These do not describe personality, but are rather hats that a manager can don in a given situation. However, most managers tend to use a particular style in every situation. Being aware of which style you use most helps you to adopt a more nuanced management approach.
Choose your most likely reaction to each of the following scenarios, and check your answers at the end to find out your management style.
A flood has made the ground floor of your office block unusable. You have deadlines to meet and meetings to attend. You assemble all of your staff on the first floor and:
a) Tell them that a cramped desk is better than no desk at all.
b) Tell a subordinate to organise a desk-sharing system and concentrate on getting the ground floor back in use.
c) Pass around the biscuits and organise team-building activities.
d) Outline the available options, ask your staff for suggestions, and then hold a vote.
e) Find a patch of desk-space and crack on with your work. The most important thing is to set a good example.
f) Organise an impromptu training and development day.
You have been alerted to a staff member who spends office hours trawling the internet for rare books to feed his bibliophilic addiction. You call him into your office for a private chat, and he tells you that he finishes his work early and gets bored. You:
a) Force him to apologise to his colleagues and to work in your office, so that you can keep an eye on him.
b) Inform him of company policy and tell him that if he doesn’t change his behaviour he will face disciplinary action.
c) Tell him it is best if he keeps his reading habit for outside office hours. Suggest he starts a book club.
d) Ask him for suggestions as to how he might improve his behaviour.
e) Get him to shadow you for a day so that he can see how much you work.
f) Explain that his behaviour is demoralising other staff. Offer him a secondment to a more challenging department.
A staff member consistently finishes her work early, and to a higher standard than her colleagues. You ask her to help you prepare a report, but it arrives on your desk late and full of careless mistakes. You:
a) Tear up the report in front of her and tell her to do it again.
b) Tell her that if she wants to be considered for promotion then she needs to maintain her high standards. Offer her the chance to rewrite the report.
c) Say nothing about the mistakes, but ask her if she feels too pressured by the extra workload.
d) Go through the report together with her, asking her to point out any possible improvements.
e) Send her a copy of the corrected report.
f) Go through your suggested corrections with her, and offer to send her on a short business-writing course.
It’s 8pm and you have been in the office since six in the morning, trying to tie up the loose ends of project due the following day. It is your wife’s birthday, and you haven’t bought her a card yet. One of the three colleagues who have worked late with you gets up to leave. You:
a) Demand that he stays until the work is finished.
b) Demand that the work be finished by the deadline on the following day.
c) Offer him a lift home.
d) Ask all three if they think it is time to stop for the night.
e) Tell him to run to the shops and get a card for your wife while you finish off his work.
f) Go home. Book everyone on a time-management course.
You discover that frequency with which kettles are boiled and re-boiled in the office contributes more to electricty costs than heating and lighting put together. You:
a) Throw away the kettles.
b) Organise a rota for making drinks, so that kettles are used with less frequency and more efficiency.
c) Hold tea breaks so that staff are less inclined to boil the kettles at other times.
d) Ask the staff to keep records of when they boil kettles, so that they can become aware of whether their behaviour is inefficient.
e) Display a bottle of cold water on your desk.
f) Spend a morning explaining the financial and environmental benefits of saving electricity.
A member of staff starts coming to work in jeans and trainers. This does not affect her work, as she does not meet members of the public or clients, but other staff members have begun to complain. You:
a) Order her to dress more smartly or resign.
b) Put up posters indicating the correct dress code.
c) Organise a casual-wear day, so that she will realise jeans are for special occasions.
d) Send around a dress code survey, asking staff to suggest improvements.
e) Pay more attention to your own smartness.
f) Explain the impact that a smart appearance has on colleagues, clients and employers.
If what you get are:
You go for the coercive style: you work well in crisis situations, and prefer to use the stick than the carrot. You demand immediate obedience, and do not tolerate hangers-on.
The authoritative manager demands results with the same force as does the coercive, but instead of requiring that specific tasks be completed now, states the deadline and goal, and leaves the staff to decide their own route there.
You are an asset in times of change, and have strong long-term vision.
In contrast to the coercive and authoritative managerial types, you prefer to think more about the well-being of your people. You are an affiliative manager. You are concerned to create harmony in the workplace, and hold the principle that “people come first”.
The democratic manager is also staff-aware, but instead of focusing on building social relationships, you involve your staff in the management of the organisation. The words most commonly on your lips are: “What do you think?”
You are a pace-setter. A high-achiever and a conscientious worker you demand the same from your staff. You are not afraid to work at the same level as your staff in order to demonstrate what needs to be done and how they should do it.
You are a coaching manager. You consider it important to develop the long-term potential of each employee, rather than focusing on short-term results. You organise development plans, training days and coaching sessions.