What Are The Best Management Styles?

Our management styles determine how we interact with our employees - our key resource. Ideally, the best approaches are those which motivate employees and encourage them to fully engage with the business, as if it was their own.

A good manager realises that a range of management styles are needed, depending on the situation and the individuals involved. They are continually learning and observing management practices in others, to find out what works.

Adapting to the Work Scenario

In previous decades, the pace of change in business was much slower than today. A directive management style was common. There were clear demarcations between employees and management. The higher the management rank, the greater the authority. Status symbols such as private offices and company cars existed. A "silo" effect occurred with a departmental structure which did not encourage lateral movement or interaction of employees.

Where uncertainty exists and fast decisions are necessary, employees still expect managers to have a directive management style, having a clear focus on the way forward and how to get there.

In today's world, organisations need a different approach - they need to be a lot more fluid and responsive to survive. Customer demands are increasing and employees are also not expecting to stay in a "job for life". They want their efforts to be recognised and they look for career paths which may involve lateral as well as vertical job movements.

Fresh thinking and problem solving is fostered with a consultative management style which invites employees to make a contribution. This requires good two way communication systems, both vertically and laterally in the business.

It can take time to switch to a culture where employees feel able and willing to be more creative, and it requires patience and perserverance. As employees become more involved and a culture of trust develops, managers can then delegate more tasks and take on more of a coaching and support role.

Adapting to the Individual

Managers need to recognise the motivation and skill levels of their employees, in order to decide how best to manage them. For example:

High motivation/low skill

In this case, a good manager will provide "what if" scenarios and help fill gaps in their knowledge, through coaching and training, being mindful to maintain their motivation level.

Low motivation/high skill

A good manager will aim to find out what it is that motivates the person - even outside of the workplace - and see if this can be incorporated into their job.

Low motivation/low skill

A good manager has to assess if they are right for the job, and if so, give clear targets and a regular coaching schedule to help them move forward.

High motivation/high skill

A good manager instinctively know when an employee is ready to take on additional responsibilities and work more on their own initiative.

Whatever the situation, good managers "manage by walking around". Being more visible and accessible will help trust and communication to grow. Good managers are mindful not to create a barrier through status symbols, such as company cars and high status office spaces.

A seating arrangement in the work canteen which does not encourage interaction between different functions and departments can also restrict progress. Consider the unwritten ground rules in your organisation - and tackle those that prevent you from managing in a more inclusive way.

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