Is your management style right for your team?

Dear manager… it’s not me, it’s you

You don’t have to be a genius to work out that hiring a poor manager will see staff leave in hoards. A 2015 Gallup study found that 50% of 7,200 people asked left a job “to get away from their manager”. Wow.

So what are these managers doing to send people running for the hills? 

We look at the frustrations poorly managed employees often face and share some tips on effective management and coaching. 


A question of style

There are many different types of management style and often managers need to be flexible with their approach dependent on the needs of the organisation and individual. However, when managers misjudge this, employees can quickly become disengaged and frustrated.


Here are the pros and cons of five key management styles. Do any of these ring a bell in your organisation?


management styles pros and cons

I'm not your puppet on a string

If you key ‘define management’ into Google you’ll stumble across this definition: ‘it’s a process of dealing with or controlling things or people.’

Hmm, interesting.

Does the very definition of management push managers towards a 'Commanding' approach? Keeping people and projects on track is one thing, but controlling people too strictly is another - do it too often and employee engagement levels will nosedive, worse still, your people may decide to leave, costing you time and money.

Author Gretchen Rubin believes that “happiness is affected by [employee’s] sense of control over their lives” – and we agree. It’s crucial we trust our employees’ abilities and give them the freedom to do their jobs properly.


I'm full of ideas, encourage me to voice them

Sometimes managers assume that their role requires them to preach their knowledge to the masses in a “my way or the highway” style, and whilst we want managers to share their knowledge with us, a close-minded approach damages employee confidence and collaboration.

When we’re micromanaged and unable to bring our own initiative to the table, we become resentful, we loose confidence in our own problem-solving skills and become both disengaged and dependent on our manager for guidance and constant approval.


I want development opportunities to better my skills 

We were inspired by an Engage 4 Success podcast recently to think about managerial egos - (I am the manager, therefore I know best) - and fears - (in order to maintain my role I mustn’t let anyone become better than me).

When managers adopt a self-preserving attitude that is rooted in fear or insecurity, they will typically demonstrate poor management capabilities and stifle people with great potential. This may manifest in a lack of development opportunities, unachievable objectives or negative feedback, leaving employees feeling disengaged and frustrated.

Switching up this mind-set is essential. When managers think of themselves as a coach rather than a controller, they accept that the very purpose of their role is to push people to achieve their best. They commit to seeking out and encouraging learning and development opportunities, sharing their own knowledge yet remaining open to different approaches and celebrating employee successes sincerely.


A little self-awareness goes a long way - ask me for feedback

It’s important to remember that managers as well as employees need guidance and coaching sometimes. Providing management development training before letting someone loose to muddle their way through the job is essential, and ensuring managers are aware of their own strengths, weaknesses, emotions and fears can help them to consider their own performance and the impact this has on others. Personality profiling tools such as Insights Discovery are a great way of broaching these conversations.

Trust and feedback are a two-way street. Providing opportunities for employees to give feedback to their managers can help to identify areas for development and promotes an open, honest culture. Constructive feedback should always be approached with a growth-mindset (i.e. this feedback is future-focused and aims to help you grow as an individual).


Top tips for better management 

Research by Engage for Success shows that the most engaging managers 'focus their people and give them scope, treat their people as individuals and coach and stretch their people'. They demonstrate the following behaviours consistently:

  • Provide clear objectives – both achievable and ‘stretch’ goals
  • Lead with clear direction – role modelling behaviours in line with company values and long-term business objectives
  • Are discreet and trustworthy – you’ve got to give it to get it
  • Give quality feedback which is: regular, timely, thoughtful, honest and constructive
  • Take a collaborative, team-focused approach – bringing people together
  • Offer learning and development opportunities – encouraging personal growth 
  • Recognise and utilise individual strengths – delegating tasks based on skills, strengths and passions
  • Celebrate successes – for individuals and the collective team, making people feel valued and recognised


Engaging managers equally have the ability to adapt their management style dependent on the situation and the needs of the individual.


Advice for great coaching conversations

When it comes to coaching conversations, think of them as an on-going process and not simply a tick-the-box meeting every four to six months. Getting to know individuals within your team is crucial to understanding motivations and desired career development and two-way feedback conversations should be taking place on a regular basis, based on individual needs. These conversations should encourage employees to come up with the answers by themselves, and not simply spoon-feed them. This is the most powerful way of soliciting positive change.