What are the 14 principles of management?

Henri Fayol was an engineer from France, who lived between 1841 and 1925 (though born in Istanbul, he was a French citizen throughout his adult life). Fayol quickly gained experience at managing people – especially teams of people who were working together to complete a particular project.

Fayol is famous for developing what are called the 14 principles of management. As their name suggests, these are 14 key principles that any manager ought to adhere to if they want to make a success of their work. Because of this, Fayol is credited as being one of the founders of the modern idea of management theory and practice.

Meaning of management: The word management comes from the Italian word for controlling a horse. In the present day, however, it means something different – though traces of the original idea of controlling something in a measured way are still present in the modern meaning of ‘management’. Nowadays, management means organising and guiding a group of people, and the resources that are used by that group, in order to achieve a given project. Most often, the context in which this is done is the workplace: management is almost always linked to employees managing teams of other employees in order to complete a task as part of their jobs. However, we can also speak more individually of managing our time, and of managing our finances.

The 14 Principles of Management.

A principle is a key axiom. The word principle comes from the Latin for ‘first’. A principle, then, is something that we ought to consider first and foremost before embarking on a project. It follows that Fayol’s 14 principles of management are the 14 things that he advises managers to consider first and foremost before they start managing a team or a project. But what are these 14 principles? Read on to find out about them.

Let’s take each of the 14 principles one by one.

1. Division of Work – divide work up.

Fayol argued that it is best to divide up a project into a set of smaller sub tasks. That way, people who are best suited to a certain task can work on that task and get it done to the very best of their abilities. Dividing work up in this way makes teams more efficient, and also optimises the overall outcome. This principle was also adopted by Henry Ford in his car factories. Ford found that if he gave everyone one small job (for example, screwing in a nut on a wheel), then a car would get made much more quickly as all of those jobs would add up into one big job.

2. Authority and Responsibility – managerial authority.

A manager should be seen as a figure of authority over the people that they are managing – how else can they expect their guidance to be listened to and followed by the team? Fayol also emphasized that managers should always remember that with any kind of authority there also comes the responsibility to act in a fair and transparent way. Authority should not be abused for the manager’s own selfish aims – it should only be used for the good of the project and the team as a whole.

3. Discipline – staying disciplined.

For Fayol, maintaining discipline is essential to good management practice. Teams should work in an orderly and self disciplined fashion and not waste time or money. Keeping to a tight schedule is just one example of discipline that is essential to teamwork.

4. Unity of Command – A single authority.

Though there may be several managers in a given organization, Fayol argued that every team ought to be managed just by one person. He called this ‘unity of command’. This principle ensures that teams do not feel confused about whom they ought to report to and what they should be doing. It also reduces the risk that there will be conflicts between managers: if there are several authority figures in an organization, they may well each have different ideas about how to do things.

5. Unity of Direction – a single plan.

This principle is designed to make the aims of a given project ultra clear. Everyone ought to be working according to a single plan, which has been clearly explained to everyone. The plan should not be changed half way through, either: it should be carefully formulated right at the start and then stuck to be everyone. More often than not, it is the manager who is responsible for making the plan.

6. Subordination of Individual Interest – the group interest is key.

For Fayol, the interests of the group as a whole ought to trump the interests of any single individual in the group. After all, management is all about working as part of a team.

7. Remuneration – fair pay.

Fayol emphasized that all employees ought to be paid fairly for the work that they carry out. They should not have to do, for example, unpaid overtime hours, or be asked to do more work than their employers have paid them fairly for. Nowadays, many employees and freelance workers are still struggling for fair pay, and so Fayol’s principle is more important than ever.

8. Centralization – defining a center.

Fayol envisaged the decision making process in any organization as its center. Some employees will be closer to this center (i.e. more instrumental and influential in the decision making process) than others. Fayol states that a good manager will achieve an appropriate balance in this matter, and will place the correct personnel at the correct ‘distances’ from the center.

9. Scalar Chain – a chain of command.

An organization ought to involve a hierarchical chain of command and (importantly), every employee ought to be aware where they stand within that chain of command. A manager will be close to the top of the chain of command, though they may not be right at the top. It is common for a manager to have their own boss that they need to report back to about the project in hand.

10. Order – orderliness.

As well as being disciplined in their actions, and encouraging such discipline in others, managers ought to be neat and tidy with respect to their physical surroundings and encourage others to follow their example. Equipment, documents and work spaces should be kept in an orderly fashion. We might also think of staying quiet and being respectful in the workplace as key examples of orderly behavior.

11. Equity – fairness.

Managers should always treat their staff in a fair and just way, without being biased by anything (including their own personal interests). As well as paying people fairly, this also means listening fairly to any complaints and disputes that employees may have and arbitrating justly over them.

12. Stability of tenure – stable jobs.

Employers ought to give their staff stable jobs which last for a long time, rather than having a high turnover of staff. A career where one is dependent from day to day on finding new work and worrying about losing one’s job can be very stressful and bad for one’s mental health.

13. Initiative – independence.

Employees should be given space to take their own initiative and be a little creative with their work, too. After all, this is often how the greatest discoveries are made. However, this independence ought not to conflict with the overall aims of the task in hand: it should be a help, not a hindrance to this task.

14. Esprit de Corps – team spirit.

Finally, managers should do all that they can to promote a sense of solidarity and team spirit amongst their staff so that everyone feels a sense of unity as they work together.


Many, if not all, of Fayol’s principles of management still hold true today. Fayol’s ideas are still employed by management theorists throughout the world, and they have been developed and adapted to suit modern contexts. One key adaptation that has been made, for example, has been to take into account the advent of the internet, which has truly transformed workplaces around the world.

Are you a manager, or do you ever need to manage people and resources in your work place? If so, you may already be using several of Fayol’s 14 Principles without even thinking about it! Now that you have read his 14 principles of management, are there any new principles from the list that you would like to incorporate into your working life? Could you pay your employees more fairly, for example, or could you make the workplace more orderly? Why not try and start using them the next time that you go to work and see what difference they make!

Wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Fayol

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