Join Britt Andreatta for an in-depth discussion in this video Choosing the right style, part of Management Foundations (2013).
- So which style should you choose? Well, it all depends on your situation. With the exception of the Narcissist, all of the styles can be useful in certain context. While no one individual style is good or bad, a management style can be a good or poor fit for the situation, which determines its effectiveness. Let's start with your natural style of management. Which of the styles is most like you? If you're not sure, ask friends and colleagues for their feedback. It's important to know which style you default to, because that's what you're likely to do under stress.
Ultimately, your natural style may be the fit for some of your employees, and they will thrive under you, but if you want your entire team to thrive, you must be willing to become versed in all of the styles. It's the manager's responsibility to be the chameleon, and change your style to suit the situation. By picking the best style for the situation, you'll maximize the productivity and engagement of your people. To determine which style to use, first assess the skills and attitudes of each of your employees. Consider their job description, and identify the skills or competencies they need to be successful.
Rate their current competence in those skills. Also look at their attitudes. Are they enthusiastic and motivated? Cautious or nervous, or even disengaged and bored? Look at how they get along as a group. Are they cohesive and friendly? Or is there a lot of tension or conflict? Now, you apply combinations of task direction, relationship-building and decision-making to bring out their best. With employees who are new or unskilled, use high amounts of task direction and relationship-building. This will help them learn what they need to do the job, as well start building a positive connection between you.
You'd want to use the director and consultant styles. Over time, as you see evidence that your employees are becoming more skilled and confident, you'll throttle back on task direction as needed and maintain relationship-building. Also now add some decision-making to push their growth and development. Now you don't just hand over a big decision to them, but first start involving them in discussions about decision-making. Begin by seeking their input, and sharing what you're doing and why. As they get the hang of it, then you can let them make some low-risk decisions.
This is when you might want to use the consensus builder and coach styles. Continue to build relationships as you push their skill development with more and more opportunities for decision-making. Once your employees are highly skilled, you can delegate a lot of things to them. At this point, you're providing very little task-direction and even then, it's rare. You're also giving them a lot of autonomy with decision-making, increasing the complexity of projects to keep them challenged and engaged. You can also dial down the relationship-building, as you should have a strong foundation of trust and respect to stand on.
However, be careful that you don't stop relationship-building altogether. Even your top performers still need encouragement and acknowledgement. You'll find that the visionary and delegator styles work well for you here. Especially because as your team grows, you can manage them less and less, allowing you to turn your focus toward leadership and strategy. If you want a great book to guide you through the mini-challenges of management, I highly encourage you to read the book Leading at a Higher Level by Ken Blanchard. It's one of my all-time favorite books and a must-read for managers.
Let me leave you with one more tip. Think of yourself as a habit-changer. Seriously, current developments in neuroscience have revealed new and exciting information about how humans form habits. Habits shape everything we do, from our professional to our personal lives. Every day we engage in habit loops, that have been well-built over time, and in many cases are quite grooved, both behaviorally and neurologically. Think about your own day. Habit is behind your commute to the office, how you behave in meetings, and even how you answer your phone.
When we do behaviors over and over again, they become grooved, and even develop thicker neurological pathways. In fact, research has shown that it takes about 40 repetitions of a behavior before it becomes grooved as a habit, and 66 shows measurably thickening of the pathways. What does this have to do with management? Well, first, as a manager, you have your own habits. Your default management style is one of them. It's well-grooved. If you want to help yourself become better at the other styles, you have to practice them, so they become habits too.
In addition, managing people is largely about helping them form new habits, or better ones. As you give them task direction, or opportunities to make decisions, you're actually helping them develop new habits for working. Effective managers are patient, and allow people time to learn and grow. Knowing that after about 40 repetitions of any new behavior, habits get formed. So play with the six styles, using them based on what's the best fit for the situation. You may even use one style with one employee, and a different style with another. Ultimately, your goal is to bring out the best in your people, and the right choice of management style is how you accomplish this.
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- Choosing a management style
- Hiring employees
- Coaching employees
- Managing team performance
- Establishing trust
- Motivating and engaging others
- Delegating responsibilities
- Avoiding micromanagement
- Managing remote employees
- Knowing HR regulations<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.