Is Your Management Style Killing Your Results?
Your management style may be limiting your career and killing your results. This may not even be your fault if you examine how you became a manager in the first instance.
Most people grow into a management role either through a promotion or applying for the role. Have the title of manager, doesn’t make you effective particularly if you haven’t received any training, coaching or mentoring as to how to transition into the role.
How you manage your business unit and lead others will have a direct relationship to your success. This depends on understanding the difference between success thinking and failure thinking for both you and your people.
Success thinking vs failure thinking
A success-oriented person thinks differently than a failure-oriented person.
A success oriented person sees winning as a consequence of their ability, which inspires confidence in their capacity to succeed again. When they encounter an occasional failure, they attribute the outcome to insufficient effort. They believe they need to try harder, for failure increases their motivation, rather than reduces it. They take credit for success and accept responsibility for failure.
A failure-oriented person is filled with self-doubt and anxiety. They attribute failure to a lack of ability and occasional successes to luck. They blame themselves for failures and accept no credit for any successes.
Early experiences taught them that trying didn’t help, so the problem must be them. They are highly motivated to avoid failure, as they don’t want to risk discovery that they may lack ability. Failure-oriented people keep themselves armed with excuses. The systems and processes are wrong; they didn’t have the right training, they didn’t have the right tools, it’s the bosses fault and so on.
Just as your people assign reasons for success and failure, so do managers and leaders. It’s your expectations of your people that affect their motivation to perform (the expectation theory).
It is natural for managers and leaders to reward employees with higher expectations than those with lower expectations. It is also natural for managers and leaders to have a closer relationship with some people more than others. Failure-oriented people are more vulnerable to negative expectancies. For instance, “The boss thinks I’m no good, so why bother trying to get along with the boss.” It goes back to the attitude cycle; if you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Becoming a successful manager
Developing your leadership skills to become a successful manager can be learnt. The first attribute you need to develop is empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand the thoughts and feelings of your people and their emotions. Successful people understand the emotions of joy, anger, anxiety, and frustration. They also can listen to their people and empathize with them. Good leaders rarely chastise or belittle their people, which only diminishes their sense of self-worth.
The second attribute needed to be a successful manager is to develop leadership skills. Your people will look to you for leadership, and if you don’t provide it, someone else will. A successful leader accurately understands themselves and their people.
The third thing to do is to adopt a management philosophy. Your management philosophy comprises your views of the past, your opinions of the present, and your expectations of the future. Your views depend on your upbringing, the people you have met and hang out with, and the books you’ve read. Your opinions are based on ignorance or knowledge.
Ignorance is like a cancer; it destroys understanding, tolerance, and natural justice. Your expectations depend on knowing where you are going and going where you know by developing a management philosophy. A management philosophy comprises how you think, how you act, and how you behave.
Don’t be afraid to look to others, inside and outside of your business unit, for advice and guidance. Admit what you don’t know and enjoy exploring the wonderful world of management.
Skills needed to be an effective manager
First, ask yourself why you want to be a manager.
- Do you have a need for achievement?
- Do you need to dominate others?
- Do you have a desire to help others succeed?
- Do you get a sense of accomplishment seeing others become successful?
- Are you the only person available?
- Do you have other motivations?
Understanding why you are looking to manage others is a great place to start. You also need a few other skills.
- Knowledge of the business
- Knowledge of the industry you are in
- Teaching and coaching skills
- Planning and organizational skills
- Communication skills
- Social psychology skills
- Analysis and monitoring skills
The role of a successful manager
A manager adopts many roles when dealing with their people. A good manager will modify their style to suit their subordinates.
A manager’s role is not only diverse; it is also very complex because human beings are complex by nature. This means, while managing a business unit, you will be called upon to perform many roles.
- Decision maker – making decisions about all aspects of the business
- Salesperson – selling your ideas
- Teacher – imparting new knowledge and skills
- Trainer – training your employees
- Motivator – motivating your employees
- Disciplinarian – determining a system of rewards and recognition
- Adjudicator – adjudicating in conflict situations
- Social worker – counseling, advising and supporting your employees
- Student – learning new skills and increasing your own knowledge base
- Scientist – researching, analyzing, monitoring and controlling all aspects of the business
- Publicity agent – controlling the public image of the business
Adopting a management style
Adopting a commando style of management is where you get to make all the decisions. Your people must listen, absorb what you are saying, and comply. Commandos demonstrate the traits of a coercive leader.
A submissive style of management is where few decisions are made. This style of management exerts little influence and only resolves problems if necessary. Managers who adopt this style either lack confidence, lack competence, or are too lazy to meet the demands of managing a business. They become a business baby sitter.
Adopting a cooperative style of management means you and your people share in the decision-making process. You recognize that it is your responsibility to provide leadership, guiding your people towards achieving business objectives.
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”
– Lao Tzu
Let’s examine common management styles.
Common management styles
Paula is pretentious and never admits to being wrong. Her communication style lacks credibility. Because she’s not credible, others tune out when she speaks because she usually has nothing much to say. She is self-centered, never giving credit to others.
Because of this, she commands no respect from her people. Paula the Pretender doesn’t understand that respect is something you earn, not given automatically.
How credible do you think you will be?
Bob is negative all the time. He thrives on delivering bad news. He frequently criticizes others and is slow to praise, if he gives any praise at all. His communication style is hostile, aggressive, and de-motivating. He’s always slow to give credit to others. He blames others when things go wrong and takes the credit when they go right.
He destroys the self-confidence of his people and increases self-doubt, and they go out of their way to avoid Bob BadNews.
Will you adopt a positive or negative communication style?
No one likes to be constantly judged. This is how Judge Judy communicates with her people. Instead of giving instructions, she constantly evaluates and passes down judgement. She apportions blame, rather than providing constructive feedback.
She doesn’t know how to manage people and get the best of them because her people are afraid to try something new, as they know they will be constantly judged.
Will you constantly judge and blame others?
Marcus is moody. One day, his communication style is positive and upbeat, and the next day, its negative and he’s down in the dumps. His subordinates never know what mood he will be in, so they walk around all day treading on egg shells.
One day, he will punish someone for whatever, and the next day, there is no punishment for the same thing. He tells his people not to argue with each other, then he argues with them. There is no consistency.
How consistent will you be in the way you choose to communicate?
Talkative Tara never knows when to stop talking. She is so busy talking and talking and talking, she fails to listen or hear what others are saying. It doesn’t occur to her that her subordinates have something valuable to say.
Meetings go on forever because, again, she doesn’t know when to stop talking. After a while, her subordinates just give up, tune out, and do their own thing.
Will you be a good listener or do you prefer to do all the talking?
Cold Faced Colin
Cold Colin shows no emotion when he communicates. He’s always got a stony face. You can never tell what he is thinking. He doesn’t smile, wink, yell, absolutely nothing. He pats no one on the back. He admonishes no one.
You never know what he’s thinking, and you never know how he feels. People around him feel insecure, as it difficult to build a relationship with him, and subordinates don’t know if they have done something right or wrong. He gives no feedback.
Will you show emotions when you communicate with your staff?
Peter the Professor
Peter professor speaks gobbledygook all the time. Nobody can understand him. He is far too technical when he speaks and doesn’t use language that is easy for his subordinates to understand. He’s hard to understand because doesn’t know how to relate the fundamentals of a job or demonstrate skills in a logical manner.
He’s all over the place and is in a world all his own. He is used to dealing in abstracts and theory.
How well will you provide instructions?
Insecure in her communication style, Lilly Lollipop uses bribery and rewards to get employees to adopt her ideas. She doesn’t have confidence in her ability to lead others and often reinforces the wrong behavior at the wrong time.
As a manager, she either comes down on people too hard or lets misbehavior pass. Inconsistent, her subordinates don’t respect her.
How will you reward and discipline your staff?
Adopting a management style
Having credibility with your employees is essential for you to succeed as a manager. Therefore consider what your management style says about you. If you are not succeeding in the workplace, perhaps it’s time to reconsider how you come across to others. One way to do this is to ask. You may not like the answers however gaining this insight could make the difference between succeeding or staying where you are.
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