The Primary Management Styles and How to Use Them

Management styles are ways of making decisions and relating to subordinates. There are many theories concerning the management styles and many categories, such as permissive and autocratic, or paternalistic and democratic. The most efficient managers vary their style depending on the employee’s level of knowledge and skills, time constraints and the nature of the task. A management style greatly influence the employee’s capacity to learn and motivation. By adopting an appropriate leadership style, you can encourage and inspire workers to do their best at all times. This article focuses on three basic concepts derived from the Situational Leadership Theory Model and how or when to use them.

The Directing Style

The Directing style aims to teach employees through listening and following the manager’s indications. This is one of the management styles in which communication is predominantly one-way. The manager provides employees with verbal or written instructions and the only feedback he wants is about the clarity of the information. Coaching happens when there is a need for change. The manager may give directions for improving the behavior of the employee. Decision-making occurs then the manager wants to resolve a problem, so he evaluates and makes a decision. The employee’s efforts are recognized spontaneously and they are praised for following directions and completing tasks correctly.

The directing style must be used in the appropriate context. State clearly what you want, expect and when the deadline is. In order to increase motivation, tell employees how learning the material is going to benefit them. Make sure you provide the right amount of detail, and always interact in an adult-to-adult manner. Sometimes managers have to be candid and direct to get through to a person, so don’t sugarcoat the message.

The Discussing Style

The discussing style focuses on learning through interaction, critical thinking and discussions. This is one of the most effective management styles in a learning environment. The manager is a facilitator that guides the discussion to a correct conclusion by asking employees about the issue that must be resolved. The communication is multi-way or two-way because the manager listens carefully to the employee and asks follow-up questions. The decision making process involved working together to identify problems, evaluate the alternatives and make safe decisions.

If you want to use the discussing style, start by asking general questions and then get more specific. Ask employees about their ideas, opinions, what would they do in a certain situation in order to increase their engagement. Do not answer your own questions right away, silence is a great motivator. Make sure you prepare the questions in advance, promote broad participation and gently draw out employees who seem insecure or reticent.

The Delegating Style

A manager who delegates promotes learning through empowerment and assigns tasks for employees to tackle in small groups or independently. The employees listen and ask followup question until they understand what they need to do. This is one of the management styles that encourages self-coaching. Employees learn by doing and make decisions as they establish goals, work through problems and implement plans.

If you are a delegator, try assigning projects that are challenges, but not impossible. Express confidence in the ability of the employees to get the job done so you increase the probability of success. Make sure you are precise and give clear instructions. Establish periodical check-in dates so you insure progress in being made.

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