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Management styles are characteristic ways of making decisions and relating to subordinates.
Depending on the author, management styles have been categorized into two main contrasting styles: autocratic and permissive. or the main categories of autocratic, paternalistic, and democratic.
An autocratic management style is one where the manager makes decisions unilaterally, and without regard for even the most talented and experienced subordinates. As a result, decisions will reflect the opinions and personality of the manager, project a false image of a confident, well-managed business, which often hides a chaotic operation. The skilled and competent subordinates chafe because of limits on decision-making freedom, or even being able to do their jobs without constantly seeking permission. The organization stumbles along, and the autocratic manager limits contact between the staff and board, so only "good" information is communicated, so it seems like everything is running smoothly. Subordinates have no encouragement to make improvements, are criticized for any initiatives they take, and turnover among the best subordinates is high.
There are two types of autocratic leaders:
- a directive autocrat makes decisions unilaterally and micro-manages subordinates
- a permissive autocrat makes decisions unilaterally, but gives subordinates latitude in carrying out their work
This style is used, temporarily, in times of crisis where the time for discussion is unavailable and the managers are responsible to give orders only. These orders need to be obeyed immediately by the staff so that further problems are not caused. It is also used in the military and police forces where instructions are given and need to be taken seriously without hesitation.
Drawbacks of autocratic management
The autocrat style negates any form of teamwork. The autocrat refuses to delegate authority, for fear of losing authority. With no new ideas or input, the organization gets stale, and tired. The autocrat is worn thin doing 'everything' since no one is allowed to assist, leading to a false sense of superiority in the autocrat, and a general sense of incompetence of the subordinates. The best and most talented employees are driven away by this negative approach, and only the least talented subordinates are left, creating a lack-luster organization which is completely inflexible, which will crack when the autocrat gets sick or moves on.
A more paternalistic form is also essentially dictatorial. However, decisions do take into account the best interests of the employees as well as the business. Communication is again generally downward, but feedback to the management is encouraged to maintain morale. This style can be highly advantageous when it engenders loyalty from the employees, leading to a lower labor turnover, thanks to the emphasis on social needs. On the other hand, for a consultative management style the lack of worker motivation can be typical if no loyal connection is established between the manager and the people who are managed. It shares disadvantages with an autocratic style, such as employees becoming dependent on the leader. However, having an open door policy can help minimize conflict among employees and empower them to set standards to improve job performance.
A persuasive management style involves the manager sharing some characteristics with that of an autocratic manager. The most important aspect of a persuasive manager is that they maintain control over the entire decision-making process. The most prominent difference here is that the persuasive manager will spend more time working with their subordinates in order to try to convince them of the benefits of the decisions that have been made. A persuasive manager is more aware of their employees, but it would be incorrect to say that the persuasive style of management is more inclusive of employees.
Just as there are occasions where the use of an autocratic management style would be appropriate, there are also instances where a company will benefit from a persuasive management style. For example, if a task that needs to be completed is slightly complicated, it may be necessary to rely upon input from an expert. In such a situation, the expert may take time to explain to others why events are happening in the order in which they will occur, but, ultimately, the way in which things are done will be that person's responsibility. In those circumstances, they are highly unlikely to delegate any part of the decision-making process to those who are lower down in the hierarchy.
Disadvantages of a persuasive style
- There may not be enough or even an entire lack of support from employees for management. Seeing as how the employees will have no input into the decision-making process, they also may not trust the decisions that are made.
- A system that has no input from employees minimises access to one of the most valuable resources that a business has; the ideas of the people who are working on the "front line". As a result, employees will show no initiative, which can reduce productivity.
- One-way communication models are unlikely to be effective when compared to two-way communication.
In a democratic style, the manager allows the employees to take part in decision-making: therefore everything is agreed upon by the majority. The communication is extensive in both directions (from employees to leaders and vice versa). This style can be particularly useful when complex decisions need to be made that require a range of specialist skills: for example, when a new ICT system needs to be put in place, and the upper management of the business is computer-illiterate. From the overall business’s point of view, job satisfaction and quality of work will improve, and participatory contributions from subordinates will be much higher. However, the decision-making process could be severely slowed down unless decision processes are streamlined.
A modern style of management, chaotic management gives the employees total control over the decision-making process. Some companies have adopted this style of management and in return have become some of the most influential and innovative companies.
Laissez-faire management takes a back seat role in the company providing guidance when needed, employees are allowed to let their own ideas and creativity flourish in their specific areas. The manager is looked upon as more of a mentor than a leader.
Management by Walking Around (MBWA)
This article may be unbalanced towards certain viewpoints. (January 2011)
Management by Walking Around (MBWA) is a technique used by managers who are proactive listeners. Managers using this style gather as much information as possible so that a challenging situation doesn’t turn into a bigger problem. Listening carefully to employees’ suggestions and concerns will help evade potential crises. MBWA benefits managers by providing unfiltered, real-time information about processes and policies that is often left out of formal communication channels. By walking around, management gets an idea of the level of morale in the organization and can offer help if there is trouble.
A potential concern of MBWA is that the manager will second-guess employees’ decisions. The manager must maintain his or her role as coach and counselor, not director. By leaving decision-making responsibilities with the employees, managers can be assured of the fastest possible response time.
Disadvantages of MBWA
- There may be enough or even full support from employees for management. Seeing as how the employees will have a lot of input into the decision-making process, they trust the decisions that are made.
- The interactions during rounds are perceived or executed as micro-management style. People skills and emotional intelligence are required for this management style to be beneficial.
- The manager takes ownership of too many issues that surface during the talks. The manager should only intervene when the resolution of the issue is more advantageous to the organization than the employee’s development opportunity to handle the next situation on their own.
MBWA offers the manager an opportunity to interact with employees and offer real time solutions. Any deviation from laid down systems, policies and procedures is timely corrected for prosperity of an organization.
Like consultative and easily confused with autocratic and dictatorial; however, decisions take into account the best interests of the employees as well as the business, often more so than interests of the individual manager. Communication is downward. Feedback and questioning authority are absent as respect to superiors and group harmony are central characteristics within the culture. This style demands loyalty from the employees, often more than to societies' rules in general. Staff turnover is discouraged and rare. Worker motivation is the status quo with East Asians often having the world's highest numbers of hours worked per week, due to a sense of family duty with the manager being the father, and staff being obedient children, all striving for harmony, and other related Confucian characteristics. Most aspects of work are done with a highly collectivist orientation. It shares disadvantages with an autocratic style, such as employees becoming dependent on the leader, and related issues with seniority-based systems.
An Asian Paternalistic style means that the manager makes decisions from a solid understanding of what is desired and best by both consumers and staff. Managers must appear confident, with all answers, and promote growth with harmony, often even if hiding harmful or sad news is required.
- Administrative incompetence
- Management science
- Management system
- Management by objectives
- Management by observation
- Seagull manager, management style
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