Tuesday, August 13, 2019

5 Ways Management Styles Impact Employee Engagement

It’s been said that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers. In fact, according to a Gallup study found in Gallup’s 2017 “State of the American Workplace” report, 51% of currently employed adults in the US say they are searching for new jobs or watching for new job opportunities. Some of the ship-jumping is due to a particular management style. That doesn’t mean that a particular management style will be detrimental to your workforce, but that some management styles may not be conducive to a specific workforce. The ultimate goal we should all strive for is to adopt a management style that improves and increases employee engagement. 

Another Gallop study found that 70% of employees in America are disengaged costing the US over $550 billion a year in lost productivity. To keep employees engaged requires looking at the workforce and work processes from various angles to determine what could be improved, changed, or simply eliminated to increase engagement. Many areas such as empowerment, work environment, reward processes, and others should be analyzed regularly. But one area of concern that can be dealt with immediately and that will provide instant results is that of management style.

The Styles
There is a time and place for all management styles. No style is good or bad, but it is how and when leaders use them that determines success or failure. Understanding your style of management and how it impacts employee engagement is crucial to the success of your company. What follows are five management styles typically associated with almost every type of business. Depending on where you research, most of these styles can be found to some degree in every organization—and some have different headings, but most styles fall under these categories.

1. Autocratic Management Style
The Autocratic Management style is a traditional style that has been around for a very long time. This is the style that allows the manager to have a “Because I told you so” mentality. In some situations, (think military or firefighting situations), that demand error-free outcomes, this style may be applicable, but is not the best style to be used on a full-time basis. The Autocratic manager doesn’t solicit input from others, believes rules are extremely important, and dictates all methods and processes. 

An example of an Autocratic style is Sam Walton when he was building his Walmart empire or Football legend, Vince Lombardi when he coached the Green Bay Packers. This style was needed to for streamlining processes and growing a customer base. The Autocratic style has proven useful in factory settings or jobs requiring few skills, but is being phased out as managers realize that to create future leaders within the organization, a new approach should be adopted. When the Autocratic style is used in small does as in heavy industry or emergency room situations, it is useful, but it should only be added as cumin is added to dishes when cooking—too much will ruin the outcome. A full-time Autocratic style is not conducive to increasing employee engagement. Use it only as needed.

2.) Coaching Management Style
With the Coaching Management style, the manager helps team members develop their strengths to improve performance. It is a style that motivates employees by providing tools and resources for growth. This is a favored management style for improving employee engagement. The Coaching manager says, “Let me show you how it’s done.” Examples include Tony Hsieh’s style of guiding his customer service team at Zappos or as how philanthropist Andrew Carnegie  coached Charles Schwab who would become the first president of US Steel.

To build Coaching Management style muscles, you must first build a relationship with your team members. According to a Harvard Business Review article, you must, “Understand that before you start coaching, you need to develop a culture of trust and a solid relationship with the people you will be coaching. In spite of your good intentions, all the techniques in the world will make little difference if those you are trying to coach don’t feel connected to you in some way.” 

3.) Affiliative Management Style
First coined by Daniel Goleman in 2002 as one of his six leadership styles, the Affiliative style manager strives to create harmony, not just between employees and manager, but between employees. This style of management puts people first and tasks second. It is very useful in creating a more harmonious work environment and therefore opens pathways to a more engaged workforce. 

Obviously less stressful than the Autocratic Management style, the Affiliative style has its downside when performance falters or a project deadline isn’t met. It’s hard to keep the friendly, people-first attitude without accountability when profits are down. This style is good to adopt and one way to increase it’s effectiveness is to strive to know your team members to build a relationship that caters to their needs while still getting the work done. Former manager Joe Torre of the New York Yankees displayed a Affiliative style recognizing the various contributions of individual players, and then expressing his gratitude for the talent regardless of the score in the game.

4.) Participative Management Style
The Participative Management style encourages the involvement of employees in analyzing problems and strategizing for solutions. Because it creates a sense of ownership in the company, instills a sense of pride and motivates employees to increase productivity in order to achieve their goals, employees become more engaged in their work. Employees feel like they are a part of a team with a common goal, and this builds their self-esteem and generates pride and loyalty.

If you want to create an atomic reaction in your employee engagement, embrace the Participative Management style. To do this, you must be secure in your position and be willing to relinquish some control to your employees. This is not as easy as it sounds, especially if you’ve held most responsibilities close to your chest for a long time, but with an open mind and trust in your team members, it is worth letting go.

When Steve Jobs was fired from his job as leader of Apple, he was using an Autocratic style of leadership. When Jobs was brought back in the mid-1990s, he had adopted a more Participative style, hiring experienced leaders and giving them room to shine. With this style, Apple soared to even greater heights than before as employees were empowered to make decisions. 

5.) Pacesetting Management Style
The last style, as listed in Daniel Goleman’s book, Primal Leadership, is Pacesetting Management style. This is when the manager sets the pace for others to follow. Employees get motivated to keep up with the manager increasing performance and output to please the manager. As Goleman writes, “The [pacesetting] leader holds and exemplifies the highest standard of performance. He is obsessive about doing things better and faster and asks the same of everyone. He quickly pinpoints poor performers, demands more from them, and if they don’t rise to the occasion, rescues the situation himself.”

This style serves as a great motivator, except for the ones who fall behind and is short-lived in serving as a style to increase employee engagement. The long term effect leaves employees exhausted and feeling as if they’ve been pushed too hard. It is useful in spurts and is dependent on the culture of the organization and the products or service they provide. Use cautiously and when conditions are right for an all-out sprint. 

With the Pacesetting style, Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric comes to mind. Welch vowed to lead by example and encouraged his executives to do the same. Welch, nicknamed “Neutron Jack,” managed by what he coined the four E's of leadership: energy, energize, edge, and execution. Employees followed his pace and GE excelled to greater heights under his leadership. 

Hone Your Style
Obviously, the manager relationship is highly correlated with employee engagement. A good marker for the strength of the relationship is how comfortable an employee is approaching their manager with any type of question. One example of this is the subject of goal setting. A Gallup survey uncovered that when employees were asked to rate their feelings on the statement, “My manager helps me set performance goals,” 69% of employees who replied “strongly agree” were considered engaged in their work, compared to 8% who responded “disagree” or “strongly disagree.”

The best managers seem to adopt a few attributes of almost every style listed above to use in various situations. But management styles don’t just happen. Managers are made, not born so consistent quality training is required to hone a great management style. According to a Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) article, “Developing and Sustaining Employee Engagement,” middle managers need to be trained for their roles, empowered by being given larger responsibilities, and more involved in strategic decisions. The article states that if an organization's executives and HR professionals want to hold managers accountable for the engagement levels, they should:

  • Make sure that managers and employees have the tools to do their jobs correctly.
  • Periodically assign managers larger, more exciting roles.
  • Give managers appropriate authority.
  • Accelerate leadership development efforts.
  • Ask managers to convey the corporate mission and vision and to help transform the organization.

The Goal is Engagement
Learning what styles are most effective for engaging your workforce is crucial to your organization’s success. In a recent Forbes article, former Navy SEAL, Brent Gleeson writes that great managers ensure they acquire and develop great talent by getting the right people on the bus and making sure they are in the right seats. They actively prioritize engagement. Their team’s activities align perfectly behind the mission narrative of the organization.

The management style you use is dependent on the circumstances you and your team may be encountering at that precise moment. Is there a need to be more autocratic because a crisis is at hand? Is it time to set the pace or is this a situation where coaching is more appropriate? Often managers must take on the role of a chameleon and change colors as the environment changes. But the ultimate goal of any style is to aim for 100% employee engagement.

Read more of my management articles at Bonus.ly
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