Your job is what you make of it, true, but your experience is also shaped by the people you work with, not to mention those you work for. Different managers employ different management styles and the sooner you understand their style, the easier it will be to provide them with what they want, hopefully ensuring a happier working environment.
According to Hay-McBer there are six key leadership or management styles. Some managers use more than one style, depending on what the situation calls for.
Coercive or Directive style
This is essentially a micromanager – they’re all about compliance, threats and discipline. It’s not a great way to lead people, but it can be effective if there is a crisis and a set course of action is required. You’re unlikely to learn much under a manager like this and most people resent being micromanaged. That said, if you find yourself working under a manager who uses this style, the best thing you can do is provide them with information – ongoing status reports will ensure they know exactly where you are and what you’re doing, which is the way they like things.
Authoritative or Visionary style
Perhaps the most effective way to manage people, these managers provide their staff with long term goals and direction. As part of a team, you will always know what is required of you in terms of your role in the team, and you’ll be working for someone who gives you the space to get on with your job. These managers are firm, fair and provide you with constructive feedback on performance.
A manager who makes use of this style just wants to keep everyone happy – they’ll be most likely to avoid conflict and work hard at ensuring that relationships amongst team members are good. It’s an effective style in situations where morale has generally been low and needs improvement, but it’s not ideal in terms of enhancing performance and can be frustrating to people who are more task orientated.
Democratic or Participative style
Built on the concepts of consensus and commitment, this management style encourages every person to have a voice and take part when it comes to making decisions. Team efforts are rewarded and leaders use a democratic style, which works well with a group of experienced people, however it can be more challenging if you’re still learning the ropes, in which case you’ll need to ask for closer supervision.
Managers who use this style of leadership value high performance, excellence and attention to detail. In fact, they’re all about the detail and can even at times take over the work themselves if it doesn’t meet their very high standards. It’s a management style that works well with a highly-motivated team who can keep the pace, but you’re unlikely to receive much coaching or direction from this kind of manager.
These managers are all about developing their staff, helping to identify strengths and improve performance, which means there is a lot of opportunity for career development. They’re the ideal people to share ideas with. They will encourage you to think creatively and are more than willing to provide guidance and advice when you need it. They like to empower their staff by delegating tasks, but will expect you to be committed and involved in return.
Ultimately, if you can identify the management style your manager uses, it makes it easier to manage their expectations, know what is required of you and make sure you’re delivering.
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