What is Coordination? Definition, Need, Importance, Types, Techniques

  • Post last modified:12 May 2022
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What is Coordination?

Coordination is the synchronisation of individual and group efforts providing unity of action for the realisation of common goals. It is the orderly integration of unified actions of the different units of an organisation ensuring quality work, timing and a systematic set of actions for achieving the planned objectives with fewer conflicts.

The managerial functions of planning, organising, staffing, directing and controlling require effective coordination in their performance and outcome. Coordination ensures the unity of action, which is needed in every aspect of administration and management of people and working of the organisation.


Coordination Definition

According to Theo Haimann, coordination is the orderly synchronizing of efforts of the subordinates to provide the proper amount, timing and quality of execution so that their united efforts lead to the stated objectives, namely the common purpose of the enterprise.

According to Brech, Coordination is balancing and keeping together the team by ensuring suitable allocation of tasks to the various members and seeing that the tasks are performed with harmony among the members themselves.

Coordinating effectively is a skill that requires regular planning and progress and the managers must have the required authority to promote interpersonal relationships through proper coordination.

Coordination helps with the integration of various tasks and responsibilities of the employees of one unit with those of the other units within the same organisation. The essential features of coordination are:

  • It is necessary for group efforts and not for individual efforts.
  • It is a dynamic and continuous process.
  • It emphasises the unity of efforts.
  • It helps with the integration of functions.
  • It is the responsibility of the manager or the supervisor.

Coordination establishes the channel of communication between the people in different units and departments executing the tasks and activities of the enterprise. It refers to coordinating a variety of tasks and responsibilities of the entire workforce with each other and with the other units within the same organisation. It also involves connecting the organisation with the broader community externally (external stakeholders) like the suppliers, vendors, customers and many other external sources.

According to McFarland, Coordination is the process whereby an executive develops an orderly pattern of group efforts among his subordinates and secures the unity of action in the pursuit of common purpose.


Need and Importance of Coordination

The need and importance of coordination can be highlighted from the following points:

Promotes working as a team

In any organisation, as people having different thoughts, ideas and expectations work together, so sometimes, rivalries and conflicts occur amongst them. There can be conflicts between different departments and units regarding the goal of the organisation.

The sense of coordination helps in smoothening these conflicts and encourages people to work together in unity. This is important for every organisation to achieve its goals.

Effective in guiding and motivating

Every organisation is divided into several units and departments. Every department or unit has its own set of tasks and activities. They all need to be guided in their actions and this coordination is very important. Coordination helps in working out solutions wherein everyone can work towards the goal of the organisation.

The process of coordination is important since it gives freedom to the workforce for completing their responsibilities. It rewards people for their good work that motivates them to show better work and initiative in their work and perform better in the organisation.

Effective utilisation of resources

Coordination has an important role to play with the synchronisation of physical and human resources towards a common goal for the success of the organisation. Coordination plays a significant part in bringing them together.

Increases teamwork and establishes human relationships: The people in the organisation learn to work together in unity and the different levels of management interact regularly with the workforce. This establishes a good relationship between workers and managers in the system. Coordination of activities and the flow of communication keep workers happy and satisfied in their jobs.

Enhances performance and productivity

An increase in efficiency leads to an increase in output. Efficiency helps in better utilisation of resources that brings in lesser cost with more returns. Coordination helps in the smooth flow of organisational activities that improve the employees’ working capacity and increase productivity.

Expansion of business

Effectively-coordinated activities lead to the expansion of the company and the growth of the business due to better management of the system. Larger organisations need better control and coordination for managing more number of people, different tasks and activities. Better coordination is required across various and different levels of units and departments for smooth and efficient functioning.

Controls conflicts

Coordination and control help to handle the behavioural issues of the workers and are effective in keeping the conflicts away. Coordination helps in bringing harmony in the system by ensuring conducive working conditions for the people and the workers. People realise the importance of their job and work together in a united manner for achieving the goals of the company.

Establishes unity of action

Every organisation has different methods of working and controlling different departments. Coordination is effective in bringing connectivity amongst the workforce and helps to unite the actions of the people.

Interconnectivity of units

Coordination is effective in handling the operations between the different units and divisions in an organisation. For example, in a steel plant, the purchasing department coordinates with the production department in order to do a coordinated supply of raw materials.

The different units are connected regarding their supplies and output. Coordination of activities plays a major role in these industries.


Types of Coordination

Coordination is an important principle of management that is applied for blending the group activities and tasks that are part of the organisational structure. Coordination is an ongoing process that plays a vital role in the continuous existence, growth and profitability of the organisation.

It promotes working as a team, encourages the workforce and provides the right direction with effective utilisation of the resources. Therefore coordination is rightly called the “Essence of Management” for providing harmonious conditions and smooth functioning of an enterprise.

The various forms of coordination are as follows:

Internal and external coordination

The process of coordination among units of an organisation is called internal coordination. Internal coordination is used to align the actions of different departments and units to make the organisation work without a problem.

For instance, internal coordination exists when production activities of a manufacturing organisation is coordinated by establishing a relationship between production managers, purchase department, warehouse executives and other departmental heads (finance, human resource and marketing).

Internal coordination is required for all kinds of organisations which could be engineering firms, political units, or religious units. Internal coordination is needed for every function of management for ensuring that every unit and department of an organisation is aligned with each other most suitably.

Coordination is needed for regulating the direction of the enterprise, for determining the manpower requirement through effective methods of recruiting, selecting and placing the right people in their job roles. Effective coordination ensures successful completion of all the activities and tasks in the organisation and it is true for all fields irrespective of the type of organisation.

The factors for effective internal coordination are as follows:

  • Every department works together in harmony
  • Clear delegation of roles and responsibilities of the workforce in every department
  • Work of every department should adapt to the changing environment

External coordination relates to the coordination aimed at maximising the synchronisation of efforts and activities of an organisation with the external environment. For instance, purchase department establishes synchronised relationships with suppliers to provide raw material as per the schedule provided considering the ‘Just-In-Time’ approach. The various types of external situations could be in terms of new technologies, the needs of the community and the policies of the government.

Coordination is needed for managing the social objectives of the enterprise, where changes would be required due to the pressure of competition or the changes in the market demand. It is necessary to identify these changes at the right time for the smooth functioning of the enterprise.

The external factors could be in the form of the following:

  • Competitors
  • Government
  • Technology changes
  • Customers 
  • Community
  • Industrial and commercial entities
  • Financial institutions

Vertical and horizontal coordination

Coordination can take place at different levels of hierarchy or authority in an organisation from top to the bottom, from the bottom going upwards and sideways. Vertical coordination takes place from the top level of the hierarchy in the organisation to the bottom.

For instance, the production manager of a textile manufacturing organisation needs to coordinate the activities with production supervisor. Likewise, production supervisor needs to establish cordial relations with his superiors.

Similarly, sales manager of the textile manufacturing organisation coordinates his work with the activities of the sales superintendent and the sales superintendent is required to establish coordinated and cordial relationships with his superiors. There is proper coordination amongst people at different levels of the organisation to work collectively.

Effective coordination requires delegating and dividing the tasks and power to the different levels of the organisational structure for better coordination of work. The managers coordinate the activities and tasks of the workforce at the various levels of the organisation. There is proper delegation of authority through effective monitoring and controlling the workforce to work harmoniously and avoid conflicts. Vertical coordination takes place in tall organisations (an organisation with many levels of hierarchy).

Horizontal coordination refers to the relationships and association between employees working at the same level and in different units and departments too. For instance, horizontal coordination establishes between different departmental heads, foremen of different workshops, superintendents of different sections, etc., to execute the activities and achieve organisational objectives.

The employees involved belong to the same hierarchical level and have same authority level too. These forms of organisational structures work effectively with proper coordination. It is the process of interlinking the activities through the units and departments at the same level.

The horizontal coordination can be maintained with the following:

  • Maintaining extra resources
  • Facilitating information and communication systems
  • Establishing lateral relationships through:
    • Method of direct contact
    • Coordinating through liaison officers
    • Creating a task force
    • Organising committees
    • Role of different managers

Procedural and substantive coordination

Procedural coordination defines the relationships and determines the level of authority delegated for the work to be done among the people within the organisation. According to Herbert Simon, procedural coordination is the specification of the organisation itself—that is, the generalised description of the behaviour and relationships of the members of the organisation.

Substantive coordination refers to the specific and detailed content of the tasks and activities done in the organisation. The job could be based on a certain specialisation of knowledge. For instance, the organisation chart of an automobile plant reflects the procedural coordination; whereas, the blueprints for the engine block of the car being manufactured shows the substantive coordination.


Techniques of Coordination

Coordination is required for making activities and tasks of an organisation well balanced and integrated. Coordination is a continuous and ongoing process that requires the interlinking of the people and activities for achieving the unity of purpose within the enterprise.

The different techniques that are used for achieving good coordination are as follows:

Sound and proper planning

Coordination requires sound planning, so the workforce of the organisation must be aware of the goals and mission of the enterprise. The objectives should be set properly and the rules should be clearly defined for people to follow them.

Cleary defined goals

The goals must be clearly defined since the organisation cannot work on complicated systems. Coordination requires simple and clear procedures, systems and policies for people to follow. The responsibilities of the workers and the departments should be defined clearly for the proper working of the system for avoiding conflicts or problems.

Sound organisational structure

Coordination requires sound organisational structure that clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of each person of the organisation. There should be proper organisation charts and manuals maintained.

According to J.O. Shaughnessy, You cannot always bring together the results of department activities and expect to coordinate them. You must have an organisation which will permit inter-weaving all along the line.

Effective communication

The process of communication is very important for the working of a system and effective coordination. There is an exchange of information and knowledge between workers, managers and departments.

Communication helps in coordinating the work and sorting out problems for the smooth functioning of the system. Coordination takes place when people take part in decision making, exchange of ideas and information for making policies with an effective system of feedback.

Proper guidance and supervising

Managers guide and supervise the people through effective leadership by smoothly aligning the tasks and activities of the people through coordination. Effective supervision helps to accomplish tasks and establish a good relationship between the people and the managers.

People are directed and guided by supervisors and they accept and respect the leadership that helps them to work in a united way for achieving the goals of the organisation.

Chain of command

Exercise of power and authority is necessary for coordinating the functions in the organisation. The different departments and levels of the organisation are brought together by the chain of command through the different levels of hierarchy within the organisation.

Chain of command along with coordination is used to handle the complexities of the organisation system. Though this is an old method of taking control, it is still the most accepted way of coordination. The different departments are combined with one supervisor to control and coordinate activities of the organisation.

According to Chris Argyrols, the hierarchy technique of coordination makes individuals dependent upon and passive towards the leader.

Group discussion and cooperation

Group discussion and cooperation are necessary tools for coordination. People in an organisation cooperate only when there is a free and open exchange of views, ideas, information problems and solutions. The face-to-face method of communication with one another leads to better coordination. It creates a harmonious relationship between the people working in the organisation.

Establishes interpersonal relationships

It is important to have connectivity between the different departments and also between the management and workers of the organisation. The interpersonal relationships are set through the managers or liaison officers who act as intermediaries between the different departments. ‰

Through special coordinators

Large organisations have specialised employees for specialised jobs known as special coordinators. The special coordinators give specialised advice regarding planning, controlling and coordination of various activities of the organisation.


Difficulties in Coordination

Coordination helps to create order and a harmonious situation throughout an organisation. Many difficulties are encountered in the process of coordination. These difficulties must be overcome so as to enable smooth working in the organisation. Difficulties in coordination may arise due to many unintentional reasons.

For instance, the marketing department at a famous car dealership posts advertisements for specific upcoming cars. However, the salespeople do not have any information about which cars were advertised. This has created confusion when a customer calls and shows his interest in knowing about a specific car shown in the ad.

The marketing department has no intention of information-hoarding. It is just that the people of both departments do not sit next to each other or have frequent conversations about the activities of their specific departments. Even if the information would have been shared, it would have to be translated to a format usable by the salespeople.

Some of these difficulties are mentioned as follows:

Unclear objectives and goals

It is not possible to have proper coordination if people are not clear about the objectives and goals of the organisation. It is necessary for every person working in the organisation to understand their roles and responsibilities.

The management of the company should clearly define its objectives along with the different activities and functions to be carried out in the company. The different actions and roles should be designed to connect and interrelate with each unit and department for the system to work smoothly in a coordinated manner.

No clarity in the division of work

The difficulties in coordination arise when there is no clarity in division and delegation of work in the organisation. An effective organisation requires proper delegation of work and defining of roles and responsibilities. Coordination becomes challenging if the work assigned to the people is not according to their qualifications and skills.

Lacking administration skills

Lack of administration skills can lead to bad management of people leading to confusion, delay in the work and low productivity. Coordination helps to integrate the activities of people for achieving a common goal. The manager should have the experience of handling people and there should be mutual respect among people in the organisation.

Unstructured organisation

If the organisational structure is not created properly, then it becomes challenging to handle people without any definite line of authority and span of control. People are unclear regarding their roles and responsibilities due to poor organisational structure making coordination very difficult.

Undefined lines of authority

Line of authority needs to be properly defined for achieving effective coordination where the people in the organisation should know what is expected from them. The authority should be determined clearly and the workforce should be aware of their responsibilities and should be accountable for working in their domains.

Ineffective communication

Coordination cannot work properly without proper communication since the flow of communication helps in developing networks and helps with coordinating activities. There needs to be a two-way flow of communication for gathering accurate information between the people in the organisation.

A lack of communication in the organisation leads to a decrease in productivity, complicates processes and delay the completion of tasks.

Ineffective leadership

There should be proper delegation of work by the manager with proper planning and direction so that the work moves in the right direction. The manager through effective leadership should be able to coordinate the activities during the stage of planning and implementation.

He should amicably handle the conflicts between the people and offer incentives that help in enhancing team-spirit and establish a relationship between employers and employees.


Management Topics

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