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Using the right management style for your business is absolutely essential, yet all too often, businesses fail to consider whether they’re managing their staff in the right way. In the last hundred years, one management style has risen to prominence above all others, which has meant that other management styles, some of which used to be more prominent, are now no longer considered at all.
The most common management style currently in use is, of course, the strict hierarchy, with a manager at the top making the vast majority of decisions. These days, most managers use either an autocratic or consultative approach, sometimes asking employees for their views, but largely making decisions alone.
While this management style has been adopted without question by millions of businesses all around the world, it has been suggested that it may actually not be the best way to create an efficient and productive workplace.
Autocratic and consultative management styles are known to bring about high levels of employee dissatisfaction and disengagement, and as only 13% of employees worldwide feel engaged in their work, this is clearly a huge issue in our current economic climate.
So what alternatives are there to this hierarchical system? Let’s take a look at some different approaches to management that are starting to grow in popularity.
Diplomatic management styles were incredibly common until the 20th century when the rise of capitalism and the authoritative approach made them increasingly rare. Softer diplomatic management is essentially an enhanced version of consultative management in which the manager asks employees for their input on decisions and then actually uses this input in their decision-making process.
Managers who use this style are known as participatory managers and value employees’ input, as well as an environment in which staff work together and make decisions together. The hierarchy of manager over employees still exists, but it’s used more to direct the business and assist in driving things forward rather than to control employee behavior and implement decisions that employees have no control over.
Collaboration may be a growing feature of many workplaces, including Google, but collaborative management styles are still very rare. These managers, sometimes referred to as consensus managers, use staff committees to make decisions that affect the business, as well as a range of collaboration tools to assist with team projects and communication.
In the digital age we live in, software management tools like digital kanban software can help collaborative managers run their businesses more smoothly, as can Google’s range of collaboration tools.
Businesses that really want to commit to a collaborative approach may even become a cooperative, in which every employee is a joint-manager of the business and takes on equal responsibility. This is so radically different to the common hierarchy, though, that it can be difficult for employees to adjust to and requires an unusually high level of commitment from all staff.
A lesser-known management style that also breaks down the boundaries of the autocratic approach is the pace-setting manager who takes on a lot of tasks themselves and leads by example when it comes to quality of work. These managers do not see themselves as being ‘above’ any task. Instead, they aim to set a high standard for employees and expect them to be self-directing.
Although this management style relies a lot on employee motivation and engagement, it can be incredibly effective in specialist fields and often results in high levels of employee satisfaction. Relationships between managers and staff are likely to be positive and involve a great deal of mutual respect, which in turn, drives commitment and productivity.
Workplaces that focus a great deal on professional development often benefit from the coaching leadership style, in which the manager uses their experience and expertise to help their staff grow existing skills and create new ones. Ideal when the manager is a true expert and has a lot to offer their employees, this management style effectively builds a much stronger team who are confident in their skills, good at self-evaluation, and can communicate with each other productively.
In order for this style to work, employees must be motivated and willing to learn, otherwise, the manager’s input is likely to have little effect. The coaching style differs from most other management styles in its focus on staff skills and long-term development.
If your management style doesn’t seem to be working well for your business, consider trying one of these alternative approaches and see if it works better for your employees. Engagement and motivation is always behind successful business growth, so think carefully about which style is right for your staff before you implement something new.