Everything you need to know about the techniques of directing. Direction represents one of the essential functions of management because it deals with human relations.

Direction is also, infrequently and by some, labeled as ‘actuating’. Once the organizational plans have been laid down, the structure being designed, and competent people brought in to fill various positions in organization, direction starts.

Direction is the managerial function of guiding, motivating, leading, and supervising the subordinates to accomplish desired objectives.

Acquiring physical and human assets and suitably placing them will not suffice; what is more important is that people must be directed toward organizational goals. Without proper direction and supervision employees become inactive, dull and inefficient and consequently the physical assets like machinery and plant will be put to ineffective use.


Some of the techniques of directing are:-

1. Consultative Direction 2. Free-Rein Direction 3. Autocratic Direction 4. Supervision 5. Motivation 6. Leadership 7. Communication

8. Delegation 9. Orders 10. Orientation 11. Follow-Up Orders and Instructions 12. Standardized Practices and Procedures 13. Behavioural Pattern.

Top 13 Techniques of Directing: Consultative Direction, Free-Rein Direction, Autocratic Direction, Supervision and a Few Others

Techniques of Directing – Consultative Direction, Free-Rein Direction, Autocratic Direction, Supervision, Motivation, Leadership, Communication, Delegation and a Few Others

1. Consultative Direction:

Under this technique, superior, though vested with powers to take decision independently, does not take decision without consulting with his subordinates. The superior wins the cooperation of all the subordinates by taking their inputs into his decisions. Thus subordinates feel committed and motivated to carry out such decisions made out of their viewpoints.

2. Free-Rein Direction:


Under this technique, subordinates are empowered to take decisions independently. The superior limits himself to issuing guidelines. The execution of the entire task is left to subordinates. The subordinates are held accountable for the results. This type of direction can be practiced only when subordinates are highly educated, experienced, capable and competent. It is self-direction by subordinates.

3. Autocratic Direction:

Superior commands the subordinates to accomplish a set of goals. He does not take into his decision-making the views, opinions and suggestions of subordinates. The superior gives a clear direction and precise orders to his subordinates.

4. Supervision:

Supervision is the process of overseeing the subordinates at work. Supervisor gives a precise, detailed and clear cut instruction to subordinates. The quality of supervision depends on the strength of the subordinates working under him. The lesser the strength of subordinates, the more effective is supervision arid vice versa.

Supervision is undertaken across the levels of management. Besides, supervisor should possess certain qualities to exercise effective supervision. Similarly, there are certain factors like skill, leadership, position, group cohesiveness, cordiality or relations, etc., that enable the supervisor to exercise effective supervision.

5. Motivation:


Merely issuing orders and instructions may not help to accomplish any task effectively. Motivation is the process of stimulating such forces like desires, wishes and wants that impel human beings to achieve the desired action. Motivation may be monetary and non-monetary. The impact of non-monetary motivation is supposed to last longer than monetary motivation.

Motivation is also classified into positive and negative motivation. While positive motivation is to be reinforced, the negative motivation should be applied as a last resort. The type of motivation varies according to nature of industry. Without motivation, the energy, efficiency and morale of the employees cannot be sustained.

6. Leadership:

Leadership is defined to be the ability of a manager to influence his subordinates to accomplish the goals. A leader is supposed to possess certain qualities to exercise effective leadership. A leader does many functions like formulation of objectives, representing the undertaking, initiating action, influencing followers, etc.

There are different styles of leadership practised by leaders. Of course all the types yield effect. But the type of leadership style to be adopted depends on the nature of subordinates and the context. Besides, leadership should have intelligence, good communication skill, initiative, flexibilities, etc.

7. Communication:

Communication enables a group to think together, see together and act together. It becomes indispensable for passing on decisions to those engaged in executing them. Where communication is not understandable to the receiver, direction becomes ineffectual. Face to face communication and feedback system is essential for smooth operation of business. There are certain principles like clarity, preciseness, concreteness etc., to be followed for effective communication.

The flow of communication is in all directions in any organization. They are vertical, horizontal, lateral and diagonal flow of communication. There may arise certain barriers to the flow of communication. Organizations have to take effort to de-clog the blockage in the communication process so as to ease the flow of communication. Besides channels of communication, verbal, written and gestural communications are used to convey the information to those intended. Without communication, nothing can be achieved in the organization.

8. Delegation:

Delegation is the process of entrusting a part of work to be done by a superior to his subordinate. Without delegation, an organization cannot grow even an inch. In the absence of delegation, superior is overloaded with excessive work. Besides, specialization concept warrants delegation. It helps the executive to utilize their productive time optimally. The subordinate to whom the authority is delegated is responsible to the delegator. In the same vein, the delegator is ultimately responsible for the work executed by the delegatee.

9. Orders:

Orders are directives issued by superiors to subordinates directing the latter to act in a certain manner.

The order should be:


i. Reasonable and enforceable over subordinates.

ii. Clearly defined and understandable.

iii. Complete in all respects.

iv. Win acceptance and cooperation of subordinates.


v. Preferably in written form.

vi. Appropriately toned.

vii. Time line prescribed.

Orders may be oral, written, generic, specific, procedural or operational.

10. Orientation:


a. Orientation of New Employees:

All new hires should be given orientation about their rights, duties, responsibilities, superior-subordinate, relationship, profile of the organization, organization structure, performance evaluation, career opportunities, fundamental rules put in place in the organization, etc.

b. Continuing Orientation:

Wherever goals are revised, new technique is absorbed; new machinery is put in place, and newer development unfolds in a particular area of specialization; existing employees are to be enlightened thereabout through training, bulletins, news wheels, staff meetings, updates, committee meetings, conferences, etc.

Techniques of Directing – 3 Techniques of Directing Followed by the Management

There are three techniques of direction followed by the management.

They are briefly explained below:


1. Consultative Direction:

The supervisor or superior has consultation with his sub­ordinates before issuing a direction. The consultation is made to find out the feasibility, enforceability and nature of problem. It does not mean that the superior is not capable of acting independently. Ultimately, the superior has the right to take any decision and give the directions.

The co-operation of subordinates is necessary for successful implementation of any direction. Better motivation is available to the subordinates under this direction technique. The supervisor could instill high morale into the subordinates.

2. Free-Rein Direction:

The subordinate is encouraged to solve the problem independently under this direction technique. The superior assigns the task generally. The subordinates should take initiative to solve the problem. Only highly educated, efficient and sincere sub-ordinates are required to apply these direction techniques.

3. Autocratic Direction:


This direction is just opposite to free-rein direction technique. Here, the supervisor commands his subordinates and has close supervision. The supervisor gives clear and precise orders to his sub-ordinates and act accordingly. There is no way left to the sub-ordinates to show their initiatives.

Techniques of Directing

Effective direction can be achieved by adopting one or more of the following techniques. The manager can utilise them according to the need of the situation.

There are basically three broad techniques of direction namely:

1. Consultative or participative,

2. Free rein and

3. Autocratic.

1. Consultative or Participative Technique:


The essential feature of this technique is that the executive should consult his subordinates regarding the feasibility, workability and the extent and content of a problem before taking a decision and issue a directive. Under this techniques manager can get best suggestions, ideas, opinions, from the subordinates. As well as he gets the knowledge of reactions of the subordinates in order to extract new ideas and help from them.

But then the manger must have sincere desire of securing suggestions from his subordinates. Many times a manager with no desire may simply pretend tube consultative. But this attitude is dangerous and may cause conflicts leading to non-accomplishment of task. Under this technique there is actually no danger to managers’ authority and powers, because ultimately decision is to be taken by him only. Right to take decisions ultimately lies in his own hands.

The quantum of subordinates’ participation depends upon a number of factors such as the attitude, interest, liking, past experience of the subordinates, the nature and type of the problem, availability of time for loving the problem and so on. If the subordinates trust the managers, and believe that “the boss knows the best” regarding making decisions and giving directives, there is no need for consultative direction.

But if the subordinates feel the superior to be incompetent, the boss should provide ample opportunity for consultation with the subordinates. It is always better if the subordinates are informed and supplied with necessary materials well in advance so as to enable them to think over it and give concrete suggestions. If managers or executives adopt this technique of direction they would be successful in securing greater co-operation, enthusiasm, motivation and higher morale of the subordinates.

This ultimately would result in formation of better plans and better decisions because of pooling of experience, better communication, closer contacts and training, growth and experiences of the subordinates. All these merits can be enjoyed by the manager by extensive and careful application of consultative techniques.

The technique suffers from the following shortcomings also:


i. If the subordinates form an opinion that the manager is incompetent and incapable of taking decisions, they may undermine his authority and prestige.

ii. Sometimes the discussion may lead to confusion and the subordinates may not have any clear-cut directives from managers.

iii. Sometimes the subordinates think consultation to be their right. Under this situation, if a manager takes some decision, even on important occasions, without consulting the subordinates, it may lead to disputes, frustration, confusion, misunderstanding etc. among the subordinates.

iv. If this technique is not used properly, it may lead to unnecessary discussions, unhealthy and out-of the way criticism of the boss and even to insubordination.

2. Free Rein Direction Techniques:

Under the free reign technique, the superiors motivate the subordinates to contribute their ideas, thoughts etc. for solving a problem. This technique is widely accepted by many managements. It shows the best and quick results, if the subordinates are highly educated. The free rein technique encourages and enables the subordinates to contribute their own initiative, independent thought, drive and ingenuity to the solution of the problem. This does not mean that this technique gives full freedom to the subordinates.

The superior who adopts free rein technique must be sure that the subordinates know the overall objectives, their duties, responsibilities, and policies, plans of the organisation and their role as well as jurisdiction. Then only he should assign the work to his subordinate and allow him to decide, the manner in which he has to proceed. But the superior must ensure that the subordinates are trust worthy, willing and capable of assuming responsibility.

This technique would be followed by the superior when the sub-ordinates possess high intelligence, strong drive, high sense of responsibility etc. This type of directing gives pride to the capable men in their work. It develops their self-confidence, motivates them to give independent thought. It develops their managerial ability and experience. In this type of direction technique there may be chances of difference in the point of view of the manager and the subordinate.

Then the manager has to take risk of such mistakes and continue to provide opportunity to the subordinates to learn by their mistakes. The superior should not criticise and should not discourage the subordinates. This technique requires a great amount of patience and forbearance on the part of managers.

3. Autocratic Direction Techniques:

This technique is just the opposite of the free rein direction technique. Under this technique, the superior gives direct, clear and precise orders to his subordinates with detailed instructions as to how and what is to be done, The role of subordinates with detailed instructions as to how and what is to be done. The role of sub-ordinates is simple to implement. This technique is used in military organisation.

Such superiors believe in minimum delegation of authority to sub-ordinates are expected to follow the instructions only. The manager has to perform both the functions namely planning and taking decisions. The manager strongly believes that, without detailed instructions from him, his subordinates would not properly carry out directives. Under his type of direction technique the subordinates depend totally upon their superiors. They do not think, and do not have any interest, and motivation in taking decisions.

They stop thinking and taking initiative. They become “Yes Men” and obedient employees. Such subordinates become frustrated. They lack in self-confidence. They are less motivated and less inspired. Naturally, they hardly acquire managerial ability. This technique obstructs subordinates from becoming future executives.

Merits of this techniques are that managers can take quick decisions, quick implementation of such decision, quick problem solving. This also helps in maintaining peace and discipline. Employees are more obedient and can be effectively utilized.

Techniques of Directing – Used by Managers 

In order to direct the sub-ordinates effectively, managers use several techniques. Some of these techniques are delegation, supervision, orders and instructions.

i. Delegation as a Means of Directing:

Delegation of authority implies that a superior entrusts his sub-ordinates with certain rights or powers. He assigns a part of his work to the sub-ordinate and authorizes him to do the work. Delegation is a useful technique of directing. It is a means of sharing authority with a sub­ordinate and providing him an opportunity to learn.

Use of delegation as a means of direction may, however, give rise to following problems:

1. It may not be possible to spell out the tasks and duties of every sub-ordinate. The sub-ordinate managers have, therefore, to learn to live with overlapping of jobs and uncertainties in job descriptions.

2. The extent of delegated authority may not be exactly clear ad some vagueness in this regard may be unavoidable.

3. The detail in which authority granted to a sub-ordinate is spelt out may differ with the nature of the work assignment. When work assignments are detailed, authority has to be detailed.

4. A manager has normally to accept some acts of the sub-ordinate in excess of the delegated authority as a part of the sub-ordinates implied authority.

5. If the authority delegation is too rigid it may stifle initiative and creativity on the part of the sub-ordinates.

6. Indiscriminate delegation may create imbalances in organization because different individuals do not have identical capacity and maturity.

ii. Supervision:

It is an important part of direction function of every manager. Supervision means overseeing the sub-ordinates at work. It means observing the sub­ordinates at work to see complete execution of plans and policies of the organization. Thus, supervision implies that every manager is in direct contact with his sub-ordinate and watches their work performance.

A supervisor is a person who is having a responsibility observing a group of work in the organization. He has to see how the workers are going to achieve the goal. He is the actual executor of plans and policies. He gives orders and instructions to the workers.

iii. Orders and Instructions:

Orders and instructions are the fundamental tools employed by managers in directing their sub-ordinates. An order initiates, modifies or stops an activity. These instructions and order are essential to direct sub-ordinates to work efficiently and effectively.

According to Knootz and O’Donnell, “As a directional technique, an instruction is understood to be a charge (command) by a supervisor requiring a sub-ordinate to act or retrain from acting in a given circumstance”.

Thus, the above definition reveals that an instruction or order is always issued by supervisor. It also implies that the order is enforceable on a sub-ordinate because the superior has necessary authority for this purpose. It also reveals that the order may require a sub-ordinate to do a particular activity or to abstain from it.

Essentials of a Good Order/Instructions:

A good order must possess the following characteristics:

1. The order should be clear and easily understandable.

2. Orders should be issued through the chain of command.

3. The tone of the order should be appropriate so that it stimulate ready acceptance rather than resistance from sub-ordinates.

4. After issuing an order, a manager should take follow-up measures to check whether the order is being carried out in a satisfactory manner or not.

5. While issuing an order, the manager should, if necessary, explain why it is being given.

6. An order should preferably be in writing.

7. An order should be reasonable and enforceable.

8. An order should specify the time period within which it should be carried out or completed.

9. An order should be complete.

10. The order should be compatible with the objectives and policies of the organization.

Techniques of Order:

The following are some important considerations which should be given due importance as techniques of issuing orders:

1. The manager before issuing orders should decide whether it will be general or specific. Whether an order should be specific or general depends upon the performance of superior, his ability to forces the circumstances and the response made by the sub­ordinate.

2. The order may be written or oral also. Written order is comparatively more intelligible, accurate and well considered. The sub-ordinate also gets ample opportunity to study the written order carefully. It fixes the responsibility and accountability also.

3. The orders as far as possible should be normal, courteous and informal also. The manager is accustomed to command by informally suggesting, “Let us do this”. Informally creates confidence in sub-ordinates and brings their cooperation. It motives them in the best of their capabilities.

4. The orders should be timely and accordingly to circumstances.

5. A manager should follow up the instructions very carefully to see whether or not the order has been carried out.

Techniques of Directing

Generally three types of techniques of direction are used by managers which are as follows:

(i) Consultative Direction:

The manager takes a decision and issues a direction only after consulting his subordinates regarding the feasibility and workability of the problem. The cooperation and enthusiasm can be secured in carrying out this type of direction by superior but at the same time it may suffer from one disadvantage, i.e., the subordinate may consider it his right to be consulted before the executive takes a decision.

(ii) Free rein Direction:

The subordinate is encouraged and enabled to show his own initiative and give independent thought to the solution of problem. This technique of direction may profitability be used if the subordinate is highly educated, efficient and sincere.

(iii) Autocratic Direction:

The subordinates are not allowed to take any initiative in solving the problem. The manager himself solve the problem and gives orders to his subordinates with instructions as to how and what is to be done by them.


Supervision is very important and essential part of the process of direction of every manager. The word supervision consists of two word, i.e., ‘super’ and ‘vision’ super stands for over and above and vision means viewing mental images. Supervision implies overseeing employees at work. It involves direct personal contact with subordinates. The person who supervises the operations is known as – ‘supervisor’. He serves as the link between management and workers. The supervisor sometimes also called front line manager.

Supervision = Super + vision [overseeing the subordinates at work with authority.]

According to G.R. Terry, Supervision is the achieving of desired results by means of the intelligent utilisation of human talents and facilitating resources in a manager that provides the greatest challenge and interest to human talents. In fact, managers at all levels supervise the performance of their subordinates. This definition suggested that –

(i) Overseeing employees at work.

(ii) Intelligent utilisation of human talents.

(iii) Create interest in human talents.

A Supervisor acts as the mouth piece of management to interpret policies and plans to workers and at the same times he also transmits the feelings and suggestions of workers to higher level managers. He is the bey person in management occupies a unique position in the chain of command. Indifferent organisations, supervisors are known by different designations such as foreman, charge man, overseers, section officer and superintendent, etc. He is primarily in charge of a group of workers in the organisation.

In the nutshell, supervision is direction, guidance, and control of working force with a view to see that they are working according to plan and time schedule. The supervisor has to concentrate more on direction function as compared to other managerial levels. He gives orders and instructions to the workers and is responsible to the departmental head for the performance of the workers.

According to Vitiates, “Supervision refers to the direct and immediate guidance and control of subordinates in the performance of their task.”

It consists of three main functions of management:

i. To see subordinates are working according to plans, policies, programs, schedule and instructions,

ii. To guide them at work so that they accomplish their assigned task, and

iii. To give them directions to get the work done properly if necessary.

Techniques of Directing – Giving Orders and Instructions, Follow-Up Orders and Instructions, Standardized Practices and Procedures and Behavioural Pattern

In performing directing function, managers use different techniques-

1. Giving orders and instructions,

2. Follow-up orders and instructions,

3. Standardized practices and procedures, and

4. Behavioural pattern.

Technique # 1. Giving Orders and Instructions:

A superior directs his subordinates by giving orders and instructions to them about what work they should do; how they should do; and when they should do.

In order to make giving orders effective, the superior should take into consideration the following factors:

i. General or Specific:

Whether an order should be general or specific depends on the style of the superior and type of his subordinates. The superiors who have a rigid view of authority delegation and want to have close supervision of subordinates prefer giving specific orders. Subordinates who prefer close supervision can do better with specific orders. On the other hand, superiors who believe in consultative directing prefer giving general orders. Subordinates who prefer initiative and less rigid supervision do well with general orders.

ii. Written or Oral:

In issuing an order, it should be decided whether it will be in writing or oral form. The factors like permanency of relationship between superior and subordinate, degree of trust and confidence between them, avoiding overlapping of orders, and acquainting all personnel concerned with the fact that an order has been issued are important factors in this context.

The written order has the quality of being complete and clear and may be preserved for future reference, provides the receiver time to understand and do accordingly, and fixes exact responsibility.

On the other hand, written order is expensive and time- consuming. Moreover, it is not at all suitable in certain circumstances such as routine work. Oral order is suitable where superior-subordinate relationship is comparatively permanent and is based on mutual trust, order is of routine type in day-to-day administration, and does not require any permanent record.

iii. Formal and Informal:

In formal superior-subordinate relationship, orders tend to be formal. However, these can be made informal and consequently more acceptable by paraphrasing these suitably. An order issued in formal and command way is likely to invite more resistance from subordinates and may have adverse impact on their morale and motivation. Since individual’s response differs for a formal order, there should be proper selection of degree of formality in issuing an order.

iv. Timing:

Timing of giving orders depends on how decisions are arrived at and who will execute these decisions. The decisions which are made after considerable consideration and participation by subordinates require very little clarification, and timing of implementing decisions is often implied.

Similarly, the organizational actions which are taken on the basis of opportunism and immediacy have simultaneous execution. Thus, there is no or very little gap between making a decision and issue of order for implementing the decision. On the other hand, the decisions made after considerable planning process follow definite timing for their execution. In this case, order is issued much after making the decision.

Technique # 2. Follow-up Orders and Instructions:

Once orders and instructions are issued, it is not necessary that these are carried out instantly or fully to the satisfaction of the superior. There may be three types of problems. First, subordinates might not have understood the orders and instructions fully and clearly. Second, they may not have adequate organizational resources to carry out orders and instructions.

Third, there may be contradictory orders and instructions creating confusion and conflict among subordinates. In order to overcome these problems, the superior has to monitor whether the subordinates have carried out orders and instructions properly. If not, he tries to find out the reasons for that and removes the anomalies or obstructions.

If need be, he may withdraw some of the orders and instructions which do not conform to organizational practices or which are contradictory, or he may provide further explanation to his subordinates.

Technique # 3. Standardized Practices and Procedures:

Besides giving specific orders and instructions, a superior may rely on various standardized organizational practices and procedures for getting things done. This happens more in the case of routine work which is performed under set procedures and fresh instructions are required whenever there is any change in that. In fact, many organizations establish certain practices and procedures for work performance which work as guidelines for people in the organization.

Technique # 4. Behavioural Pattern:

Besides orders and instructions and organizational practices and procedures, a superior provides direction to his subordinates by adopting a particular behavioural pattern.

He may adopt one of the three behavioural patterns:

i. Autocratic,

ii. Participative, and

iii. Free-rein.

In each pattern, the type of orders and instructions given is different.

i. Autocratic Pattern:

In autocratic pattern, the superior gives orders and instructions in detail as he does not involve his subordinates in decision-making process. Therefore, there is a gap between decision maker and decision implementer. In order to make a decision fully understandable, the superior is required to provide detailed instructions.

ii. Participative Pattern:

In participative pattern (also known as consultative pattern), decision making is a joint process between the superior and his subordinates. Therefore, they understand the decision and how it can be implemented. In such a case, detailed orders and instructions are not required.

iii. Free-Rein Pattern:

In free-rein pattern, which is just opposite of autocratic pattern, subordinates are given authority to make decisions within the broad guidelines provided by the superior. In this case, the superior does not give orders and instructions for doing specific work except the broad guidelines for arriving at decisions. What behavioural pattern a superior should adopt depends on the understanding of human factor involved in directing.