Many of my clients over the years have been in positions of management—some very senior positions. I have found that a lot of people get promoted to positions of management who have little or no training in management. Management requires understanding how to get people to get the job done without demoralizing everyone and burning yourself out. No matter how skilled and motivated your staff may be, the reason we have managers is that someone has to coordinate behavior and help people achieve performance goals. When you manage people, you need to keep in mind that however sensitive and fair you try to be, some people won’t like what you say. They just expect people to do their job and not complain and to just leave them alone. But that is not the real world. If you are a manager or work for one, look at the list below and see what seems to fit your experience. And then ask yourself if there is a better alternative.
The Six Management Styles
1. The Judge stands back and judges people from a position of “higher authority.” This manager often complains about the performance of workers only to alienate and demoralize them. The judge just assumes that things will run perfectly and their only response is to pass judgment. The Judge often thinks:
- People should know what to do without my telling them.
- I shouldn’t have to teach them.
- People are either competent or incompetent.
- If they aren’t doing it the right way then they are lazy and incompetent.
- I can motivate them by threatening and punishing them.
2. The Pal tries to be friends with everyone and has difficulty telling people what they don’t want to hear. The Pal may feel like he or she is being fair and egalitarian but staff won’t know what is expected and it may soon deteriorate into confusion and chaos. The Pal wants to be everyone’s friend, so this manager thinks the following:
- I want everyone to like me.
- We’ll get along better if I make everyone happy.
- It’s mean and unfair to tell people that they aren’t doing the job right.
- I should never say anything that someone else doesn’t like to hear.
3. The Micro-manager wants to know everything about everyone all the time and has difficulty delegating authority. They often fear that things will unravel unless they manage every detail, only to undermine any sense of self-respect and initiative of staff members. The Micro-manager is driven by anxiety and anger because he or she believes the following:
- People are not competent and they won’t do the right thing unless I monitor and control everything.
- I need to know everything that is going on or it will fall apart rapidly.
- What I don’t know will hurt us.
- I need to worry to be prepared and to catch things.
- They need to worry about me.
4. The Absentee Manager closes the door and doesn’t want to be bothered. This manager doesn’t like to manage—and would rather avoid any conflict. Without direct feedback the staff don’t know what they should do and they end up following dead-ends that eventually surface when things may be too late. The Absentee Manager believes the following:
- It’s better for me to avoid things than get involved in the day to day work at the office.
- People will get things done and my only role is evaluating the outcome.
- Conflict and giving feedback is unpleasant and I shouldn’t have to do things that are unpleasant.
- Maybe the problems will solve themselves.
5. The Cheerleader encourages the staff when they are doing the right thing, but may have difficulty giving feedback when things aren’t going well. The cheerleader has difficulty exercising authority. The Cheerleader also can be The Pal and can go overboard with positive encouragement because he or she believes the following:
- I need to be positive all the time so that people feel good about their work.
- We have to have good feelings all the time or people will become demoralized.
- I feel good when I am a cheerleader and feeling good at work is my primary goal.
6. The Educator realizes that managing requires—managing. The educator assumes that everyone working on the staff will need corrective feedback that does not humiliate, but helps improve staff performance. The Educator views management as behavioral training which involves being clear about goals, which tasks to accomplish, what performance levels are expected, and ways to improve—along with specific guidelines and a plan. The Educator knows that people will make mistakes—but also that they can learn, since abilities and skills are teachable. The Educator takes a “growth” approach to skills and to staff. The Educator believes that people work best when they know what is expected, that mistakes can be corrected, and that the leader is on the side of improving performance. The Educator believes the following:
- Making mistakes at work is normal.
- Giving corrective feedback doesn’t have to be critical and demeaning.
- I can focus on directing the behavior rather than evaluating the person.
- When people do well it is wise to praise them.
- When they make a mistake it’s important to put it in perspective, accept it as a normal part of working, problem solve with the staff member, and make specific plans for specific improvements.
- It’s better to focus on progress rather than perfection.
- Everyone is capable of learning.
So, now that you have reviewed these six styles—and there are many other styles—ask yourself, “Which manager would you like to work for and why?”