Ever wonder what separates good managers from the rest? Are they more involved, or do they perhaps have stronger leadership skills? As a current or future manager, you want the best for your company and its employees. That's why it's important to familiarize yourself with the different management techniques and styles.
Management Styles and Organizational Performance
Each manager has his own way of training the team and getting things done. His approach has a different impact on employee performance and morale. Different management styles and techniques have different outcomes in terms of effectiveness, organizational culture, work performance and other key factors influencing your business.
Management style is the manner in which team leaders and managers use their authority in the workplace, interact with employees and achieve their objectives. The autocratic, democratic, permissive, persuasive and laissez-faire leadership styles are widely used in organizations worldwide. Each of them is characterized by different management techniques.
Studies show a direct link between leadership style and organizational performance. Experts say that a more human-oriented management style tends to yield better results in terms of employee satisfaction. Employees who are motivated and engaged are more likely to try their best to meet the company's goals and help your business grow.
Research the Different Management Styles
Whether you're leading a small team or an entire organization, take the time to learn about the different types of management and their impact on employee performance and satisfaction. Later on, you can develop your own management style and experiment with various techniques to motivate your team and ensure that the company's objectives are met.
Good managers are flexible and can adjust their leadership style to suit different teams, environments and even individual employees' needs. They can shift from a democratic style to a laissez-faire style and vice versa depending on circumstances. According to the Hay/McBer Group and other experts, there are at least six different styles of management, including:
- Authoritative style
- Directive style
- Affiliative style
- Democratic (participative) style
- Coaching style
- Pacesetting style
Other specialists have classified the different types of management into persuasive styles, laissez-faire or delegative styles, visionary styles, transformational styles and more. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses and may or may not work depending on the organization's culture and goals.
The Authoritative Style
This management style is characterized by a clear hierarchy and strict policies in the organization. Top managers hold all the power and make decisions without consulting their teams or requesting feedback. Employees who fail to complete their tasks or execute orders will face disciplinary action.
Even though the authoritative style leads to faster decision making, it can also result in costly mistakes and affect employee morale. The decisions you make may not be the best for the organization. Sometimes, getting a second opinion can give you a new perspective and provide more complete information.
Leaders who embrace the authoritative management style have little trust in their employees and expect their orders to be executed without further discussion. The problem is that if your instructions are unclear or your employees don't believe in your vision, they may not be able to get things done. Plus, there is no room for creativity and self-expression.
The Directive Style
This leadership style is quite similar to the authoritative style. Managers expect their employees to execute orders and follow the rules as directed. In order for this approach to work, it's important that you provide clear instructions and adequate training.
The path-goal theory, which stands behind this type of management, states that leaders must set clear goals for their employees and show them how to achieve those objectives. This helps increase an employee's belief that their efforts and hard work will help them meet the goal, which in turn will lead to rewards.
Directive leadership works best for teams that consist of unskilled employees, as it helps them expand their knowledge and gain expertise. Workers know that if they get the job done, they'll be given more autonomy and their efforts will be acknowledged. Furthermore, this type of management is suitable when you need to make quick decisions and deal with emergencies in the workplace.
The Affiliative Style
Affiliative leadership aims to promote harmony between managers and their employees. Managers support and encourage their teams, take pride in their ability to keep them happy and tend to provide positive feedback. The end goal is to create a balanced workplace and avoid conflicts.
This style of management has its drawbacks, though. Many times, managers overlook employees' poor performance and may not be able to handle their teams when facing complex challenges. As a result, employees may settle for less and fail to reach their full potential.
Ideally, use this approach when your team needs reassurance and motivation. Encourage your employees to strive for the best and focus on improving their skills. A constant stream of positive feedback might turn against you and keep your team from achieving peak performance.
The Democratic Style
Democratic leaders encourage their employees to participate in the decision-making process and solve problems together. This type of management fosters a creative environment and collaboration, improves teamwork and ensures effective communication.
Employees' opinions are factored in before the manager makes decisions, leading to increased team morale. Leaders motivate workers by rewarding team effort and building respect and loyalty. Google, Amazon, Twitter and other popular companies embrace this leadership model.
The downside is that this approach may lead to disagreements and procrastination. If employees don't agree with the manager and vice versa, conflicts may arise. Additionally, the decision-making process is often delayed.
The Coaching Style
As its name suggests, this management style focuses on investing in people so they can develop their skills and become better at what they do. Managers use mentoring and coaching techniques to help their team members grow professionally and reach their full potential.
The coaching style works best in organizations where managers have extensive knowledge and experience in their area of activity. If you lack the expertise to coach people, you may not obtain noticeable results. Furthermore, this type of management is unlikely to work in a crisis situation or when quick decisions are needed.
The Pacesetting Style
Managers who adopt this leadership style have extremely high standards and expect employees to follow their example and strive for the best. Unfortunately, motivating people is not their strongest point. Many pacesetting leaders fail to provide clear instructions and guidelines, which may create confusion in the workplace.
This type of management works best in organizations dealing with teams of experts. These people need little coordination because they already know what they have to do.
These management styles can be further broken down into several categories based on the manager's individual characteristics. For example, the consultative style, participative style and collaborative style are all different forms of democratic leadership.
Which Management Techniques Work Best?
These are some of the most common management techniques used by leaders worldwide. The question is: Which ones work best, and how do you employ them in your organization?
Sure, you might already know that it's important to encourage and motivate your staff, provide constructive feedback and delegate responsibilities, but how exactly should you do it? Let's take a closer look at some of the top management techniques to boost performance and productivity in the workplace.
Be Open to New Ideas
As a manager, you may want to be in control. However, this doesn't mean you should say no to new ideas and innovation.
Give your employees the chance to compete openly for support and come up with new strategies. Listen to what they have to say before making a final decision. Encourage them to share their thoughts as well as their concerns.
Let's say you're trying to cut costs and decide to stop a project in its tracks or fire people. One of your employees suggests that switching to new equipment will cut the company's expenses by half over the next two or three years, and perhaps it can improve employees' performance, free up their time or save energy. Take his opinion into account. He knows the ins and outs of that particular piece of equipment, so he might be right.
Foster Creativity in the Workplace
The best leaders are always looking for the next great idea. They're not afraid to take risks and invest in the projects in which they believe. Think of the world's most successful companies, such as Facebook and Apple. They all encourage innovation and are not afraid to do things differently.
Build a diverse team rather than hiring people who have a specific set of skills. Be willing to accept different points of view and encourage healthy debate. Run brainstorming sessions, reward creative thinking and show your interest in new projects.
Motivate Your Team
Managers have the responsibility to build confidence in their team's abilities. Whenever an employee does a great job, acknowledge and reward her accomplishments. Encourage your team to get actively involved in each project and incentivize their efforts.
Only 33 percent of U.S. employees are engaged at work. Approximately 44 percent say that skilled workers are not given recognition. Lack of engagement and appreciation can demotivate even the most committed workers. In fact, companies lose $450 to $550 billion annually because of employee disengagement.
Most people don't just work for a paycheck. They want their efforts to be recognized. Today's employees expect managers to invest in their development and give them a purpose.
Lead by Example
Actions speak louder than words. As a manager, you must lead by example in order to build trust with your team and develop genuine relationships. This approach inspires people and makes them want to follow you.
If you want your team to work together successfully, you need to practice what you preach. This is particularly important when you're dealing with a startup or small company.
Get your hands dirty and work alongside your team. Share your expertise and provide real-life examples rather than just giving instructions or setting milestones. If you make a bad decision, take responsibility for your mistakes instead of blaming your team.
Provide Constructive Feedback
Hold your employees accountable, assess their performance and provide feedback. Don't just say "This isn't what I want" or "You're doing it all wrong." Let your team members know what they did wrong and what could be improved.
Your feedback should help employees hone their skills and perform better in the workplace. If you only criticize them without pointing out their mistakes, they won't understand what went wrong. Keep your message clear, objective and task-focused.
Refrain from criticizing publicly. If one of your employees makes a major mistake, schedule a face-to-face meeting to discuss these issues. Listen to what he has to say and find a way to help him do things better next time.
There are many other management techniques that can improve your company's performance and help your team grow. Make your goals clear and transparent, show your employees that they matter and look at mistakes as learning opportunities.
- Community College of Rhode Island: Hay-McBer: Six Key Leadership or Management Styles
- Chartered Management Institute: Understanding Management and Leadership Styles
- BusinessDictionary: Directive Leadership
- BusinessDictionary: Affiliative Leadership
- PennState: What Is Path-Goal Theory?
- Gallup: American Workplace Changing at a Dizzying Pace
- Mental Health America: Mind the Workplace
- Association for Talent Development: Transforming Leadership – Selecting a Style for Your Team
- University of Twente Theses: Leadership Styles and Their Influence on Employees Regarding the Acceptance of Organizational Change