Management styles for every situation

Being an effective manager means knowing when to use the right management style. Some styles, for instance, are more people-oriented, while others tend to focus on a project or product. The management style you select will depend on your people’s skills and knowledge, available resources (like time and money), desired results, and, of course, the task before you.

Your job is to select the management style that works best for any given situation. Managing without a specific style geared to a specific set of circumstances can slow you down and even lead to costly mistakes.

Get your people to do their best work by using one or more of the following effective management styles:

1. Participatory Style
Here, it is critical to give each employee an entire task to complete. If that's not possible, make sure the individual knows and understands his or her part as it relates to the project or task. When people on your team know where they fit in the big picture, they're more likely to be motivated to complete the task.

Take the time to explain the details and why their role is important. Get their input on the task and its significance. This will give them a sense of value, and hopefully, encourage them to take ownership of their piece of the project. Do your best to make sure your employees understand the tasks. Ask questions that might seem obvious; the asking alone will reinforce an employee’s understanding of the work.

If your tasks are divided among groups, coordinate each group’s contribution so that everyone knows where and how they fit in. Make a concerted effort to minimize obstacles and difficulties that arise. Let people know that you’re happy to clear their paths so when a problem does arise, you are informed in a timely manner.

Reward not only jobs well done, but motivation as well. This will maintain the momentum and let people know that you have faith in their efforts.

2. Directing Style
Sometimes a situation will call for a direct style of management. Perhaps a tight deadline looms, or the project involves numerous employees and requires a top-down management approach. Here, a manager answers five questions for the employees: What? Where? How? Why? and When? Let them know what they need to do, how they’re going to do it, and when they must be finished.

This style may seem cold and impersonal, but you still have an opportunity to be a motivating and accessible manager. For example, when you assign roles and responsibilities, provide helpful tips or share experiences you encountered with a similar project.

With this style, don’t be afraid to set specific standards and expectations. Your communication, therefore, must be detail-oriented, unambiguous, and free of buzzwords and jargon. You also need to set clear, short-term goals like, “Your goal is to complete three reports a day.”

In addition, be willing and able to make decisions quickly. Midway through a task, for example, you may direct someone to switch from doing one thing to another. Let your people know from the outset that this may occur; it will help them transition more smoothly. Make sure, as well, to reward and recognize jobs well done.

3. Teamwork Style
If you want to expedite a project and optimize a process for completing that project, managing by teamwork is the way to go. When you motivate people to pool their knowledge, the results may exceed your expectations. Often, teams can tackle problems more quickly than what you can accomplish on your own. The give-and-take can create a process that you can replicate in other projects.

Remember that successful teamwork depends on coordinated efforts among the staff, as well as solid communication skills. Reports must be clear and concise. Presentations must convey information that leaves nothing unanswered. Understanding logistics is critical, too. Probably most important, however, is your willingness to credit the team for its success and independence, rather than your savvy management skills.

Indeed, when you get around to employee evaluations, remember to recognize those who were able to collaborate and maintain a team spirit, especially under pressure.


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