Types of Management Styles

Successful management ensures that a business or organization fulfills its tasks and achieves its objectives. Since there are so many different types of people and so many different styles of management, it would be wrong to say that any one style of management is best. Much depends on a good fit between the manager and those who report to him or her. The type of business is also important, as is whether the business is fast-paced and deadline driven or more laid back. Successful management is definitely not a one-size-fits-all proposition.

Many people are familiar with the classic “Management by Objectives” or MBO...

approach, which first became popular in the 1950s. This is simply a process where the manager and employees agree on objectives and understand their role in the business or organization. MBO involves comparing the employees’ performance with the standards that have been set. The idea is, if employees are involved with setting goals and choosing courses of action, they are most likely to successfully fulfill their responsibilities.

Some management scholars contend that the style of leadership in an organization depends upon the prevailing circumstances. Therefore, the theory goes, leaders should be capable of using different management styles as appropriate. For example, autocratic managers make the decisions and expect them to be carried out. They may or may not closely supervise the employees. Autocratic managers may project an image of an organization that is competent and well-managed. If they do their job poorly, or think that bullying is an effective management style, they’ll eventually alienate their employees, who are likely to look for better opportunities elsewhere.

Another management style is Democratic, where employees participate in decision making and communications between employees and management and vice versa are open. While this can be useful in situations where a range of specialized skills are needed, it can slow decision-making down and lead to stagnation and an unwillingness to take responsibility.

A style of management that became prominent in the late 1980s and 1990s was dubbed Management by Walking Around, and it involved managers listening carefully to their employees to diffuse potential problems, preferably in real time. The theory is that managers can gain a good understanding of employee morale and address issues before they become unmanageable. Problems may arise, however, of managers forgetting their primary role of making sure that the organization meets objectives on time and within budget.

Management fads come and go, but what can be found consistently is that certain types of organizations do well with a particular management type, but other organizations need another management style for full effectiveness. For example, a group of creative people, such as a graphic design department, may wilt under autocratic management, but may do fine working with managers who have a more laissez-faire (hands off) approach.

Most managers adapt naturally to one or two management styles, but may flounder when forced to use a different style. The best management is that which is well-suited to the employees and their tasks, as well as being suited to the personality and experience of the manager.

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