Managing people is like herding cats; each individual has their own plans for what they want to do. As a manager, your job is to lead a team towards a universal goal while taking into account that each person is driven by different goals, needs and ideas.
This isn’t an easy task by any stretch of the imagination and like any skill it takes time to develop your management style. In a lot of cases, people get promoted into management roles without really knowing how to properly manoeuvre a team, and the wide array of styles, attitudes, motivations, strengths and weaknesses therein. However, by recognising your own style, you’ll be better equipped to deal with the challenges that get thrown at you.
We all have innate ways in which we deal with people, but it’s important for managers – particularly in smaller teams with only a handful of leaders – to be aware of their personal tendencies, and the benefits and disadvantages attached. In order to be most effective, you need to know when to adopt a different mode of dealing with people, or when to ask someone else to step in.
Directive managers want people to do exactly what they tell them to, and exert a lot of discipline on their employees. This can be good in a crisis when people need quick, decisive instructions, but directive managers often stifle the potential of employees who are still learning, and highly-skilled employees can find their micro-management style very frustrating.
Make It work
Directive managers should make an effort to notice when they are pushing people too hard, when people begin to be demotivated, and also to keep an eye out for those who may need development and struggling. If you feel unable to do this, appoint a team member to fulfil this supportive role.
Authoritative managers are all about the big picture and the wider company vision, and offer employees a lot of long-term direction. This works well when the authoritative manager is authentic, genuine and employees believe in their long-term goals, but runs into problems if they fail to convince employees of the validity of the path ahead. Employees can sometimes feel a little lost with this kind of manager, if they don’t break down the long-term tasks into achievable day-to-day goals.
Make It Work
Realise that some people need more instruction to help them shine, and actively ask your team what they need in order to support. Try not to get lost in long-term planning, and try to break down your plans into day-to-day tasks that people can accomplish.
Affiliative managers want to be everyone’s friend, and they work hard to make their environment a harmonious place. They prioritise people, and try to minimise conflict where they can. These managers are excellent at mediation and people management, but often struggle to delegate orders or when they feel they might upset someone.
Make It Work
Affiliative managers shine when they work in tandem with someone who can set out clear objectives. Make sure that you’re not smothering employees by being overly-helpful, and also that you’re not being taken advantage of. If you don’t have someone to support you in setting goals, then try to take some time apart to organise yourself before presenting the objectives to the team.
Participative managers encourage people to work together, are eager to get input from their employees, and like to reward team efforts. In an environment where staff are able and experienced, and teams are working towards a unified goal, this kind of manager is in their element. They struggle when there is a crisis as they have to make quick decisions without the input of their team.
Make It Work
While your dedication to democracy is admirable, you need to force yourself to make authoritative decisions sometimes and to stick to them. If you feel that you need time to develop this ability, then work with a team member to set up a quick system for decision-making that won’t slow you down.
Pacesetters don’t want to tell people what to do. Instead, they want to get into the mix and drive performance through their own high-quality accomplishments. They won’t make anyone do what they wouldn’t be prepared to do themselves, but they expect the same high-performance from everyone. They work best in situations where the entire team is highly skilled and capable of self-direction. They are less competent when it comes to coordination, persuasion, or when they need to delegate a task to others.
Make It Work
Slow down! Be aware that not everyone on your team will be able to work at the same break-neck speed and may feel overwhelmed by your expectations. Unless you’re in a position in which you can manage a team of experts, force yourself to stop working every once in a while to take the temperature of your team. Set up a system of supports for people who need a little help occasionally.
People with a coaching style of management prioritise the long-term professional development of their employees, and seek out ways to support their teams in order to help them enhance their strengths. They work best when their employees are eager to learn and develop their skills, but struggle with demotivated poor performers. They may stay focused on coaching someone who is unmotivated to do so.
Make It Work
Coaches have admirable goals for team development, but it’s often best when they work in tandem with more directive styles of management in order to get the most from their teams. Learn to recognise when people simply do not want to grow in a position, and set up a process that enables you to make quick decisions in the least stressful way possible.
By getting a handle on your own style, you’ll quickly learn to recognise the tendencies of others, where you need to pick up the pace, when you need to take a gentler approach, and how your team might respond best.