five forearms each wearing different watches representing the different management styles

5 Important Management Styles and How to Use Them

Written by the Officevibe Content Team, Designed by Simon Lavallée-Fortier

October 22, 2018

Reading time : Clock7mins

One of the most important jobs in the world is undoubtedly management. Given that managers account for up to 70% of the variance in employee engagement, they play a vital role in employee and company success. Engaged employees have the power to set companies apart, but they need good managers to guide them along the way.

Being a good manager takes knowledge, skill, and practice, but a big part of it is also in your approach. Figuring out your own personal management style will take your team to new heights, and as you probably know by now, your own success as a manager is determined by nothing other than the success of your team.

The 5 management styles we cover in this article are:

  1. Participative Management
  2. Network Management
  3. Mentor Management
  4. Pacesetting Management
  5. Authoritative Management

Discovering Your Management Style

Different management styles (like different leadership styles) exist for a reason. Depending what kind of team you’re leading, and under what circumstances, your style is likely to adapt and evolve over time — and that’s ok. Great managers know that there’s a time and a place for everything, and are able to switch between and even combine styles depending on the person and the situation at hand. This will all come with practice and experience, but the first step is understanding the different management styles that exist.

Let’s look at 5 different management styles and when to use them:

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The 5 Most Essential Management Styles

1. Participative Management

a double-pan balance scale with hands on either side holding pans with people inside them

Participative Management means involving employees in the decision making process and conceptualizing the big picture. It’s all about piecing together the different ideas, opinions, and skill sets of each individual, and then prioritizing and planning accordingly. By getting insights and input from your employees, you can then narrow your team’s focus, and organize and manage workloads from there. Not only does this style encourage creativity and innovation from your employees, it can also help foster inclusivity on your team.

When to Use Participative Management

This style works well when your employees have a strong understanding of company priorities and goals. For example, if your organization is very client-oriented and your employees are the ones in direct contact with clients, they might know what to prioritize best. It’s a way of flipping the typical top-down structure on its head — and can lead to big new ideas and approaches.

2. Network Management

Network Management puts the emphasis on building connections and lines of communication between teams and then trusting them work collaboratively with each other. This is a fairly hands-off management style, as your employees’ first contact for resolving problems or getting initial approvals are each other, not you. Your role is maintaining the connections between your employees so they can work effectively together. This could mean scheduling regular cross-team touchpoint meetings or setting up the right slack channels for efficient communication — you might have to test out a few things before you find what works best.

When to Use Network Management

For higher-level managers who oversee multiple teams, this is an ideal style to master. It’s all about building networks of communication and developing relationships built on trust. Sometimes, this even means being the communication network, and acting as a messenger or go-between. Network management means ensuring that the right information is shared effectively and efficiently between the right employees and/or teams.

3. Mentor Management

Mentor management means shifting between a hands-on and hands-off approach to develop your employees, grow their skill sets, and lead them to be more autonomous. With this style, you act as a coach and work one-on-one with your employees to develop their expertise. By having regular touchpoints where you set goals, create development plans, and follow up on progress, you help your employees become masters of their craft.

When to Use Mentor Management

Mentor management is ideal for managers who are experts in the roles of their employees. If you were a star performer in your field and got promoted into management, you’re perfectly primed to be a mentor manager. It’s all about passing the torch and developing your employees to become experts themselves (and then getting out of their way). That being said, you can still be a mentor even if you don’t have the specific expertise your employee is developing — connecting them with the right coach or resources is a form of mentorship, too.

A specific situation where this style might be useful is to work directly with an employee whose performance has dropped. If one of your top performers’ quality of work has diminished, they might benefit from this kind of coaching and attention from you. Just make sure you’re still keeping tabs on the rest of your team, too.

4. Pacesetting Management

a hand holding an alarm clock with small figures of people adjusting the hands on the clock

Pacesetting management is hands-on and directive about the pace of work that is set, but hands-off about how the work will be completed. This style of management means implementing deadlines and checkpoints for projects, but leaving methods and execution up to employees. Your team knows how best to do their work, but you can structure the timeline to keep things moving along at the right pace.

When to Use Pacesetting Management

If you’re managing a leaderful team, wherein employees are self-motivated and collaborate effectively, pacesetting may just be all they need from you. Some teams are really good when left to their own devices, and just need deadlines to structure their work around. Your team might get to a point where this style works for them, but if you take this approach be sure to check in with them often so that if things start to go sideways, you can jump in and reassess with the team.

5. Authoritative Management

Authoritative management is the old-school style of micromanagement. In this style, you dictate exactly what is done, when, by who, and how, with no input from your employees. Authoritative management is definitely not in line with a people-first, non-hierarchical modern workforce, but under very specific circumstances, it can be a necessary approach. The trick is getting it right, and using it for the right reasons.

When to Use Authoritative Management

The clearest time to use authoritative management is when your company is in a state of crisis. In a moment where everything is up in the air, taking a more authoritative approach can actually help take the pressure off your team. It’s a way of shouldering the burden for them. As a temporary management style, authoritative management can be effective for pulling companies together.

The trick with this (and a key to being a good manager in general) is a strong foundation of trust between you and your team. For an authoritative approach — even a temporary one — to work, your team has to trust that you have their best interest at heart. Use the other styles outlined in this article to connect with your employees and build trust day by day, and only implement this one when it’s absolutely necessary.

Managing your Management Styles

The first step in developing your own management style is understanding how these styles work in both theory and practice. From there, you can begin to implement them and draw on aspects from each one to find the combination that works best for your team. It’s all about finding the balance between hands-on and hands-off approaches.

Finding your groove will take some time and practice, and will probably involve some learning from trial and error — but fear not. Committing to testing out different styles and being open to learning is the best place to start, and continual growth and development are key to being a good manager, and a great leader. Keep track of what you try and why it works or doesn’t to help you along your way, and soon you’ll be using each style effectively and with confidence.

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What’s Your Management Style?

Tell us which style works best for you and why in the comments section!

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