In part one of this series we said that when managers fail to lead effectively it’s not because they can’t master numbers, but because they try to master people or attempt to manipulate them. As a result, one of the traps managers fall prey to in this area is when they try to manage everyone on their team the same way or attempt to manage them as a group. It doesn’t work. Effective managers, understanding the essential differences between the people on their team, and being aware of their strengths and weaknesses, manage them as individuals. All good management is essentially one-on-one.
Managing people as a group is a weak management style but if this approach is so ineffective, why do so many managers try it? Some are simply lazy and being unwilling to take the time to do their jobs properly, attempt to do a week's worth of work during a staff meeting. They don’t fool their staff for a second. Others have never mastered the basic skill of looking another person in the eyes and simply saying what's on their minds. For them the back wall of the meeting room is the focus of their management effort. Still others see the staff meeting as an expression of power and attack people on issues that should be handled one-on-one. When we let our ego get out in front of us, we have a tendency to attack people and in doing so, we fail them…..and ourselves.
Wise managers make the effort to get with their people one-to-one when dealing with specific problems or issues. They also remain highly ‘aware’ and available. When employees are angry, dejected or tense, they pick up on that and steer them somewhere they’re able to talk in private. You will have scores of opportunities to help the people who depend on you if you remember that you were hired to manage people, and achieve results through them!
We occasionally hear a frustrated manager declare a particular person a lost cause when they don’t respond in the same way another did to a particular technique or approach. But a technique that serves you well with one individual may be useless when used with another so good management also involves selection as well as application.
All effective managers use a mix of different managerial styles or approaches, varying them to match the employee's needs, emotions or the situation. What they’ve discovered is that there’s no right or wrong way to manage! If it works it’s good, if it doesn’t work it’s bad. Let’s take a look at four different approaches used by effective managers.
When a manager uses Autocratic Management as a style and says "Do it this way, I said so'', this manager is drawing on self-strength. Two factors determine whether or not autocratic management is appropriate; the circumstances and who is being managed. There are times when this is the only way to deal with a situation. When the bullets are flying, or the building is on fire, you don’t call a meeting; someone takes charge and tells people what to do. Remember, no right or wrong way to manage. If it works it’s good, if it doesn’t work it’s bad!
Managers using Bureaucratic Management are managing by the the rule book. Because we often overwork bureaucratic management, many of us don’t look at company policy as a tool; instead we use it as a weapon to force people into submission. However there are some employees who not only want bureaucratic management, they want it in abundance for the satisfaction they curiously receive from regimentation. Remember, no right or wrong. If it works it’s good, if it doesn’t work it’s bad!
A third management style, Democratic Management, doesn’t mean letting people vote. When we let the team vote, when we let employees make management decisions, that's not democratic management, that’s an abdication of our responsibilities. With democratic management what we’re really looking to do is let people participate in the decision-making process by seeking and discussing their feedback, ideas and opinions.
The last style we’ll discuss is Idiosyncratic Management. This is really misnamed because all good management is idiosyncratic, because all good management is one-to-one and attuned to the individual. When we use the term idiosyncratic management, we’re referring to the extremes of personality, extremes that are literally idiosyncrasies.
To avoid the trap of managing everyone the same, remember…..no right or wrong, if it works it’s good, if it doesn’t work it’s bad! and you need to know your employees as well as you know your family so use an approach that works with each individual.
In our next post in this series we'll discuss Major Mistake #5 "Concentrating on problems not objectives".