. While selecting employees, managers should ensure that people can adjust to the organisation structure and willingly carry out the directions of their superiors. Chances of demotions and separations should be reduced to as low as possible. It is easy to direct people who are committed to their task and see organisational goals as a means to achieve the individual goals.

2. Participation:

Since direction influences the behaviour of others, managers follow the principle of participation (while preparing the directives). If those who carry out the directions participate in making policies regarded directions (motivational plans, leadership styles, communication pattern), direction function will be able to accomplish its purpose effectively.

3. Communication:

To make direction effective, managers ensure two-way flow of communication between them and the employees. Employees should be allowed to express their feelings to superiors. An effective system of communication ensures passing of orders and instructions by superiors which are smoothly carried by subordinates and expressing problems and grievances by subordinates to superiors which are solved by the superiors. Direction function aims at maximising the interest of not only self but also others in the organisation.

4. Counselling and Guidance:

When employees face problems in carrying out their tasks, managers provide them the necessary counselling and guidance. This makes direction effective as employees can approach the superiors for counselling whenever required. It is important that subordinates carry out the instructions the way they are intended by the superiors. There should be complete understanding of communication between the superiors and subordinates. Doubts and queries of subordinates should be cleared by superiors through proper guidance and counselling.

5. Unity of Command:

The basic principle that makes direction effective is one boss for one subordinate i.e., all directions, orders and instructions should come from one boss. If subordinate receives instructions from more than one superior, he may not be able to carry out the instructions of any of them. This will create confusion and conflicts to the dissatisfaction of both, the superiors and subordinates.

However, in the contemporary business environment characterised by extreme specialisation, it may not always be possible to follow the principle of unity of command. Functional organisation, project organisation, matrix organisation have the system of dual command and even multiple command system. The direction function should ensure that employees are able to maintain balance amongst the instructions issued by bosses of different functional areas.


Direction function cannot be performed in an environment of restrictions. There are different techniques of direction (authoritative, participative, free reign) which are followed depending upon the need of the situation.

6. Unity of Direction:

One plan or related set of activities should have one head. All activities related to marketing must be headed by the marketing manager and those related to personnel should be headed by the personnel manager. This avoids duplication of actions and instructions and results in optimum use of scarce resources.

7. Synthesis of Conflicting Objectives:

Every group of people, whether owners, managers, or workers has personal interest as supreme while carrying out the organisational activities. This can lead to conflicting interests which may hamper the organisational growth. Effective directions, motivation, guidance and counselling make people understand that their goals are subordinate to organisational goals. This enables different groups of people move towards the same direction. The conflicting objectives are, thus, synthesized into a single plan, one objective, one direction and one goal, that is, to maximise the organisational goals.

If subordinates view organisational interest as supreme, organisation also takes care to look after the interest of subordinates.

8. Direct Supervision:

Direct supervision of employees helps them know deviations in their performance and ways to remove them. This also maintains direct contact between superiors and subordinates and increases interest in their work and confidence and loyalty in their supervisors.

9. Contribution:

Direction aims at getting maximum contribution from employees by exploiting their talent to the best. If employees have the potential to contribute more than their present performance, direction helps in enhancing the contribution towards organisational objectives.

10. Use of Informal Organization:


Though directions are issued in a formal organisation structure, managers should make use of informal organisation also to speed up the process of direction. Information travels faster amongst informal groups and directions can be effectively carried out because people can freely interact with each other.

11. Follow-Up:

Managers should receive constant feedback on their directions to know whether or not employees are working according to their directions. If employees have problems, they should solve their problems and if need arises, even revise the directions.

Principles of Directing

Some of the principles of directing are:

(1) Harmony of Objectives:

There must be harmony or fusion between the objectives of a subordinate and those of enterprise. This emphasizes interpersonal aspects of mana­ging. When both interests are integrated, contribution of subordinates to the company goals will be maximum and the directing process will be effective.

Directing must foster the sense of belonging to the organisation so that they can iden­tify themselves with the company and tune their goals with those of the company. Hence directing is essentially person­nel management.

(2) Unity of Direction or Command:

Employees should receive orders and instructions only from one superior, other­wise authority is undermined, discipline is in danger, disorder and confusion will be created and stability may be lost.

(3) Direct Supervision:


Direct contact with subordinates must be maintained by each superior. Personal touch, face- to-face communication, informal relationship ensure succes­sful direction. Each subordinate feels a sense of participation when he has direct access to his boss. It raises employee morale. It also develops feedback of information

(4) Democratic Managerial Style:

Modern direction must adopt democratic, participative managerial style particularly when workers and subordinates are competent and desire ac­tive participation in management of the enterprise.

(5) Follow-Through:

Successful direction depends on con­tinuous never-ending guidance, supervision, advice, coaching, counselling and helping the subordinates in their activities- Directing is not only telling people what to do but also seeing that they do it as per your plan. Effective direction demands achievement of results.

This can be assured only by oversee­ing subordinates, in addition to issuing orders, instruction and directives to subordinates. Overseeing employees at work is called supervision and it is required at all levels of manage­ment.

Principles of Directing – Important Principles Governing the Application of the Directing Function

A reference to some fundamental principles of directing is likely to highlight better, the true concept and nature of this managerial function.

Following are the important principles, governing the application of the directing function, in a managerial context:

(i) Principle of Effective Directing:

According to this principle, the more effective the directing is; the more and better would be employees’ contribution to the attainment of common objectives. Accordingly, a manager while performing this function must try to use the best of his skills and techniques of directing – to ensure maximum efficiency in the performance of this function.

(ii) Principle of Orientation:

New employees – must be oriented or introduced to-the job to be performed by them, work environment, superiors, subordinates and colleagues and the rules, policies and objectives of the enterprise; before they are asked to perform their roles. In a way, all the necessary information about their job assignments must be provided to them; so that they can perform their jobs, in the best and desired manner – in the broad context of the organizational setting.

(iii) Principle of ‘Rational’ Orders:

To initiate the process of actual work performance during directing, management must issue such orders and instruction to employees, as are rational i.e. in the context of and relating to basic enterprise objective; and their best attainment.

(iv) Principle of Unity of Command:

As a principle of directing, unity of command implies that one employee must be issued orders and instructions only by one superior at a time; and the directed exclusively only by that superior (to avoid clash and overlapping of instructions and guidance) during the entire directing stage. The observance of this principle is likely to yield the best results out of the performance by subordinates.

(v) Scalar Chain Principle:

As a principle of directing, scalar chain implies that the employee or the subordinate must be directed only by his most immediate superior, who would be perhaps, in the best position to understand the behavior and competence of the subordinate. The most immediate superior can apply best directing techniques, specially motivation and leadership, in view of the requirements, problems and temperament of his most immediate subordinate; and ensure best performance by the latter.

(vi) Principle of Friendly Supervision:

During the directing stage, a manager must exercise only friendly supervision over subordinates; with a view to motivating and encouraging them and developing good human relations. Autocratic or dictatorial supervision must be rarely adhered to; as it is likely to fail in producing effective results, in the long-run.

(vii) Principle of Harmony of Objectives:

While initiating the directing process, the objectives of the individual and those of the organization must, preferably be, thoroughly harmonized – through adequate motivation and outstanding leadership. In fact, the best performance by subordinates at the directing stage would occur; when subordinates while working for the enterprise feel that their personal objectives are being fulfilled.

(viii) Principle of Outstanding Leadership:

According to this principle, the manager – director must exhibit outstanding leadership; so that the followers i.e. the subordinates are filled with zeal and enthusiasm and get fully dedicated to the common cause of the organization.

(ix) Principle of Free and Open Communication:

According to this principle, the manager- director must design and maintain a system of free and open communication within the work-group; to ensure the development of best human relations and facilitating the attainment of common objectives.

(x) Principle of Follow-Through:

The manager – director must not only help people initiate performance; but also follow through the whole performance, pointing out to deficiencies in their performance; and modifying directing techniques – to overcome such deficiencies.

(xi) Principle of Constructive Use of Informal Groups:

The manager, during the directing stage, must not hesitate to make a constructive – but cautious – use of informal group to expedite the process of directing; by availing of the plus points of such groups.

Principles of Directing – Goal Orientation, Holistic Approach, Participatory Goal Setting, Joint Accountability, Synergising, Decisiveness, Fairness and Equity and a Few Others

Directing without leading is not an option today. Principles of direction are goal allocation, initiating action, accountability, decisiveness, and scalar chain. When it becomes leading, the principles undergo several metamor­phoses. For instance, goal allocation becomes participatory goal setting; accountability becomes joint accountability, and so on.

Let us now have a look at the following aspects:

1. Goal Orientation- Goal-oriented behaviour, and a need to achieve chal­lenging goals are intrinsic to human beings. For example, man liked to hunt wild animals for food rather than adopt a more passive way of using fruits or plants because of the intrinsic challenge of doing so. Hence, he accepted the leadership of people who could hunt better. Without challeng­ing goals, there will be no leading.

2. Holistic Approach- Leading involves looking at the whole. An example would be achieving high productivity (output) and high job satisfaction (outcome) concurrently.

3. Participatory Goal Setting- Leading implies participatory goal setting wherein the person being led is guided to set challenging goals in align­ment with the organisational goals. This results in high self-motivation to do things in the right direction.

4. Joint Accountability- Leading implies that both the superior and subordi­nates are equally accountable. Therefore, subordinates are not isolated for accountability.

5. Synergising- Leading goes beyond integration. It uses a combination of demonstrated knowledge, tacit knowledge, and capabilities to create an exponential effect. Directing uses only demonstrated knowledge of employ­ees and many of their capabilities are not brought into action. Synergy comes from the unique combination of demonstrated knowledge, tacit knowledge and capabilities, which the leading process facilitates and direc­tion process does not.

6. Decisiveness- Leaders are meant to give decisions; but decisiveness does not mean that a subordinate should be given specific orders. Through lead­ing, one can enable a person to identify the right decision s/he should take and make him/her do so, under the joint accountability principle.

7. Fairness and Equity- This is also a principle of management. It is crucial in creating dependability and mutual trust, and is vital for leading.

8. Dependability and Mutual Trust- While fairness and equity sets the stage for creating dependability and mutual trust, it is the latter that finally makes a leader give goals to the led, and allows the followers to take their own logical course towards the goal. Equally, it makes subordinates accept chal­lenging goals (often called stretch goals in organisations). It can thus be considered a core principle of leading.

9. Responsiveness- A leader responds quickly and proactively to situations and the needs of the followers. This gives confidence to the follower, enhances mutual trust, and enables the follower to keep direction effectively.

10. Example Setting- Leading means leading from the front, and therefore, setting example is a basic principle of leading.

11. Mindful Listening- It is about listening with an open mind and ‘an attitude of having a shared goal and accountability’ to resolve the issue through dis­cussion. This automatically means suspending judgment, which becomes a precondition to mindful listening.

Principles of Directing – Top 10 Principles for Making Directing More Effective and Meaningful: Harmony of Objectives, Maximum Individual Contribution and a Few Others

Effective direction is an art which a manager can learn by understanding the techniques of direction and experimenting with them.

In order to make directing more effective and meaningful, certain principles are followed:

Principle # 1. Harmony of Objectives:

Every individual is assigned a task which he is responsible to achieve it. The management should bring about coordination between individual objectives and organisational objectives. F.W. Taylor has pointed out that an effective direction depends on harmony of objectives. Henry Fayol has also stated that the employees of organisation should sacrifice their personal interest for achieving the objectives of organisation. Harmony of objectives will make the task of direction easy.

Principle # 2. Maximum Individual Contribution:

The technique of direction should be a position to inspire the employees to contribute their maximum for the achievement of the organisation objectives. It should inspires the people to contribute fully for the well-being of the organisation.

Principle # 3. Unity of Command:

As per this principle a subordinate should get all orders and instructions regarding the work from only one superior. The violation of this may lead to disorder, confusion and indiscipline which may affect the efficiency of organisation. Therefore, a subordinate should know clearly to whom he is accountable and responsible.

Principle # 4. Direct Supervision:

Every superior must maintain direct contact with his subordinates. The personal touch and face to face communication with subordinates help in performing their job and solve their difficulties. The formal touch of supervision also maintain better human relations.

Principle # 5. Motivation:

The proper direction should inspire the employees to contribute fully towards the well-being of an organisation. Both financial and non-financial incentives may be provided to the subordinates to inspire and motivate them to perform.

Principle # 6. Effective Leadership:

Effective leadership provides proper direction in order to active personal as well as organisational objectives. The manager must possess the qualities of a good leader because he should guide and counsel the workers not only on the work related problems, but also the personal problems of the subordinates. If the superior respects and listens to the views of subordinates, they become more loyal and sincere to him.

Principle # 7. 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. Due to this, the duplication and repetition of activities will be reduced and benefits of specialisation may be secured.

Principle # 8. Effective Communication:

Communication is an important instrument of direction. Two way communication is simple, easy, timely adequate and understandable language will come under meaning of effective communication. The misunderstanding can be removed through effective communication. The manager should explain the policies and practice to subordinates and results expected from them.

Principle # 9. Group Dynamites:

The managers should understand, accept and use the informal groups to supplement and support the formal organisation. They increase the effectiveness by securing the cooperation of informal leaders and groups.

Principle # 10. Comprehension:

According to this principle how much information is correctly understood by the subordinates is more important than what is said and how it is said. This principle can be observed if the management makes provision for a proper feedback system of communication. The management should provide continuous guidance, supervision, advice and help to the subordinates in their activities.

Principles of Directing – Principles Related to Purpose of Directing and Principles Related to Directing Process

Directing is one of the most complex functions of management as it deals with people whose nature itself is quite complex. Because of this reason, effective directing is really an art which can be learned and perfected through long experience. However, managers may follow some principles while directing their subordinates.

These principles can be divided into two parts:

1. Principles related to purpose of directing and

2. Principles related to directing process.

1. Principles Related to Purpose of Directing:

The basic purpose of directing is to get organizational objectives fulfilled through the integrated efforts of the people.

In this context, the following principles are important:

i. Principle of Maximum Individual Contribution:

Organizational objectives are achieved at maximum level when every individual in the organization contributes maximum towards this end. Management should adopt that directing technique which enables subordinates to contribute maximum.

ii. Principle of Harmony of Objectives:

Individuals join an organization to achieve certain objectives, that is, they want to satisfy their needs while working in the organization. At the same time, organization has its own objectives- optimization of profit in case of a business concern. Management should try to integrate both organizational and individual objectives through appropriate directing techniques.

In general, common interest must prevail over individual interests, but factors like ambition, laziness, weakness, and other factors tend to reduce the importance of common interest. The impact of these factors can be minimized through appropriate directing.

iii. Principle of Efficiency of Directing:

An effective directing tries to get work accomplished by individuals without affecting their need satisfaction adversely. To provide adequate satisfaction to individuals, it is necessary to develop relevant directing techniques – effective incentive system, appropriate leadership styles, and communication system.

2. Principles Related to Directing Process:

Directing process is related to those factors which make a particular directing technique efficient and effective.

In this context, the following principles are important:

i. Principle of Unity of Command:

According to this principle, a subordinate in the organization should get orders and instructions from one superior only and he should be responsible to that superior only. Dual command, that is, getting orders from more than one superior, creates conflict, confusion, disorder, and instability in the organization. In directing, this principle should be followed.

ii. Principle of Appropriateness of Directing Technique:

There are three directing techniques — authoritarian, consultative, and free-rein. Each technique has its own relative strength. Moreover, each technique can be used in different cases depending on the nature of superior and subordinates and the situational variables. In order to make directing effective, that directing technique should be used which is the most appropriate for the given situation.

iii. Principle of Managerial Communication:

In the organization, the success depends on effective communication between superior and his subordinates. A superior passes orders, ideas about work, etc. to his subordinates through downward communication and he knows how his subordinates are working through upward communication from his subordinates. Thus, there should be effective communication system to ensure communication flow in both these directions.

iv. Principle of Comprehension:

This principle states that subordinates should know about what they have to do, how to do, and when to do comprehensively. This is done through directing. Proper understanding of what has been conveyed by the superior is important for subordinates as proper understanding enables them to get clear situation and avoid unnecessary queries and explanations from superior.

v. Principle of Use of Informal Organization:

Formal organization structure prescribes the official relationships among individuals. Besides, people working together develop certain relationships known as informal organization. Through informal organization, information travels very quickly, though sometimes the information may be wrong. Management should try to understand, spot, and make use of such informal organization for making directing more effective.

vi. Principle of Leadership:

Leadership is the process of influencing individuals to work enthusiastically to achieve organizational objectives. When subordinates work enthusiastically, their efficiency and effectiveness go up and organizational objectives are achieved. The subordinates may be influenced through the exercise of authority. However, this course of action has a serious limitation of affecting the morale of subordinates adversely. Thus, managers need to become effective leaders so that they can influence the activities of their subordinates without dissatisfying them.

vii. Principle of Follow through:

Directing is a continuous managerial process. Mere giving an order is not sufficient but management should find out whether the subordinates are working accordingly, what difficulties they are facing, and in the light of these, the order can be modified or replaced, if need be.