If you're struggling with management techniques that don't seem to be working anymore or are just starting out and are wondering what management styles are currently used successfully, you're coming to the discussion at a good time. Unlike in years past, where specific management styles were described and popularized, modern management techniques are fluid and continually evolving. Effective management is a reflection of the current culture and how people expect to be treated. One aspect that hasn't changed, though, is that you need to be comfortable with the management techniques you decide to use.
Once upon a time, every business operated on a traditional control system of management that came to be known as the autocratic or authoritarian management style. Companies were small, with one owner – or maybe two partners – who called all the shots. Even as businesses grew and some formed large corporations, those at the top still told those under them what to do and how to do it. Everyone was expected to follow orders or follow the path out the door.
Society today empowers people to give their opinions and take initiative, and they expect to act similarly at work. Management techniques that rely on having total control can result in resentment or apathy. When workers' input isn't valued, they lose motivation and the drive to achieve.
Today's workforce resists being micromanaged, too, if workers were ever receptive to it. Work becomes quite stressful with someone critiquing your every step. Yet macromanaging, or in other words giving employees so much freedom that they don't feel supported by their managers, is rarely the best environment either. Somewhere in between the two is the point where workers are trusted to decide how to do a task but know where to turn for advice or guidance.
The characteristics of modern management techniques allow for more participation from employees. For some, a more democratic technique works best. Employees are encouraged to give their feedback while managers listen and evaluate all the comments and ideas before making their decisions. It isn't a totally permissive management technique, where individuals do whatever they please, typically resulting in chaos.
Somewhere in the middle is the more democratic way of managing that fits that organization or department.
Another management style that has been used in the past and can still be effective uses coaching techniques. This requires more explanation, however, because if you've ever played or followed team sports you know that there are many coaching styles. Some manage their team like an authoritarian, in effect saying, "Do exactly what I tell you to do and don't question me." Players on those teams know not to speak up or give their ideas.
Then there are the coaches who motivate their team with encouragement, share strategies and rely on each team member to apply their skills to achieve the goal. These team members are pumped up with a drive to make contributions for the good of the team. They appreciate the coach's direction and value the support he gives them.
Goal setting is one of the most important modern management techniques and enhances every management style. Be sure to set interim goals so employees can see their progress, and make goals measurable so both you and your employees know when each goal has been achieved. Make sure your entire staff knows the company's overarching goals and vision so they can see how their contributions fit in.
If there's one thing that can confidently be said, it's that business is constantly changing. Technology has put instant communication at your fingertips but also requires businesses to stay current in everything they do. That includes the way you communicate with your employees, who can make or break a business.
Like many successful managers, you may want to combine several techniques for your own unique style. It's important, too, to understand that you may need to bend one way or the other for employees with different personalities, working styles and experience. Whatever management style and techniques you decide to try, be flexible enough to change techniques when you need to as the people you hire and business culture continue to change.