No matter what you do for a living, you have most likely either had a manager, or been a manager, or perhaps both. Managing people is both an art and a science, and it’s absolutely essential that someone in every environment takes that role. Also, understanding your management style and others with make you more effective.
There are many different styles of management. Every manager has one they favor, and great managers have learned to tailor the management style used to the people being managed. Some styles are more people-oriented while others focus on a project or product. Learning to identify your preferred management style and how to select the style that best suits each situation will help you be more efficient and effective.
Read on for descriptions of three common management styles and how you can best use them.
Three Effective Management Styles
1. Participatory Style
A participatory style can be a very effective way for everyone involved to feel involved and inspired. This is a common management style in situations where there’s not a clear hierarchy and where no hierarchy is needed. To make the participatory style work best for your purposes, give each participant an entire task to complete. Let them know that they are responsible for that task, and tell them how that task fits into the bigger project or goal. When people know where they fit in the big picture, they’re more likely to be motivated to complete the task.
You’ll need to take a bit of time, in the beginning, to explain to each person how and why their role is important. When you ask for their input on the task and its significance, they’ll have a greater sense of value and ownership for their piece of the project. It’s often helpful to ask the participant questions about their task, even if the questions seem obvious. By asking them, you’ll be reinforcing their value and understanding of the work.
Be sure to reward not only jobs well done, but each individual’s motivation, as well. This will maintain the momentum and let participants know that you believe in them.
2. Directing Style
Odds are good you’ve worked with someone who used a directing style of management, which is sometimes referred to as an authoritarian style. In the wrong hands, this style can seem cold and impersonal and be off-putting to others. But, used appropriately, it can instill confidence in other participants, as they are assured that the person in charge is ready and willing to lead.
There are some situations where a directing style of management is absolutely necessary, such as when a project is time-sensitive or involves a large number of people. A directing style of management quickly and clearly answers five critical questions for the participants: Who? What? When? Where? Why? And How? With the answers they need, participants feel reassured that the project will progress exactly as it should.
When you’re using this style, don’t be shy about setting specific standards and expectations. Speak clearly, confidently, and without jargon. It’s often helpful to set and communicate unambiguous short-term goals, such as: “You need to complete three reports a day.”
Directing style managers should also be willing and able to make decisions quickly. This style works because the people you’re managing trust your judgment, so don’t be afraid to use that judgment.
3. Teamwork Style
Some people love working on teams, some people hate it. But teamwork makes the dream work when you want to expedite a project and accomplish more than you ever imagined. A strong team, working together, pooling their knowledge and abilities, can do much more, much faster than a group of individuals working alone.
Successful teamwork depends on communicating clearly and coordinating efforts. Because the effort is shared, it’s important that praise is shared, too. Make sure you point out what each team member is doing well and that you praise the combined efforts of the team.
All of this begs this question, which style is the best? Actually, there is no best style. The best management style will vary with the nature of the project, the personalities and capabilities of the persons involved, their levels of experience and values, and other factors.
So, which one should you use?
All of them. Really. You should use them all. You may lean on your preferred style the most, but the best leaders and managers often use more than two or three of these management styles at any one time, varying them depending on the circumstances and the individual they’re managing. There is no limit to how many styles can be employed by one manager, and the best managers switch styles frequently.