How Good Are You At Managing Others?
One of the most successful traits of a business manager is the ability to manage people. The basic role of a manager is to get things done through others, and as such, the manager is only as good as the people under his or her authority. The motivation and the efficiency of the workforce depend largely on the manager managing them the right way.
The most appropriate management style depends on the innate characteristics of the people being managed. In this, Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y, expounded in the 1960’s, hold relevance even today.
Theory X holds that the average person dislikes work inherently, and tries to avoid it, as much as possible. The role of the manager in such a context is to control and threaten the workers to do as required.
Theory Y is the other side of the spectrum, holding that the role of the manager is to develop the innate potential in employees and help them direct it towards common goals. The manager’s primary task is to motivate the employee to realise their potential in a way that would further the organisational ends.
The Different Management Styles
Managers manage people through many styles and approaches.
The authoritative management style bases itself on Theory X. The authoritarian manager directly supervises their subordinates, to ensure that they follow the stated down rules and regulations, by rote. They maintain a professional and formal relationship with their subordinates. While this management style is considered old-school, it still has its uses in certain areas, where following instructions diligently and to the minute detail is of extreme importance, or when the workforce is low in skills and competence to take the initiative or work independently.
A watered-down approach to the authoritarian style of management is the persuasive approach. Persuasive managers set the agenda unilaterally, the same way as authoritarian mangers do, but rather than dictate terms, they try to persuade or convince the subordinates, the benefits of following the dictated course of action.
Laissez-Faire managers are the anthesis of autocratic mangers, and complements Theory Y. Such managers give considerable autonomy to their subordinates, very often communicating to them what is required and leaving them to achieve the same in their own way. The manager intervenes only to the minimum extent required. This management style works best when the workforce is highly skilled, achievement-oriented and motivated.
Participative or democratic managers strike a balance between the authoritarian and laissez-faire managers, and again complement Theory Y. Such managers take the rank-and-file into confidence when preparing objectives, and value feedback. They also guide the subordinates actively in pursuing their goals, very often involving directly in the accomplishment of tasks. However, at the same time, such managers offer considerable working autonomy as well, intervening only when required. With such an approach, the workforce gets a sense of belonging and is motivated to perform better.
Another management style that has traits of all the above approaches is the transactional style. Such managers follow a “telling style,” and motivate their subordinates by touching on their self-interest, and also through a system of rewards and punishments. They actively monitor their subordinates, but intervene only when required.
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