Role of Coordination in the Organization

Role of Coordination in the Organization

The organization consists of several components which are broad and complex. Hence, for carrying out its operations for achieving a balanced organizational performance, coordination is a necessary activity. Coordination is central to the very existence of an organization. It plays a fundamental role in the organization’s operational activities Different theories related to the organization are in several ways rooted in the coordination benefits of hierarchical control relative to the market, the superior capacity of managerial hierarchies to efficiently coordinate transactions involving specific assets, and the synergistic potential of coordinating multiple activities within the organization.

The different activities of the organization are normally grouped and carried out in different divisions. Within each division, there are departments and sections for performing different operations according to the work flow and the nature of tasks involved. Activities of such divisions, departments, and sections are to be monitored by harmonizing individual and group efforts. This is normally achieved through coordination.

Coordination brings harmonious and united action to achieve the common organizational objectives. In the organization, activities of divisions, departments, and sections are required to be coordinated in order to derive the benefits of specialization and smooth operation. Employees working in different divisions, departments, and sections are expected to contribute maximum efforts in the performance of their tasks. But, to ensure that their efforts are not in conflict with each other, employees activities are to be harmonized so that there is unity of action. The process by which the organizational management brings unity of action in the organization is called the coordination process.

Coordination means ordering the direction, volume, and timing of flows of activities, goods and services so that the functioning of one element in a system at least does not prevent or negate or hamper the functioning of other elements, and at best facilitates and assists the functioning of other elements. In a situation where exists a high level of consensus within the organization, coordination is likely to consist of integration around the common objectives. Where consensus on the objectives is low, conflict normally dominate and coordination is likely to consist of accommodation so that organizational employees do not block each other from attaining the objectives.  However, the organization is to perform both types of coordination, since the organization is normally a complex mixture of conflict in some areas and cooperation in others.

Coordination is a critical element for the organizational performance. The main reason for the existence of the organization is its capability to coordinate the resources more efficiently than price mechanisms in the market. The organizations represent social knowledge of coordination and learning. The efficiency of coordination in the organization, compared to market structures, comes from a shared identity which creates norms and practices to direct the behaviour. Furthermore, the coordination is inter-dependence between different tasks or activities which frequently determines how effectively and efficiently the overall goals are achieved. In the organization, the way how the work is broken down and coordinated has a significant impact on productivity, quality, and efficiency.

The ability to coordinate activities is especially important when the number of inter-dependencies between tasks increases, posing added complexity.  The coordination requirements in complex tasks differ from those of simple ones. Also, in an organization with multiple and a variety of operations and in several locations, coordination becomes increasingly important and complex. Such organization requires division of work activities into smaller units, so that the coordination within and between the smaller units becomes manageable.

Within organization, coordination largely focuses on the coordination mechanisms between the different parts of ‘permanent organizational arrangements’, more precisely coordination between formal work units or functional departments. Further, the focus of the coordination is to be in teams or groups rather the interaction between different individuals than dependencies in workflow or dependencies between organizational units.

Poor productivity and intra-organizational and inter-organizational conflicts frequently arising from improper networking of men, materials, and ideas are some of the key issues of the present day organizations. Present day organizations are characterized by complexities and this has greatly informed more questions about organizational performance.

The term coordination has been developed in various fields of activities to coordinate the functioning between different components and objects, because of their usefulness to organization. Also, for the organization to function efficiently there is always a need to enhance the existing intra- and inter coordination activities.

The term organization is frequently associated with coordination which ranges from bureaucratic system based on norms to competitive system based on market. Also, many times coordination is classified as an element of organization. Conceptualizing organization can start with the aggregation of formal (classical), informal (human relation or behavioural), and the system (decision making) theories, since the organizational concepts are normally used to determine the organizational characteristics as well as individual behaviour. The concept of the organization comes into being when certain conditions are in place. These conditions are (i) when people are able and willing to communicate with one another, (ii) when the same people are also willing to do something to contribute an action, or to an order, and (iii) to accomplish a common purpose.

The two important things here are that when employees are able to cooperate, and derive satisfactions in the process of cooperation, the organization becomes efficient and effective, since the performance is gladly achieved. The organization is also frequently being characterized from a structural and process perspective with a link on vertical and horizontal relationships. In this characterization, structural characteristics are hierarchy, specialization, span of control etc., while the process characteristics include such features as planning, organizing, coordinating etc. If inter-dependence is missing, then there is nothing to coordinate.

Coordination is the inter-relation of functions, structures, and resources in the context of the organization, which can take place at different levels or possess different dimensions. Further, the coordination activities are required to be carried out at all the levels of the organization both vertically and horizontally. Also, internal and external coordination activities exist in every organization.

Vertical and horizontal coordination – Vertical coordination refers to the synchronization of activities and efforts of the employees at different levels in the organization. It can be both downward as well as upward coordination, but downward coordination is more prominent in every organization. Vertical coordination is ensured by top management through delegation of authority. Horizontal coordination means coordination between various positions at the same level in the organization, which is brought about through mutual consultation and cooperation.

Internal and external coordination – Synchronization of the activities and efforts of employees within organization as well as within each of the respective division, departments, and sections of the organization is known as internal coordination. External coordination relates to synchronization of the activities between the organization and its external environment comprising of share holders, customers, suppliers, competitors, statutory bodies, local authorities, bankers and financial institutions, and local press etc. External coordination is very essential for the survival and the growth of the organization just like the internal coordination.

Objectives of coordination

Coordination is carried out with certain objectives. The main objectives of coordination in an organization are given below.

Reconciliation of goal and objectives – Conflicts in organization arise because of differences between the organizational goal and objectives and individual employees’ goals and the individualistic perception of the organizational goal and objectives and their realizations. Coordination is the only means by which such conflicts can be avoided. Through personal contacts and better communication, conflicts are minimized and unity of purpose is achieved. In the organization, employees’ commitment to organizational goal and objectives is essential and this is achieved through coordination.

Total accomplishment of goal and objectives – Although employees in the organization are firmly committed to the organizational goal and objectives, employees’ individual contribution to work bring about total accomplishment which is in excess of the aggregate of the individual employee contributions. This is achieved through the establishment of a reporting system and clearly specifying the role of the individual employee.

Harmonious relationship – One of the important objectives of coordination is to maintain harmonious relationship between the employees and the organization. Individual employees derive satisfaction when their work performance brings about realization of the desired goal and objectives. This keeps their morale high. As the organization is structured with clear lines of authority and responsibility,  -conflict between the operational and service employees are to be minimized and healthier relationship is required to be established by better coordination between them. This not only helps in reducing employee turnover, but also enables employees stick to their jobs in the organization. Hence, coordination in the organization is expected to promote good personal relationships.

Economy and efficiency – Coordination aims at bringing about economy and efficiency of operations through synchronization of activities and individual efforts by minimizing the wastage of resources. Thus there is saving of time and expense. Reduced rejection and minimum delays in execution lead to efficiency of operations in the organization.

Coordination refers to the orderly arrangement of individual and group efforts to ensure unity of action in the realization of common objectives. It involves synchronization of different actions or efforts of the various divisions, departments, and sections of the organization to provide the requisite amount, quality, timing and sequence of efforts so that the planned objectives are achieved with minimum of conflict. 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 the harmony among the members themselves. It is the process whereby the line managers develop an orderly pattern of group efforts among their subordinates and secures unity of action in the pursuit of common purpose.

Coordination is also considered as the orderly synchronizing of efforts of the employees in the organization to provide the proper amount, timing and quality of execution so that their united efforts lead to the stated objectives of the organization. Typical definitions of coordination include (i) the act of coordinating, making different people or things work together for a goal or effect, (ii) the regulation of diverse elements into an integrated and harmonious operation, (iii) integrating or linking together different parts of the organization to accomplish a collective set of tasks, and (iv) integrating or linking together different resources to accomplish a collective set of tasks. Coordination is the act of managing inter-dependencies between activities. These definitions indicate that if there is no inter-dependence, there is nothing to coordinate.

From the various definitions, it can be inferred that coordination is a conscious process of assembling and synchronizing different kinds of activities with a view to achieve specific objectives. The following five points emerge from the definitions of the coordination.

Harmonization of group efforts – There is an emphasis on the harmonization of group efforts which points out that the organization is not merely a collection of men, money, material, machines, methods, but these resources need to be properly organized. Besides, employees’ efforts are also to be synchronized to ensure proper timing and quality of execution so that the organizational objectives are achieved.

Unity of action – All the employees in the organization perform certain unique and different types of tasks. They are not only related with others in the organization (through structure) but their functions also affect the functions of other employees. A line manager tries to synchronize individual efforts to attain unity of efforts in the pursuit of common objectives. Coordination, therefore, applies to the group efforts.

Pursuit of common purpose – Employees have goals, perceptions, values, beliefs, attitudes etc, and make every effort to achieve their own goals. When individual employees and groups work for achieving their objectives, they also contribute something for the achievement of organizational goals. The conflict, if any, between personal and organizational goals gets resolved through coordination. Line managers are to persuade individuals and groups to work for a common purpose while achieving their own objectives as well.

Continuous process – Coordination is not a one-shot activity but a continuous process. It starts with the very first action in the process of establishment of the organization and runs through until its closure. It is a continuous process for achieving unity of purpose in the organization.

Responsibility – It is also seen that coordination is the most important responsibility of every line manager in the organization as the line manager tries to synchronize the efforts of the employees working under him with others. When this is not felt or achieved then there is a need for a coordinator who ensures that there is an effective coordination.

Need and significance of coordination in the organization

In an organization, employees are engaged in carrying out different tasks. A line manager, through coordination, can avoid potential conflict among employees, duplication of work, reduce wastages and save scarce resources. Synchronization and harmonization of different employees and departmental activities assume importance in achieving the desired organizational objectives. For ensuring harmonious and smooth functioning of the organization and the departmental activities, it is essential that all the decisions and human actions are directed for the achievement of the objectives.  All the decisions and human actions are also required to be pulled together. In doing so, the line managers are to prevent overlapping and duplication of efforts which can affect the unity of action. Hence, effective coordination is the basic need of every organization. The reasons for the coordination being the basic necessity of the organization are given below.

Increase in size and complexity of operations – The advantages of economies of scale have led to large scale production processes which have led to the establishment of big organizations and this has made the operations of these organizations full of complexities. Further, in a big organization there are large numbers of employees for carrying out a variety of tasks. The complex structure of the organization has given rise to various issues which include supervision and communication. Hence, coordination plays an important role in integrating all these activities in the organization.

Specialization – As the size of the production process increases, the process complexity also increases and hence there is a need of highly skilled employees for operating the process. Coordination between highly skilled employees needs different type of skills in the line mangers. Division of work into specialized functions can lead to diversity and lack of uniformity. Line managers are to focus on their own functions as well as the functions of the peripheral sections. Coordination helps in synchronizing the activities of different sections and creates unity in the midst of diversity.

Clash of interests – There is a possibility of conflict between the personal goal of the employee and the organizational goal. Sometimes the employees can pursue their own specialized interests at the expense of the larger organizational objectives. Coordination helps to avoid conflict between the employees’ individual goal and organizational objectives. It brings about harmony between the employees’ individual goal and organizational objectives.

Different outlook – all the employees in the organization have their own way of working and approach towards tackling different issues. Capacity, talent and speed of the employees differ widely in the organization. Hence, it becomes very important to reconcile differences in approach, timing and effort to secure unity of action. By resolving the differences and bringing about unity coordination helps in creating congenial atmosphere in the organization.

Interdependence of units – All the departments and the sections of the organization depend upon one another for their successful functioning. The output of one department and section serves as the input of another department and section. Hence, the need for coordination increases with an increase in the inter-dependence between organizational departments and sections.

Employee behaviour – There is a wide variation normally exists in the behaviours and attitudes of the employees in the organization. Line managers are confined with the job of their own departments. They do not normally get involved in the activities of other departments. This is more visible in the organizations which the line managers are compensated on the basis of their performance. Coordination helps in the integration of the activities of different departments in such organizations.

Principles of coordination

Coordination being crucial for the successful performance of the organization, the organizational management is to follow the principles of coordination for ensuring an effective coordination in the organization. The main principles of the coordination are described below.

Direct person to person contact – Coordination takes place due to the direct contact among the responsible employees in the organization. It takes place through inter-personal relationships, exchange of views, responses, and communication. Personal contacts bring about agreement on methods, actions, and lead to quick and efficient realization of the organizational objectives. Direct contacts pave the way for removing misunderstanding, resolve controversies between the line managers and their subordinate employees, and help in smooth functioning of the organization.

Early take off – Coordination can never be initiated at the execution stage. In fact, coordination is to start from the very beginning of planning process itself. Right from the time of setting objectives, policy formulation and drawing up plans for execution, coordination is to be done. It helps in resolving the issues as soon as they come up. Further, participation right from the initial stage not only facilitates agreement but also induces the employees to give their unconditional commitment to organizational goal and objectives. Thus, coordination needs an early start.

Continuity requirement – Coordination which starts early continues till the attainment of the desired objective. It is a never-ceasing and never-ending exercise of the line managers who strive constantly to maintain proper balance among different group of employees.

Reciprocal relationships – All actions and employees influence and are influenced by other actions and  other employees in the whole organization. Thus, all factors in a situation like material, men, and environment are reciprocally related. This necessitates integration of all efforts and interests towards the same purpose.

Self-coordination – Self-coordination means that one department changes itself favourably even when another department does not have direct control over it and the same is affected by other departments’ activity. For example, when the production department alters the product quality in such a way so as to delight the customers, thus improving the product sales by marketing department, then self-coordination takes place in the production department.

Coordination strategies

There are three main strategies for coordination in the organization (Fig 1). These are (i) centralized coordination strategy, (ii) balanced coordination strategy, and (iii) subordinate coordination strategy.

Centralized coordination strategy – This strategy consists of the group mode of coordination which is the dominant form of information exchange between the departments. In addition, the decision making power is strongly centralized and the organizational boundaries between the departments is strong.  Inter -department interaction is strongly centralized in this strategy to happen through formal and informal group meetings. Physical presence is important in this strategy. Direct personal contacts between department teams are rare. Each department team is focused on the accomplishment of its own part. Power is concentrated to the group leader. Coordination mainly takes place at the program level in group meetings through participating of the employees of different departments.

Balanced coordination strategy – This strategy constitutes the balanced use of different types of formal and informal coordination mechanisms to support information exchange between the departments by the utilization of both rich and lean media for information exchange. The consolidated form of interaction is complemented with the network of direct informal contacts.  Within this strategy, the boundaries between the departments are rather permeable and weak.  Direct contacts between the employees are frequently used to complement group meetings. Responsibility for the inter-department interaction is decentralized. Coordination takes place at both at the program level through group meetings and through liaison between the employees constituting the group. In this strategy, communication takes place through informal communication channels and through formal reports and plans.

Subordinate coordination strategy – This strategy utilizes the organization structure as a means for coordination. In this strategy, the interaction happens mainly through hierarchical referral in decision-making levels and shared through steering groups. The power structure resembles the organization’s configuration. This strategy emphasizes the importance of formality through rigid and uniform reporting practices.  Formal decision making levels are important vehicles for information sharing. Direct contacts between departments are rare and information exchange takes place through employees carrying out the liaison work. Emphasis is given in this strategy on formalization, reporting practices, formal documents, and database. Coordination takes place in different decision-making levels and communicated to the employees through the chain of command at the department level.

Fig 1 Coordination strategies

Techniques for implementation of coordination

For effective and efficient implementation of coordination, there are certain techniques which are available to the employees. It is necessary that the employees in the organization are to be aware of these techniques so that they can make use of them while carrying out the function of coordination. These techniques are described below.

Coordination by rules and procedures – If the work is highly structured and the organization has proper procedures laid down for carrying out the work, then it is easy to predict the outcome. Rules and procedures act as work guide to the employees for taking decisions in the course of their normal activities. Through rules and procedures, line managers can easily specify well in time the required actions to be taken by the employees under them.

Coordination by organization of the departments – In an organization in which departments are not organized properly, coordination can be achieved only at the higher levels of the management. Proper organization of departments facilitates coordination since the inter-department coordination is carried out at the level of head of departments and not at the higher level.

Coordination by simplification of organizational structure -: A simple and sound organizational structure is essential for smooth coordination in the organization. The line of authority and responsibility in the organization is required to be clearly defined. This ensures minimization of inter-personal conflicts and makes room for unified action. Unity of purpose is the primary objective of coordination. Hence, the organizational goal and objectives and employees’ contribution to achieve them through their independent action within the structure are to be clearly understood by all in the organization. This can be facilitated by a simple organizational structure.

Coordination by chain of command – The principle of ‘scalar chain’ which creates superior-subordinate relationship in the organization through hierarchy or chain of command facilitates better coordination due to the clear lines of authority and responsibility having been laid down by the superiors. Because of their organizational position, they have the authority to issue the instructions to the subordinates. Moreover, coordination between inter-dependent sections can be easily achieved by putting the subordinates under one superior.

Coordination by committees -Formation of committees to coordinate is a sound technique. Committees are the body of knowledgeable, experienced and responsible employees entrusted with discharging some functions collectively as a group. In the present scenario, management achieves coordination by creating inter-departmental committees, task forces, and teams. These committees are normally composed of representatives of inter-dependent departments and they are required to meet periodically to discuss the common problems in order to ensure inter-departmental coordination. Committees help in establishing and maintaining face-to-face contact and personal relationships and to promote voluntary cooperation.

Coordination by communication – Effective communication is necessary for proper decision making. Communication also plays a vital role in coordination. Communication facilitates proper understanding between employees and group among whom coordination is to be achieved. Through effective communication, employees understand their scope of activity and limits of functioning. Because of such understanding, employees can ensure both horizontal as well as vertical coordination. With the introduction of information technology, communication network has become free from any barrier and allow easy and quick flow of information. This enables the employees to coordinate their operational activities more efficiently.

Coordination by conference – In large business organization conferences are being organized at regular intervals to provide a platform for discussion of various issues faced by different departments geographically dispersed. In such conferences the management and employees at unit level exchange views, identify problems and resolve it through discussion. Such discussions and decisions taken based on the discussions pave the way for better coordination throughout the organization.

Coordination by special coordinators – In an organization where the higher level managers find little time to attend to basic issues of coordination, they can have an assistant to do the job for them. Such an employee is normally called technical assistant. The main task of a technical assistant is to collect information regarding different issues, analyze the same, list various alternatives available, and suggest steps to be taken by the higher level managers for effective coordination. Thus, the technical assistant provides valuable assistance to the higher level managers in making decision.

Coordination by leadership and supervision – Leadership of top management is the best means of achieving coordination. Sound leadership can persuade subordinates to have identity of interests and to adopt a common outlook. It can also bring self coordination within the group. Personal supervision and establishment of informal contacts with the employees help to create a climate or mutual trust and cooperation which is the foundation of the healthy coordination.

A comprehensive model of coordination is shown in Fig 2.

Fig 2 Comprehensive model of coordination

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