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29 Management Basics

Management is the practice of directing teams and controlling processes and resources. The following are foundational basics of management that may serve as a useful guide.


Managers are typically granted authority based on elements such as their level in a hierarchy, job title, job description and their mandate from upper management.


Managers delegate action items to their team. You can also delegate authority or you can require that decisions requiring authority be approved by you.


Responsibility is the duty to do work. This can be delegated by a manager.


Accountability is the duty to answer for success and failure. This can't be delegated. When you ask your team to do work on your behalf, you remain accountable.

Team Meetings

Managers typically hold regular team meetings that serve to orchestrate team efforts. This is tracked with a team status report that lists open projects, action items and issues.

Direct Reports

Direct reports are employees that you manage such that you are accountable for their performance and productivity.

Matrix Management

In many cases, your direct reports may be assigned to other managers and projects beyond the scope of your authority. This is known as matrix management. In this case, you still manage the employee using feedback from their stakeholders.

Goal Setting

The primary way that you assign work to employees is to agree to a set of performance goals. These are often designed to be SMART meaning that they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

Performance Management

Performance management is the process of evaluating employee's against their performance goals. This is the basis for incentives and promotions. Low performers enter a performance improvement process.

Employee Feedback

Employees are provided with regular feedback, particularly regarding performance problems whereby a poor performance review should never be a surprise.

Stakeholder Management

The job of a manager is to deliver value to the stakeholders of their team. Stakeholders can include upper management, business units, customers, employees, investors, partners and regulators. Stakeholder relationships and communication is a primary management responsibility.

Change Control

Change control is the process of accepting requests for work from stakeholders and prioritizing this work.

Commitment Management

The primary way that managers fail is by overcommitting to work or taking on work that is low value or doomed to failure. Commitment management is the process of pushing back against excessive or low priority work while pursuing high value work at a sustainable pace.

Managing Expectations

Managing expectations is the process of clearly communicating to stakeholders what you will and will not deliver such that your commitments are unambiguously documented and understood.

Expectation Setting

Expectation setting is the practice of making work assignments clear including requirements, deadlines and expectations for work quality.

Issue Clearing

As manager, you will help your team to clear issues related to their action items, projects and goals.

Incident Management

Incident management is the initial process of managing operational problems whereby you seek an urgent fix that may not be permanent.

Problem Management

Problem management is the process of addressing the root cause of incidents whereby you find a permanent fix.

Internal Controls

Internal controls are systems, processes, procedures, rules and checklists that help to standardize work.


Toil is work that is repetitive and low value. Managers typically try to automate or outsource toil to improve team productivity.


Productivity is the amount of value produced in an hour, week or month of work. Managers work to measure and improve productivity as this is the basis for all value created by your team.


Efficiency is how much value you get for a unit of a resource. Managers try to use resources efficiently by eliminating waste.

Cost Control

Managers may seek cost reductions. If a team is growing, cost increases are diligently controlled.

Due Diligence

Due diligence is the care that can be reasonably expected in a situation. For example, the duty to carefully interview and investigate candidates before hiring them.

Management Analysis

Management analysis is the process of developing data, information and knowledge that is relevant to your goals. For example, a gap analysis that identifies shortfalls in a business process.

Business Process Improvement

The practice of measuring and improving business processes.

Management Accounting

Management accounting, not to be confused with financial accounting, is the process of measuring an organization. For example, measuring the turnaround time of a process.

Team Culture

Team culture are the intangible elements of a team such as habits, politics and employee satisfaction. These are beyond the direct control of management but can be shaped with a process of leadership. For example, setting the expectation that team members treat each other and stakeholders with respect.

Relational Capital

Relational capital is the value of your relationships. Managers build relationships, influence and establish political capital. This is required to fight for your team in a competitive environment.
A more extensive and complete management guide can be found here.

Management Guide

This is the complete list of articles we have written about management guide.
Action Items
Change Control
Cost Reduction
Due Diligence
First Principles
Gap Analysis
Management Guide
Root Cause
Status Report
Team Culture
Work Quality
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Management First Principles

A list of common management first principles.


A guide to management techniques.

Management Process

An overview of common management processes.

Management Analysis

An overview of the common types of management analysis.

Company Departments

A list of common company departments.

Internal Issues

The definition of internal issues with examples.

Employee Productivity

How to measure employee productivity with examples.

Routine Work

Examples of routine and non-routine work.

Project Management

A guide to project management.

Work Plan

A definition of work plan with examples.

Program Management Process

An overview of the program management process.

Project Management Process

An overview of the project management process.

Meeting Agenda

Full examples of meeting agendas that can be used as a template.

Management Competencies

An list of management competencies.

Project Management Examples

An overview of project management with examples.


The definition of project with examples.
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