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Understanding Management Styles and What Works for You

While many managers have studied business theories, the PhD in management pushes students further to study concepts and theories in management styles. These concepts influence the general work environment, and can provide a foundation to develop personalized or organizational management techniques. Those changes in management styles often are based upon changes in leadership or technological advancements as well as the development of the corporate world as an entity; however, most styles have a common goal — profit. A look at some management styles can help you decide what type of manager you might be, or how the organization you represent manages its business.

Popular Management Styles

    Traditional Management

  1. Autocratic or Authoritarian: This style encompasses top-down management, where one person is in charge without question on this authority. Also known as totalitarianism, or dictatorship, this style forges an atmosphere of discipline. It also eliminates creative space and can cause dissatisfaction among employees. Employees are considered a replaceable resource, and the concept of “employee satisfaction” holds little importance to management. Although this management concept is unpopular in current social atmospheres, it can be effective with quick decisions need to be made, especially during a crisis, or when it becomes necessary to control large numbers of low-skilled workers.
  2. Paternalistic: Although this management style also is top-down and involves one individual, that individual cares more about employees than in outcomes and profit. Therefore, this manager also believes in bottom-up communication. While “employee satisfaction” is important, the manager supplies needs without providing rights and responsibilities. Lack of consistency, making promises that cannot be kept, and avoidance of negative situations can be downfalls for this type of management concept.
  3. Democratic: In this management style, the manager allows employees to voice opinions and takes those opinions into consideration. This management style also incorporates an “open door” policy to ensure that management and employees communicate both ways. Usually, management voices options and solicits employee feedback, which can look friendlier and can reduce conflicts. The downside is the decisions made may not be best for company, because staff may not have enough knowledge about business. Also, this type of management style can be time-consuming.
  4. Laissez-faire: The opposite of micromanagement, laissez-faire management often can create chaos. Rather than trying to control every detail, the laissez-faire manager allows employees to make most of the decisions on their own. This management style can create “ownership” feelings among staff and lower management, which can lead to success. It also can free the manager for other details. However, this management style also can create issues of disorganization and discontent among employees who might seek leadership to resolve conflict issues.
  5. Servant Leadership: Developed by Robert K. Greenleaf (1904-1990), this management style focuses on humble managers who are extremely talented at tapping into an organization’s expertise. The highest priority of a servant leader is to encourage, support and enable subordinates to unfold their full potential and abilities. This type of leadership style could lead to high employee identification with an enterprise, leading to the development of a corporate culture. However, there are few leaders who can fulfill the attributes required in this management style.
  6. Management by Walking Around (MBWA): Dave Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, developed this management style which believes in the manager walking around the office and interacting with the employees. Managers using this style to gather as much information as possible so that a challenging situation doesn’t turn into a larger problem. MBWA benefits managers by providing unfiltered, real-time information about processes and policies that is often left out of formal communication channels. A potential concern of MBWA is that the manager will second-guess employees’ decisions. One downside is that MBWA poses the threat of the manager losing authority as the employees feel that they can run the business.

Organizational Management Styles

    Women in Management

  1. Management by Coaching and Development (MBCD): The manager becomes a coach in this style, creating a learning experience for employees. This is a popular style currently, as it moves people to the jobs that fit them, and encourages them to succeed. In this situation, skills required to succeed in a given role must be clearly defined.
  2. Management by Competitive Edge (MBCE): The concept of healthy competition is necessary for this management style. All employees are encouraged to compete with each other in this environment, with the help of rewards and recognition strategies that honor the winners. This style is giving way to the prior style, which encourages all employees to do their best as a team.
  3. Management by Consensus (MBC): Similar to democratic management methods, this style encourages employees to buy into a group solidarity or sentiment. Decision-making becomes a political process instead of a merit-based process with the pace and outcome controlled by the least flexible and most obdurate participants. Many observers today believe that this type of management degrades decision quality at the business level, because the goal becomes identifying a solution that is the least offensive to all stakeholders rather than choosing the course of action that is most beneficial to the enterprise.
  4. Management by Decision Models (MBDM): This is a popular military style of management, where decision models are prepared from hypothetical situations in order to serve as a precedent. This kind of a plan of action can work many a time; however, in case of a contingency, it would fail.
  5. Management by Exception (MBE): In this management style, the concept of delegation is highly regarded. Each manager delegates as much responsibility and authority down the line as far as possible, and steps in only when difficulties arise, or at the endpoint as the responsible person. This type of management can be powerful when it is necessary to process lots of data in order to make managerial decisions. The problem with this policy is that it can result in myopic behavior within lower management as they can concentrate only on assigned tasks.
  6. Management by Information Systems (MBIS): This management style, also known as Information Systems Management, is based upon results generated from a database. This style can provide effective analysis of a situation, and can increase efficiency. While the computerized model can make decision-making processes more efficient, the danger lies in losing track of the human aspect in the process.
  7. Revenue ManagementManagement by Matrices (MBM): Also known as Matrix Management, this style consists of decisions and policies made with reference to charts and variables that show how to build teams based upon similar work patterns. This style can allow for specialization that can increase depth of knowledge across teams. However, employees can become confused with conflicting loyalties, because this process is not project-oriented, and projects can become difficult to monitor if teams are expected to maintain independence.
  8. Management by Organizational Development (MBOD): This management style is similar to the popular paternalistic management style in that managers work on improving communication — the difference is that management takes profit into account. Also known as “change management,” this style is an ongoing, systematic process of implementing effective organizational change.
  9. Management by Performance (MBP): Performance management puts emphasis on organizational effectiveness by developing the capacity to perform and by rating that performance. Profitability becomes a derivative of performance. This management is similar to management by competitive edges, as rewards and recognition are key elements, but the entire organization also is rewarded with higher profits and teamwork recognition.
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