Problems in the Control Process

Magnitude of change. Control system is mostly to cope with changes of certain magnitude. Certain decisions are made regarding which of the variables in the system can change, how much they will change, and what actions can be

Features of Good Control System

Fig.10.3 Features of Good Control System

taken to correct changes. The system is designed around these variables. For example, management recognises that not all employees will show up each day on a production line and that production problems will occur because of equipment or material problems.

Therefore, it provides for alternative labour sources and for maintenance men or production engineers who can be called when technical problems occur. These corrective actions are programmed into the foreman's decision rues. But these corrective actions can work only when the assumptions are met, e.g., when only one or two employees do not show up or only one machine at a time breaks down. If 90 per cent of the workers go home after lunch because they had food poisoning after eating in the cafeteria, there is very little the foreman can do to correct the change. The variables have gone outside the range that the control system was designed to handle.

Time rate of change: Time lags in feedback can cause severe problems. Such time lags tend to slow down the adaptive process, that increase the length of time it takes for the control system to respond.

It is easy to see how lags can develop in a control system. Organisational control systems, particularly at higher levels in the organisation, often depend on written reports for their sensed information and on written memos or directives as the corrective feedback. But it obviously takes time to write and transmit such information. If the activity is changing rapidly, the problem will be entirely different by the time the corrective feedback reaches the activity.

Communication problems: Problems in communication can affect the functioning for a control system, since it is dependent on information for its operation. This information must be transmitted through a variety of communication channels ranging from face-to-face verbal communication to formal, written letters. Semantic and transmission barriers can distort the information being communicated.

Erroneous standards: Perhaps the most critical problem in a control system is that of some inadvertent mistakes committed in setting standards for comparison. Where mistakes in standards exist, it is obviously more difficult to discriminate between proper and improper output of the activity. The decisionmaker is not certain whether the deviation message being received is the result of the activity being out of control or the standards being improperly set.

Workers' resistance: Human behaviour is complicated, and it is not easy to impose controls without leading to conflicts. Employees regard any control system as a tool to exert pressure on them. Thus a control system must first be "sold" before it is introduced.

Each of the three steps of the control system is fought with opposition and conflict. While establishing standards, people generally do not agree on the targets of production, sales and raw material consumption and cost standards.

The conflicts which originate during the first step come into sharp focus when the actual performance is being compared with the planned targets. People complain that the targets are unreal and non-feasible, control people lack objectivity, and the time span of appraisal is too short to enable a fair assessment or evaluation. People also resent the authority of the control department to sit in judgment and ask for explanations. In the final step when the corrective action is being taken, disagreement arises primarily over the location of the decision level regarding remedial action.

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