For those of you who don’t know, I’m currently in a leadership position myself and I aspire to work towards a management position. So every chance I have I try to always pick up pieces of wisdom from books on management, attending seminars/lectures, or referencing my business mentors.
Having spent the last week busy at work, I was really happy to finally have some time to attend a lecture on the different theories behind management styles.
One of the really cool parts of the lecture I attended focused on the spectrum of management styles and the theory behind what is at each end of the spectrum when it comes to managing a team, a startup, or a large company with multiple levels of management.
For instance on one end of the management style spectrum is the so called Tough guy/gal management style. In business, we refer to this management style as Theory X Management. This theory is based upon the notion that employees you are managing are inherently lazy and need constant supervision to perform their daily duties.
Some of the habits we see in managers who employ the tough guy style are:
- Closely monitoring employees (i.e. looking over their shoulders during work time)
- The threat of termination when convincing employees to adhere to deadlines
- Using fear and intimidation tactics to enforce compliance amongst employees
On the far side of the management style spectrum is a term called the Nice guy/gal management style, commonly referred to as Theory Y management. This theory is based upon the belief that employees want to do a good job and any criticism of their work performance might disturb their work flow and self esteem.
The lecturer noted that we tend to see Theory Y management style come into play when an employee is newly promoted into a position of management.
Some of the common habits we see with Theory Y are:
- Seeming apologetic when work performance criticism is given to loyal workers even when they are making mistakes in their work and criticism is therefore justified
- Bending workplace rules to fit employee needs/desires
As you probably noticed both Theory X and Y Management Styles have both their pros and cons. When faced with two theories that are essentially opposites, it’s easy to feel some anxiety on which management style is most effective. However, the lecturer resolves this conflict when he stated that a combination of Theory X and Y should be taken into account in certain situations.
For instance, in some cases Theory X should be utilized when employees are consistently performing below work standards (i.e. work attendance issues, constant failure to adhere to deadlines).
However, the lecturer stated that it is impossible to constantly watch over each employees shoulders, especially the bigger the company in terms of employee size.
A great way to monitor employee progress and productivity would be to have weekly one-on-ones with employees. The lecturer stated that weekly one-on-ones are a great way to utilize both theory X and Y and create a two-way dialogue with employees.
For example, theory x comes into play when consistent weekly one-on-one meetings are enforced to ensure employees are reaching their performance goals.
Theory Y can also be incorporated in this same setting by allowing employees to speak on some of the issues they are having with their work i.e.stress as a result of constant deadlines, problems with team members, etc.
The lecturer stated that if employees feel their one-on-ones are a setting in which they can vent some of their issues without fear of retaliation. And feel as though members of management are listening to their issues and creating a plan of action on how to resolve their employees’ workplace issues, then employees are more likely to take work performance criticism much more effectively.
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