If you’ve ever read about companies featured on “Best Places to Work” lists, most of these companies share a common strength in promoting a healthy work environment for its employees. But what one employee might find to be a ‘great’ work environment or an effective management style, may cause another undue stress or even a feeling that their manager is hindering their work. To ensure you know what you can expect in an employer, it’s important to be aware of how different management styles can impact your performance at work.
Whether you’re interviewing for a new role, or reconsidering your current position, understanding the differences between various management styles will enable you to thrive in a variety of work environments:
Style 1: Laissez-faire management
Managers that practice a laissez-faire management style have a “hands-off” approach and allow employees to manage their own work with little to no supervision. While this management style might work for someone that prefers working by themselves, for example, for those that rely on regular feedback, this can create a difficult working relationship between you and your manager, thus affecting your overall performance.
Ideally, one of the most effective ways to co-exist with a manager that practices a laissez-faire management style is to take initiative to build a rapport with your manager. For example, requesting weekly meetings with your manager to review your performance on particular projects can help to highlight areas for improvement, while also creating opportunities to establish dialogue. This proactive approach may help both you and your manager figure out better ways to work together.
Style 2: Autocratic management
An autocratic management style is very dictatorial in practice, in which a manager micromanages their employees’ responsibilities while setting high performance measures (i.e., strict deadlines, long hours, etc.). While this can make for a very stressful work environment for some, there are a number of methods you can employ to build trust and prevent their need to micromanage.
Building trust through an open line of communication with your manager is a great way to create an effective working relationship under an autocratic management style. How might trust and communication make a difference? If you can establish trust with your manager through honest communication while producing notable results, this may encourage them to trust your opinion and give you more space to do your job. For example, regularly beating deadlines, repeatedly going above and beyond in your duties, or taking on tasks that others don’t want on their plate, are a few ways to garner trust with an autocratic management style. Constant updates to prevent surprises and regular communication may allow a manager to realize micromanaging your everyday tasks is unnecessary and it may create a better working relationship without it.
Style 3: Democratic management
If there were one type of management that is seen as the ‘middle ground’ between laissez-faire and autocratic management, it would have to be a democratic management style. A democratic management style tends to foster collaboration amongst employees, encourage ideas and suggestions, and practice a “hands-on” approach. Although this might sound like an ideal situation for most professionals, it’s important to remember that not everyone will thrive in this type of environment.
The good news is that whether you are an introvert or extrovert, volunteering to take on more responsibility or helping other team members are great ways to play a bigger role in a democratic work environment. In addition, speaking up during meetings and using constructive criticism from your peers to improve your weaknesses are small things you can do to be viewed as a more reliable resource to your manager.