The Disadvantages of Traditional Management

by Neil Kokemuller; Updated September 26, 2017
Businessman with coworkers

Traditional management, often compared to Douglas McGregor's Theory X style outlined in his 1960s book, "The Human Side of Enterprise," was the prominent management style throughout much of the 20th century. It involves a much more authoritative and directive form of leadership, whereas the more popular 21st-century Theory Y-coaching style is more about employee participation and development. Limitations of traditional management helped pave the way for a widespread transition to Theory Y approaches.

Contradicts Employee Empowerment

Employee empowerment, a trait whereby company employees are entrusted with critical decision making, has become common in early 21st-century work environments. Companies recognize that employees have a stronger sense of ownership at work when actively involved in decisions. Customers also benefit from more immediate help with problem solving. Traditional management thinking directly contradicts the premise of employee empowerment because it centers on the belief that employees generally lack ambition, dislike work and cannot intelligently make business decisions.

Limited Motivation Potential

Traditional management inherently relies on lower order motivational tools, according to the NetMBA website. As a very authoritative style, managers who operate with traditional management techniques are limited in their ability to motivate employees through praise, coaching and constructive feedback, which are common to Theory Y coaching. Traditional management generally assumes that reasonable pay and benefits are the most effective motivation tools available.

Restricted Communication

Traditional management establishes a clear separation between the management and employee levels within a company. This goes against more open communication between managers and employees in the coaching management style. Managers often rely on employees to share feedback on their experiences in their jobs. Companies are more often including frontline employees in helping establishing workplace policies and developing ideas for department goals.

Creative Inhibition

Traditional management especially conflicts with creative expression. Employees in advertising agencies and art and design jobs typically create more effectively with loose and casual structure. Traditional management is based in a structured workplace where employees are held to strict standards of professionalism and performance. Thus, traditional management very rarely fits well in these types of work environments where creative flexibility is key.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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