Which Management Style Is Right For Your Workforce?

positive management styles in action

When it comes to motivating your employees, management styles can make all the difference. After all, even the best managers don’t have enough hours in the day to give their employees as much time and attention as they require. 

But, by choosing the right management style for every occasion, it’s possible to help keep that great corporate culture, make employees feel well-managed and well-led while using time more wisely.

How do your employees currently feel? Download our employee survey template to get a proper read on your organization today.

What Does It Mean To Be ‘Bad’ At Management?

You may have heard the saying “People don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers.” But what makes for a bad boss? Could it be their management style? It’s quite possible.

That said, calling a boss good or bad is a subjective practice. In general, though management styles that are unclear, subjective, biased, lack clear feedback, and don’t offer praise when it’s due are often ineffective at best. 

Quite often, these generic ‘bad bosses’ fail because they commit the cardinal sin of using a management style that is wrong for the situation, their individual employees, or corporate culture.

Why Do Management Styles Matter?

Today, managers need to be more than just delegators. It’s no longer good enough for people to only know how to do their job, they also want to know why they are doing it. In other words, they need a sense of purpose.

This is why managing a team can be challenging at times. It’s important for leaders to motivate every team member to willingly work towards one goal, i.e. a shared purpose. 

A good place to start is by identifying and communicating your company’s core values. As we describe in this blog post on corporate values, company culture is not something that happens overnight.

It takes time, but it also takes thought and strategy. However, when corporate culture aligns with management styles and employee expectations, magic can happen!

Different Management Styles: Pros and Cons

Management styles are not often a conscious choice. But, they can be worked toward. We have put together a list of different management styles, summarized by Indeed, below.

We have also included some pros and cons for each style. This way, you can choose the most appropriate one for your corporate culture:

AutocraticThis style is generally used in high-pressure environments where managers need absolute compliance. They make all the decisions and do not typically request feedback from employees.his style is very effective when the job needs to be done quickly and efficiently. There’s no room for guessing (or error) as employees know exactly what is expected of them. Employees may feel unheard and grow tired of not having a voice.
ConsultativeConsultative managers tend to motivate their employees through persuasion and feedback. They often have an open-door policy and consult with employees but ultimately retain decision-making power.This style often leads to higher employee loyalty as team members feel their opinions are heard and their input is valued. More people are involved in making decisions, so this could potentially lead to misunderstandings based on differing viewpoints or delays to decision-making or action.
DemocraticThis management style requires decisions to be made by a majority. Effective and open communication is crucial here as all levels of the organization have equal input in how to reach their goals. This style is highly effective when planning for the future and making important long-term decisions. As decision-making involves many parties and potentially many debates, it can take quite some time to reach consensus on how to move forward.
Laissez-faireLaissez-faire leaders believe in autonomy and prefer to act as mentors. They guide their employees in the right direction as opposed to instructing them what to do. This style is very popular in creative fields where employees ‘need space’ to work. Employees need to be highly self-motivated for this management style to work well.
PersuasivePersuasive managers are in control of decision-making, but unlike autocratic leaders, take the time to explain their decisions and actions to their employees.Employees are kept in the loop at all times. Team members do not generally have an avenue to give feedback and influence decisions.
Transformational This style is about creating an environment that supports innovation and change. In the tech industry, for example, managers use this style to help them adapt constantly to the ever-evolving market. People in competitive industries may use this style if they thrive on constant change. Employees may, at times, feel overwhelmed by big and quick changes.

Download Now: Change Management Guidelines

Looking to make a change in your organization beyond your management style? Download our Change Management Guidelines, for free, to learn more.

Corporate Culture and Leadership

Over time, managers may encounter, and use, many management styles. Various factors influence which style to use, including industries, targets, and the volume of work. In addition to, and as mentioned earlier, the preferred working style, personalities, and attitudes of employees.

However, the management styles your leaders choose to use at specific points in time are determined, to a large extent, by your corporate culture.    

Should Your Management Styles Change?

Management styles are never static. For example, in organizations where change is necessary, a transformational style might be required temporarily.

Managers leading employees through change might also have to use a persuasive style. They may also need to switch between a consultative management style and an autocratic one. It all depends on the stage of change.

The challenge is to choose the right management style that allows you to show great leadership and get the most out of your employees. All within the context of your corporate culture.

What Are Common Challenges Of Management Styles?

Challenges often arise when management styles don’t match up with corporate culture. Or, when leaders are not able to identify the challenges that a specific management style might create. 

Here are a few tips on how to overcome the challenges (in the familiar format of the 5Ws) that might be facing the managers at your company…

Who – the different personalities

We are all different. We have different needs and goals. And these vary, depending on different environments, contexts, and situations. However, great managers realize the importance of both using (and changing) their management styles to empower and motivate their employees appropriately. 

What – the task individuals are required to undertake

People are good at different things. Great managers make sure that, wherever possible, their employees are allocated the tasks they can do most easily and effectively. This democratic approach instills confidence and boosts employee satisfaction. In a collaborative environment, good leaders should always encourage their employees to play to their strengths. 

When – the time of day, week, or year

We all have times of peak productivity. For example, employees might be more stressed towards the end of a quarter, so managers might have to balance the need for an autocratic style (“Get things done now!”) with a consultative one (“Where can I help you, so this gets done?”).

Where – the context: working from home or in the office

Bear in mind that the location of where an employee engagement takes place will affect how it is perceived. In a pandemic world where the majority of us are working from home, informal communication methods (or the lack thereof) are a hot topic. 

It’s also important to realize that employees working remotely may need additional motivation, regular check-ins, or different management tactics to help keep them on track amidst life’s distractions. Alternatively, they might actually need to be reminded to leave their desk and not work so many hours.

Why – the purpose 

Some employees need more or less background information or context to help them know what they’re doing and why. Be sure to use the appropriate management and communication style to help people feel like they have the right level of information to help them do their jobs. 

Now that you are familiar with several management styles that can be used to match your corporate culture, how do you decide which style is appropriate for your team?

Download Now: Our Guide To Corporate Culture

As we mentioned, your management style is often a reflection of your culture. Or, it can have a lasting effect on your culture. Download our guide to setting the tone at your company today. 

Action Steps: Start with Theory X and Theory Y

Management theorist, Douglas McGregor, is credited with the origin of the Theory X and Y approach to motivation. It’s broken down along the same lines as a carrot/stick approach to management.      

Management theorist, Douglas McGregor, is credited with the origin of the Theory X and Y approach to motivation. It’s broken down along the same lines as a carrot/stick approach to management.      

It may help to think of the two approaches like this: in a Theory X model, managers assume that people are lazy, ignorant, or don’t want to work. So they adopt an authoritarian style and favor control over freedom and flexibility.

However, in today’s day and age, we tend to assume that people are inherently self-motivated. When we take this, Theory Y, approach we use management styles that treat employees as assets (rather than liabilities).

A Theory Y view goes hand-in-hand with an open, discursive corporate style and management styles tend to focus on motivating employees to be motivated, rather than controlling them. This view aligns with what American businessman Lee Iacocca once said: “Management is nothing more than motivating other people.”

Understanding What Motivates People

According to Management is a Journey the top five workplace motivators in recent years are: 

  • Challenging Work
  • Recognition
  • Employee Involvement
  • Job Security
  • Compensation

Interestingly, money is not even one of the top three motivators! 

Although the order of these may differ across companies and teams, managers should certainly be aware of why their people ‘show up’ every day and choose and adapt their management styles accordingly. For example, if you come to realize your team is motivated by employee involvement, a democratic approach may work best for you. 

As a brief rule of thumb, if you categorize people into their preferred working style, it’s easier to identify which management style is likely to resonate with them and be more effective. 

Management Styles at Performance Review Time

Also, recall that employees will respond more or less effectively to the feedback they’re given and how it’s given during staff appraisals, so it’s sensible to vary management styles here, if possible. For example – as we cover in the checklist above – some employees may prefer a more structured approach and do better if they are able to prepare as far in advance as possible. Others are really motivated by recognition, and do better when they’re consulted fully.

Retaining Your Top Talent

Regardless of which management style you choose to use, it’s important to be aware of the impact it has on your employees and how well you manage to retain them.

One may argue the solution to having a motivated workforce and avoiding high employee turnover is hiring the right people in the first place (in other words, people with aligned values and the appropriate skillset). While this is true, the digital age has definitely changed the way we live and work. People don’t want or need to be in the same job for ten years. Physical location is no longer a factor, either. 

So, how do you retain your top talent in a more diverse market? By paying close attention to the things that keep them motivated. It may be something as simple as recognizing their expertise and efforts and making them feel valued. Or it might be as simple as adjusting your preferred management style to meet their needs as often as you can.

For information on key strategies to follow to retain your best people, read our article on employee retention.

The Biggest Challenge of All: Time

At the end of the day, though, the biggest challenge that most managers and leaders face is a desperate shortage of time. Many managers believe that if they had more time to focus on management, they could do a better (or more profitable) job.

So, help them get more time back in their day by making sure the routine tasks relating to hiring, maintaining, and documenting an employee’s working life are stored in a single system that makes it easier to work and gives everyone more time back in their day.

Book a personalized Personio web demo to see how an HR information system can help you get the time you need. And get more time back in your day to help your managers to use the right management styles that fit your corporate culture.

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