Types of Workplace Management Styles

Management style is the art of getting the whole labor force into one unified group working together to achieve a goal. It is the way an organization manages its workforce and their roles and responsibilities. Management styles are key to making decisions and relating to these workers so that the group achieves its objective. Because the leaders or managers play vital roles in an organization, they are expected to strengthen bonds among employees, ensuring their optimum performance and satisfaction with their work.

The styles differ among groups and businesses, depending on the organization’s structure and goals, and the number of employees and the work routines they are asked to carry out. For the most part, the management styles implemented are largely based on the workplace culture. That being said, it is important that the management style brought to the workplace has a big impact of the productivity, efficiency and contentment of the employees. This is why choosing the best way to go must first mean knowing the different workplace management styles.

1. Autocratic

This management style has authoritarian managers who take the reins of leadership unilaterally. Consultations are absent and decisions are solely from the management and are largely based on their expertise, experiences and opinions. The company policies are based on what the superiors feel is right, and the employees follow what instructions.

Understandably, this management style does not sit well with the subordinates, even with the advantage that decisions are quickly made and acted on. There is less input from the employees and when there are faults in the work processes and output, the manager is largely responsible. Autocratic management also results in loss of motivation in the workforce. An autocratic style of management only works well with industries with an unskilled workforce and large turnover. Examples would be retail businesses and food services where employees are dependent on their managers’ decisions.

2. Democratic

As opposed to the previous management style, the democratic way is where superiors actually encourage and take into consideration the feedback, opinions and ideas from the subordinates. Commitment is built quickly in the workforce because everyone has input and team efforts are often rewarded in this management method. The competencies and potentials of employees greatly contribute to the efficiency and growth of the organization. Discussions of issues and solutions are common and there is a healthy communication between employees and the management. This management style is particularly helpful in industries where employees are highly skilled and have certain fields of expertise. A good example would be the IT industry where many employees specialize in certain fields.

The downside, however, is that involvement of too many people in the decision-making process or having too many opinions during discussions tends to delay getting things done. Also, some employees may feel the bulk of work is being passed on to them by the management. The democratic process is also ineffective in times of crisis and when the workforce is so big and diverse that coordination is a challenge.

3. Laissez Faire

In this particular workplace management style the employees are given complete freedom to do the tasks or projects on their own. The managers simply motivate and act as mentors, but they have very minimal supervision over the workforce. Yes, the manager is present to guide and provide answers to the employees’ questions, but superiors are basically hands-off in terms of direction and specific actions.

Often the workforce is grouped into specific divisions and then left alone to accomplish their job according to how they see fit. This management style, then, is very effective in organizations where employees are highly professional and have strong motivation. Laissez faire actually helps develop the potential of the workers and their ingenuity, initiative and creativity. However, this style of management also paves way for conflicts within the employees as they grapple for leadership within the group.

4. Management By Walking Around (MBWA)

To carry out this management technique requires the superiors to be very skilled listeners and good communicators. Managers actually consider themselves a vital part of the team instead of just giving directions to achieve targets. They are expected to be mentors and provide guidance to the workers, and they are frequently present where actual work is being carried out. As MBWA involves regular interaction with employees, they can observe first-hand how they carry out their work, the efficiency of processes and all other aspects of production.

The concern with management by walking around is that employees sometimes see this as a micro-management style where they constantly have someone looking over their shoulder. For the leaders, it could also turn out that they are taking in too many issues at a time, as they are present often in the workplace. When problems arise, they must then intervene to come up with resolutions and decisions. This lessens the opportunities for employee development, particularly in handling specific issues on their own as a group.

Coaching and pacesetting are also considered workplace management styles, but are often used together with the top four methods. While effective in developing workforce potential and performance, coaching would be difficult to implement in times of crisis. It would not work when a manager lacks expertise and is comparatively new to the organization. Also, coaching would be an insufficient style when performance or production discrepancy is too big. On the other hand, pacesetting as a management style is more of “leading by example”. While it aims to accomplish tasks to the highest quality, it could only prove useful in a workplace where employees are highly competent, motivated and can work independently. When workload requires support from others and where training, development and coordination are needed, pacesetting is least effective.

In truth, there is really no best workplace management style. As leadership is a very complicated issue, there is no single way to go about managing a whole organization. It is all about finding which is best suited for the type and structure of the organization, and the specific targets and requirements. The key, then, is to employ which is closest to the best method, and integrate one more or two styles where deemed fit. Remember that situations change even as the organization’s goals remain, and there would be times when combining workplace management styles would be necessary.