Management Styles: Understanding different styles for more efficient management

Management Styles Interim

Management styles can really impact team productivity. Depending on the way managers plan, organise, delegate, make decisions and manage their staff can be the difference in a successful and not so successful project.

Interim Managers are often expected to quickly affiliate into an organisation, assess issues, implement changes and work with or lead existing teams. Management styles can have a big impact on how a team responds to you, so it is important to understand how particular management styles may impact and influence working relationships, and the success of an interim assignment.

We have assessed some of the key management styles and identified the pros and cons of each. Which style do you think best suits your management style, or which styles have you found particularly helpful or hindering to work with in the past?

Types of Management Styles

Affiliative Management Style – places employees first, with managers concentrating on keeping teams happy – including themselves as part of the team. Promoting harmony and conflict resolution among the team via emotional bonds it can be useful during times of conflict, or when working with a completely new team to build trust. Employees often feel their managers are invested in their well-being which can encourage employee engagement; however, in its attempt to keep a positive working-environment, under-performance can go unchallenged.

Autocratic Management Styles – these can be seen as a controlling style, displaying top-down approach and one-way communication passed down to employees. This style may be effective if deployed in a temporary manner – perhaps in response to crisis management or in situations where a decision is needed quickly, though it can also encourage micro-managing; discouragement of team members having autonomy over their workload and ultimately can lead to team disengagement. Paternalistic, authoritative and persuasive management styles are all versions of autocratic management styles.

Authoritative Management Style – sees managers dictating to the team through clear direction and control, 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 increase staff turnover.

Coaching Management Style – 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. Also – not all employees will want to be developed and not all managers who want to develop others have the skills to be effective and authentic coaches.

Collaborative Management Style – another democratic management style. This 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 – managers will make final decisions after seeking input from all team members. This style can promote trust within teams as well as supporting manager/employee relations and improving problem solving – which could increase acceptance of an interim leading an existing project. However, the style has the potential to indicate favouritism, be time consuming as well as 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 – managers assign tasks and are responsible for successful completion – however, employees are given control over how they complete and undertake tasks. Managers provide advice when work is completed. This style can promote creativity and strengthen problem solving – which can be beneficial for long term effectiveness after the interim assignment concludes. However, the style has the potential to impact team productivity or lack of direction – especially if an interim manager is brought in to undertake a change or transformation role or to lead on a specific project.

Democratic Management Styles – facilitating communication, collaboration, and participation, this style operates two-way communication, 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. Team knowledge is valued and listened to – though it can also create situations where the team may be split in its decision-making process – leading managers to have to step in. This style is likely to be less effective when employees lack experience/knowledge to make informed suggestions, or during times where seeking input from all team members would hinder reaching a quick decision.

Laissez-Faire Management Style – this sees a “hands-off” management approach, staff trusted to control workflow and work without supervision – offering feedback after task completion. This approach can see quick decision making, though could hinder project progress with teams lacking direction.

Pacesetting Management Style – this sees the setting of very high standards based on the managers own drive, achievements, high performance and pace. It can work with short-term objectives where the style can be portrayed as motivating and energising, with high performing and experienced teams often excelling under this style. However, the high pressure can be overwhelming, focusing too heavily on targets and risking team burn-out.

Participative Management Style – a type of democratic management style. Here employees and managers are all part of decision-making processes, with employees encouraged to provide innovative problem solutions. Employees can feel invested in, improving 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 can be a slow process.

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

Persuasive Management Style – another type of autocratic style. Differing from authoritative styles, 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 hasn’t worked previously in the company, or to encourage employees to discuss their views on what will and won’t work, so they continue to feel invested in and engaged.

Transactional Management Style – managers motivate employees via the use of rewards/incentives. Psychological research indicates that this type of extrinsic motivation is not long lasting and could lead to employees basing behaviours on being personally rewarded and not for the overall collective success of the team or project.

Transformational Management Style – managers seen to encourage employees to achieve more, exceed their comfort zones and exceed achievements - this may be useful in interim assignments where increasing team performance is required. The style can lead to employee burn out with team members consistently pushing themselves to achieve more.

Visionary Management Style – managers inspire employees via explaining goals and reasons for decisions. Managers trust employees to deliver workload with minimal supervision, offering both constructive feedback and praise. This style can enable the team to understand goals, increase team motivation and autonomy over work which could be beneficial for lasting effects after the interim assignment. It can also place too much focus on the overall goals, overlooking the day-to-day tasks.  Visionary managers must also believe in their vision to inspire others.


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