Management Styles – Understanding different styles for more efficient management

Management Styles Interim

Management styles immediately impact team productivity, team culture, and employee’s sense of belonging. For this article, Zoe Spalding, Resourcer at Odgers Interim, spoke to some of our interim managers to understand what styles they consider particularly effective for interim and short-term assignments, whilst diving into the different styles to better understand the impact they might have on working relationships.

The way managers plan, organise, delegate, make decisions, and manage their staff can make the difference between a successful or unsuccessful project. As an interim manager it is important to think about how your management style may impact your team and influence working relationships.

In this article, we discuss some of the most common management styles and identify the pros and cons of each in relation to interim management assignments. Which style do you think best suits your management approach and which styles have you found particularly helpful in the past whilst working on an interim project?

Autocratic Management Styles

These approaches can be seen as controlling, displaying top-down behaviour, where one-way communication is passed down to employees. Managers using an autocratic style tend to micro-manage, discourage team members to have autonomy over their workload and ultimately can lead to team dis-engagement. These management styles may be effective if deployed in a temporary manner – perhaps in response to crisis management. Paternalistic, authoritative, and persuasive management styles are all versions of autocratic management styles.

Paternalistic Management Style – A type of autocratic style, this style sees the manager acting in, what they believe to be, the employee’s best interest. Paternalistic managers focus on employee welfare with staff upskilling promoted. This can be a problematic management style, as employees might learn to become dependent on their manager, which is not overly conducive for interim assignments, where interim managers will only lead a team short-term.

Authoritative Management Style – This approach sees managers dictating to the team, not accepting challenges to manager views, as well as micro-management of team performance. This can be effective on a very short-term basis where a client may be responding to a crisis and can be effective if clear boundaries are required between roles or if the team requires high levels of support. However, this style is likely to be poorly received if deployed in interim roles, as it can increase team disengagement and dissatisfaction, as well as lead to a rise in staff turnover.

Persuasive Management Style – Another type of autocratic style, this approach differs from other authoritative styles, as here managers convince employees that their ideas and processes are the best to use. Whilst this may create an initial feeling of trust between managers and employees, it can be stifling for employees to have limited autonomy over their workload and to be unable to openly contribute ideas. This style is also likely to be poorly received in an interim assignment, though at times it could be required, especially if the interim is being brought in as an expert in a particular field. In these circumstances, it may be beneficial to seek an understanding from the team on what has and has not worked previously in the company, or to encourage employees to discuss their views on what will and will not work, so they continue to feel invested in and engaged.

Transactional Management Style – In this approach, which might be considered an autocratic management style, managers motivate employees via the use of rewards or other incentives. Psychological research indicates that this type of extrinsic motivation is not long lasting and could lead to employees basing behaviours in favour of being personally rewarded and not for the overall collective success of the team or project.

Democratic Management Styles

These management approaches display two-way communication, with managers actively promoting employee participation in discussion and decision making, with managers ultimately approving final decisions. This style may lend itself well to interim assignments were team buy-in and support is required. Managers leading with a democratic approach value and listen to input by everyone in the team, although there is a small risk that this might create situations where the team is split in its decision-making process – prompting managers to have to step in.

Participative Management Style – This type of democratic management style sees employees and managers all be part of decision-making processes, with employees encouraged to provide innovative solutions to problems. As a result, employees feel invested in, which can improve innovation and employee engagement. This style may be advantageous in large-scale transformation implementation, where existing employees are resistant to change. Though the style may not suit all interim assignments – especially one when a specific project is needed to be delivered in a quick time frame - as, like consultative styles, it may slow down processes.

Collaborative Management Style – Another example of a democratic management style, this approach harbours an open discussion forum, with a ‘majority-rules’ stance on decision making. Like other democratic styles, this can be a slow process which may not lend itself well to interim assignments.

Consultative Management Style – Employing this approach, managers will make final decisions after seeking input from all team members. This style can promote trust within teams, as well as support manager/employee relations, and improve problem solving, which could increase acceptance of an interim leading an existing project. However, this style has the potential to indicate favouritism, be time consuming, as well as result in a lack of confidence in the manager if they are seen to be relying too heavily on their team members. Especially if they have been brought in as an expert in a particular field.

Delegative Management Style – Leading with this approach, managers assign tasks and employees are responsible for taking initiative for successful completion. Employees are given control over how they complete and undertake the tasks assigned to them, which can make them feel empowered. Managers provide advice when work is completed. This style can promote creativity and strengthen problem solving, which can be a great way to improve long term effectiveness after the interim assignment is concluded. However, this approach also has the potential to impact team productivity and risk a lack of direction, especially if an interim manager is brought in to undertake a change or transformation role or lead on a specific project.

Laissez-Faire Management Style – Similar to the delegative management style, this approach is “hands-off”, and employees are trusted to control workflow, performance, and output without supervision. This approach could hinder project progress and might not lend itself to an interim assignment.

Transformational Management Style – Leading with this approach, managers encourage employees to achieve more, step out of their comfort zone, and exceed previous achievements. This may be useful in interim assignments where increasing team performance is required. There is a small risk, that this style might induce employee burn-out, if team members are consistently pushing themselves to achieve more.

Coaching Management Style – This approach sees managers coach their team, focusing on developing and guiding them, with employees likely to feel valued and engaged. Whilst this is helpful for long-term development or for increasing team capabilities, it may not suit all interim assignments – especially if too much focus is placed on the long-term development and not on short-term projects that may need quick attention.

Visionary Management Style – Often argued to be the most successful management style, a visionary manager inspires employees to follow them by explaining goals and reasons for decisions. Visionary managers trust employees to deliver workload with minimal supervision, offering both constructive feedback and praise. This style can increase team motivation by granting employees autonomy over their own work, which is beneficial for lasting effects, even after the interim assignment has ended and the manager has left. However, visionary managers must truly believe in their vision to inspire others.

If you would like to find out more about the impact of management styles on your teams or assignments, or you would like to have an informal conversation about interim management, please get in touch with Zoe Spalding.


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