Finding Your Style
Being a member of management is challenging, there’s no doubt about it. How should you lead your team? What’s the best way to increase efficiency while keeping the members of your team satisfied and motivated to work?
The short answer is, there is no short answer. There are many different things to take into account when figuring out what style of management is going to be most successful for you and your company. For example, how much work needs immediate attention, and what kind of personalities do you and the members of your team have? It’s also important to think about the type of business you are managing in.
Let’s go over 3 of the most effective management styles: authoritarian, affiliative, and democratic, and how each can be beneficial to your business.
Authoritarian Management Style
As the name suggests, this is a more aggressive management style. This style can be helpful in certain situations, but as of about 100 years ago, you aren’t going to have much of a following if you always boss everyone around. Often referred to as Autocratic, the leader of the group is in control of all aspects. Rules are enforced with little or no feedback from the team members. All of the decisions are created by the leader with a goal of simply getting the job done.
There are some situational benefits to this style, and can be useful to have in your leadership toolbox. If a task or set of tasks have a fast approaching deadline, setting very clear expectations in order to meet that deadline may be the best course. There might simply not be enough time to discuss the tasks at hand further. Often times in small businesses, the available staff is small, and time critical jobs will approach quickly. In these situations, management may need to simply put their foot down and lay out an exact plan to complete the work in the time available.
Additionally, this style can be applicable for novice team members. Newer employees may still be unfamiliar with the larger goals of the company, and still need some guidance on properly prioritizing tasks. In these situations, it’s wise for management to list a clear plan for these employees to help them familiarize themselves with exactly how the company operates. This can help the employee learn while still providing their available skill set to the company.
Affiliative Management Style
Affiliative leaders love to keep their employees happy, and aim to build relationships throughout the company. They take pride in leading by joining in and working directly with the team on various tasks, lending a hand wherever necessary, all while building stronger connections throughout the team.
At times an affiliative mindset can be a great help. Sometimes, people disagree with each other, and this will no doubt happen at some point with any team of employees. In situations like this, having a leader to come in and tend to the wounds can prevent the feelings worsening between the team. Through motivation and an overwhelmingly positive attitude, the affiliative manager will join in and try to help mediate the situation in order to get the team back on track.
An affiliative manager will always reward employees. Positive feedback come with a job well done, encouraging a healthy mindset and motivation to continue working hard. This provides employees with a sense of belonging, and will result in them seeing the manager as an ally to them. In turn, team members will often return to the manager whenever problems arise or questions need answering, which means the manager is more connected to exactly what goes on in the workspace.
It’s worth noting that an affiliative style should be part of a greater management style, and not used by itself. A completely affiliative management style may result in members of the team slacking off more, knowing that their manager will come in and fix problems for them without any repercussions. Employees may also be used to constantly receiving positive feedback even if they aren’t providing their best work, and start to think that mediocre performance is sufficient. This can result in overall poor performance and negatively affect quality of life rapidly if left unchecked.
Democratic Management Style
A democratic manager is one that is open and dynamic. They allow all members of the team to have a voice, and often collaborate on tasks with everyone working on them. Discussions flow freely through the team and decisions are made as a whole, with everyone’s opinion in mind.
Fast moving companies can benefit greatly from a democratic management style. When things are always changing, any chance to improve or streamline operations needs to be voiced and discussed. Allowing employees to be part of the conversation can help, as they are most involved in the job being completed. A democratic leader will be able to hear all ideas and translate them into the best decision for the company, and then be able to give that decision back to the employees.
A democratic leader is most effective in an experienced and professional work environment. This will allow all members of the team to bring their expertise to the table and collectively put the right plan in action. Many times, an experienced employee will prefer to be in a democratic situation, where they are actually heard rather than simply expected to follow explicit direction.
There is a slight downside to this management approach, however. When everyone has a voice in every task at hand, it can slow things down. Often times, different team members will have different approaches to the same task. Taking the time to hear them all and then decide on the best route to take can bring things to a halt, and in certain situations there may simply not be enough time. That is why again, this should be one of the many tools in your theoretical box of management skills.
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