Artists – Meet Henri Fayol

Henri Fayol Pioneer in Management

Henri Fayol was a pioneer in the field of management with 14 Principles of Management every art business can use.

Henri Fayol wasn’t an artist but he was one of the founders of the art of management. He was one of the first to take a look at an organization and come up with some basic principles of management that should be applied to organizations of all types and sizes. If you run, manage or work for an organization you should really consider what Henri Fayol had to say.

One thing in common that all successful businesses share is that they are well managed – and successful art businesses are no different! Whether your art business is large or small, whether you devote full time or part-time to your art business, or if you manage other people or other people manage you, then learning about management is one of the keys to success in business.

One of the early classics on management, General and Industrial Management was written by Henri Fayol in 1916. He was in charge of a mining operation in France at the turn of the 19th century and was responsible for over a 1,000 employees. Fayol came up with 14 principles of management which you should become familiar with. Some of his ideas have become tempered in the 21st century but they still provide a good foundation upon which to build your management skills.

Fayol’s 14 Principles of Management

  1. Division of Work: The idea here is that work should be assigned to those who are best able to perform it or more simply – specialization. This is not to say that you should not cross train your employees or try new skills.
  2. Authority: Managers in an organization have the right to give orders or direct the employees that they are in charge of. Along with authority comes a responsibility for managers to act in a proper manner. Authority and responsibility are two sides of the same coin. As an art business owner the buck stops with you!
  3. Discipline: In an organization there are rules and all personnel must follow them. I like to think of the term “Discipline” not in the sense of punishment but rather in the sense of a well disciplined, team working together – like a really good marching band! Managers are responsible for making sure that employees obey and respect the rules in a fair and equal manner. You don’t have to be hard handed to maintain discipline in your art business.
  4. Unity of Direction: People in the organization should be familiar with and strive toward common goals for the company and/or a department. It is hard to get things done and achieve success when everyone is going in different directions. Be sure to share your plan or vision for your art business with the others that you will need to depend on. You want everyone pulling on the rope in the same direction not pulling it apart!
  5. Unity of Command: Workers should be directed or receive orders from only one manager. You may have your own examples of what it is like to work for “two” bosses. The only thing worse than having two bosses is two bosses telling an employee to do different things. See #4 Unity of Direction
  6. Subordination of the Individual Interest to the General Interest: Individual interests should not be given priority over the interests of the organization. When you see a business scandal this principle has usually been violated.
  7. Remuneration: Workers must be paid an equitable and fair wage. This wage is determined by many factors such as the generally prevailing wage, an employee’s skill level, economic conditions and the general health of the company. In modern management we have learned that there are other ways to reward employees such as time off, recognition and a simple, “job well done!”
  8. Centralization: The concept here is to find a balance between centralization and decentralization in making decisions. Do all orders come from the top or are workers allowed to make decisions. In recent years there has been a move to decentralization of decision making. Some activities in an organization are better performed when employees have the freedom to make decisions on their own.
  9. Scalar Chain: When Fayol developed his principles of management the organization chart was hierarchical where orders flowed from the top through the various levels of management to the workers. He made an important distinction that as orders flowed from the top, information and feedback should flow from the bottom upward. This was necessary for managers to know that their orders and initiatives were working. Today the typical organization chart has evolved to include other structures such as the matrix and horizontal design. The idea behind these structures is to allow information and orders to flow in other manners that are more efficient or make more sense. The trick is to figure out what will work best for you.
  10. Order: This principle relates to the idea that both people and materials should be in the right place at the right time. This concept has been further refined in the discipline of production, operations and inventory management. An easy place to start with Order is to make sure that your studio and office are well organized and set up. The next thing is to take a look at your production processes or projects and organize them so that you will be more productive.
  11. Equity: Fayol stressed that managers should be fair and equitable to their subordinates. While this may seem as obvious and a given, you need to stop and consider Equity in the many management decision you will make in your art business.
  12. Stability of Tenure of Personnel: Turnover is expensive and retaining employees should be one of your top priorities. It costs money to recruit new employees and to train them. New workers are more likely to make mistakes and quality may suffer as they come up to speed. An important thing to remember about having a stable workforce is that it starts when you recruit and select new employees and is dependent on how well they are managed and rewarded. You need to give people a reason to stick around!
  13. Initiative: A manager should encourage and develop worker initiative as a way to improve productivity and increase worker satisfaction. The problem with micro-managing is that if you are spending too much time telling others what to do you are likely neglecting your own responsibilities. Don’t be a micro-manager!
  14. Espirit de Corps: Espirit de Corps is a French expression meaning “Spirit of Body”. Some of the things embodied in this expression include: pride, shared team spirit, fellowship, sense of duty, loyalty, enthusiasm and responsibility for the organization and its goals. You should strive to create a great team and make your business a great place to work. Companies that have a great team are noticed by all and for many this is the secret to their success. If your employees are not happy this will affect their productivity and the quality of their work. A workforce that is not productive and quality conscious will have a direct impact on your profitability and possibly the survival of your business. Take building Espirit de Corps seriously and make it one of your top priorities!

The bottom line(s)

You learned it as a child and it has a big place in managing other people: “one should treat others as one would like to be treated.” This “Golden Rule” will serve you well in managing people and with your interactions with your customers, suppliers and others whom your business touches. Being a manager may require you to make tough choices but there is nothing to say that you can’t be empathetic, respectful and civil.

If you would like to learn more about building your art business and selling more art I invite you to check out my book – The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox. Good Luck!


Neil McKenzie is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business available in softcover from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.   He has developed and teaches the course “Artrepreneurship” at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver where he teaches “Marketing the Arts”.

Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations, a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, where he covers the creative sector of the economy, and the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilmckenzphoto