How And When To Use Different Management Styles To Get The Most Out of Your Team

Men Without Faces

Management style is the general way a manager uses to manage his teams.  Some managers use a particular management style because that’s the only style that they are aware of.  More mature managers know different styles and can quickly adapt to any style to their advantage depending upon the situation, the capabilities of their teams, and the nature of tasks that need to be performed.

In this article I will go over the 4 general management styles, and explain how IT managers can best use each to their advantage.

1. Directive Democrat

The manager involves employees in the decision making process, but closely monitors them in the implementation of each decision. 

This management styles works best when your employees are capable of performing the job, but usually require a high amount of support from you.  It also works well as you are starting to get to know your employees and giving them a chance to prove themselves. 

This style of management usually fits most situations, especially in IT, as long as your monitoring practice does not interfere with the work your employees are performing.  There are ways to closely monitor without alienating your employees, some of which I discuss in another article, 5 Steps to Stellar Team Management

2. Directive Autocrat

The manager makes decisions unilaterally and closely monitors employees in the implementation of each decision. 

This management style works best when employees are neither willing nor capable of performing the job and require high amounts of support as well as guidance. 

This style of management is also notoriously known as micro-management.  Generally in IT if you come across situations when employees are neither willing nor capable of performing the job, then you have a bigger problem to solve.  Either your employees are incompetent and must be replaced, or there is something that they are trying to tell you but you are not paying attention.

3. Permissive Democrat

The manager involves employees in the decision making process and also gives employees latitude in the implementation of those decisions.  

This management style generally works best when you have mostly senior level employees who are willing and capable of doing the job, and require minimal support as well as guidance. 

As great as this style of management sounds, it can be risky if you do not know your employees well, or lack a long-term working relation with them.  A permissive democrat employee is sometimes viewed by his employees as a slacker, or the one who lacks interest.  Generally in IT this kind of a manager is one who finds himself in a management role but has no or very IT background to be able to guide or support his subordinates.

4. Permissive Autocrat

The manager makes decisions unilaterally but allows latitude in the implementation of those decisions.  

This management style generally works best when your employees require a high level of guidance, but a low level of support.  In other words, they are not sure about what needs to be done, but they are well capable of carrying out any assignments that they are tasked with. 

In IT this style of management is practiced by managers who find themselves in extremely fast paced environments where they can’t afford the time to make collaborative decisions, or when the manager views himself as an IT guru and does not trust his subordinates with influencing decisions.

  1. Danish Naeem
    July 28th, 2009 at 11:13 | #1

    Was a very nice read. It is always very interesting whenever someone put things in perspective. Usually all of us practice either of these management styles or some kind of hybrid between them, however, such pieces gives clarity to the processes and makes one focus better.
    Thanks.
    p.s. Your recommended book for an IT manager would be?

  2. July 28th, 2009 at 17:58 | #2

    Glad you liked the article. As for recommendations on books, checkout the Suggested Readings section above. These are books hand-picked by me for anyone interested in reading up on IT management discipline. I particularly liked the “A Manager’s Guide to Coaching” and the “The Path of Least Resistance”.

  1. June 18th, 2009 at 16:28 | #1
 

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