Neurotic, Paranoiac… Styles of Management: Navigating the Deep-Dive of Management Theory and Business Reality…

Managing people is singularly the toughest gig around– it’s that liberated worker thing; its equal parts– challenging and rewarding, positive and negative– and often all at the same time… Some styles of management work, others don’t work, and still others are down-right horrendous– it all depends on the– manager, workers, culture…

Different management styles work– for different managers, for different workers, in different organizations, in different cultures… There are managers who micro-manage, managers who manage by metrics, managers who manage by exception… and some management styles will work under one set of market conditions but not another… ‘it all depends’…

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However, whatever the style of management, it’s an implicit ‘agreement’ or ‘contract’ between management and workers with terms that say; ‘there are things management expect from workers’, and ‘there are things workers expect from management’… Then it’s up to both parties (management and workers) to keep their ends of the bargain… Hence, ‘best’ management style is one that ‘works’ for both management and workers, and when it stops working for either one of the parties, its becomes ‘bad’ management style…

Then, if the organization is to continue, a new or modified implicit ‘agreement’ that ‘works’ for both parties must be adopted, until it stops working… It’s continuous cycle adapting to ever-changing environment of– management, workers, markets, competition, resources…

In the article Neurotic Styles of Management by Kurt Motamedi writes: There are great managers, and there are not so great managers, and there are managers who are on the edge of sanity… Some managers practice styles of management that are neurotic, and elements of these are very common in many organization, e.g.; Explosive: Don’t get in my way… Implosive: Don’t let me down… Abrasive: No one is good enough… Narcissistic: Are they useful to me? Apprehensive: No one can be trusted… Compulsive: Get focused… Impulsive: Change for change’s sake… Often out of fear and opportunism, workers adopt and mimic the neurotic styles of their managers and influential leaders. In such settings a workplace culture becomes– abuse, toxic…

In these toxic cultures, everyone– managers, workers, partners… experience a broad range of unproductive feelings of helplessness, distrust, defensiveness, anger, apathy, even depression… When habitually neurotic workers are advanced to key leadership positions, the pattern continues and inevitable the organizations suffers… Such styles of management (or perversions of management) often reflects the inability to– learn, understand, self-actuate… changes that are necessary for a sustainable organization…

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In the article Helicopter Styles of Management by human factor writes: Many managers practice the helicopter styles of management– these are managers who hover-over workers, partners… in well-intentioned but ill-fated attempt to provide support… These are ‘givers’ gone awry– managers so desperate to help others that they develop a white knight complex and end-up causing harm… According to Sandy Lim; the helicopter styles of management, in the extreme, inhabits workers from– independent thinking, creative problem solving, decisions-making, and the opportunity to fail and learn from failure… Managers that hover tend to– tell workers what to do, when to do it, and how to do it…

The ‘helicopter management style’ is stuck in the past… it’s uses management concepts and techniques that no longer jibe with current market realities…To succeed in ever-changing markets– management must have a flexible, adaptable organization that can change direction, quickly… and this can only be gotten by having– empowered, enabled workers who can perform at high levels and achieve goals without someone constantly hovering over them…

As manager, the responsibility isn’t to make decisions for workers; it’s to teach workers how to make decisions that are good for customers, organization… The responsibility isn’t to solve problems for workers, it’s to coach and to creatively solve problems… The responsibility  isn’t to micro-manage every aspect of workers’ work, it’s to give them the information and resources they need… Then, to get out-of-the-way and let workers do their work!

Management by Walking Around (MBWA): This style (it may not even be a style) is about ‘walking around’ as an unplanned movement within a workplace.. versus, a planned movement, appointment, when workers expect a visit from management at scheduled times… The expected benefit is that management by this ‘randomness of movement and interaction’ with workers is more likely to improve workplace morale, sense of organizational purpose, productivity and overall experience of the organization.. it’s gesture of comradery… as compared to management remaining in their specific office/ desk area, and scheduling formal worker meeting at specific time and place…

According to Adam Toporek; style of management characterized by ‘walking around’ or ‘wandering about’ (MBWA) the workplace is not about policing… At the heart of the MBWA concept is walking with an open mind, e.g.; it’s a casual time for management to communicate with workers– not asking specific work questions– but just to listen to what they have to say, let them know that they are doing important work, let them know that management cares… The most effective management gets to know workers, i.e.; know their frustrations, concerns, questions, beliefs, problems, dreams, goals, strengths, weaknesses…

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In the article Management by ‘Walking Around’ Vs. Management by ‘Gemba Walk’ by Jeff Roussel writes: There is a misconception that management by ‘walking around’ and management by ‘gemba walk’ are the same thing… and although they may be related because they both involve ‘walking’ that is where the similarly ends. The term ‘gemba’ originates from Japanese word for ‘real place’… It refers to the actual place where work is done, such as; factory shop floor, or nursing unit where care is delivered to patients, or product design station…

The goal of a ‘gemba walk’ is to examine the current state of a particular process by observing it in action at the place where it occurs: The aim is narrow, focused, very specific… Whereas, management by ‘walking around’ (MBWA) involves seeing what’s going on more broadly (i.e., just say hello and visit workers at their location)… In other words, a ‘gemba walk’ takes management to specific place to observe a particular activity, which is planned ahead of time…

According to Dr. W. Edwards Deming; ‘management by walking around’ is hardly ever effective because when management is just ‘walking around’ they usually do not pause long enough at any one location to get any useful information– it’s a basic form of workplace socializing… often, walking around is misinterpreted as management spying or interfering with workers activities, unnecessarily…

Whereas, organizations that use ‘gemba walks’ create structure… management has specific questions for workers at each level, management spends time trying to learn and understand the work that is actually being done… there is nothing wrong with management taking stroll around workplace from time-to-time, but ‘management by walking around’ cannot take the place of– purposeful, well executed– ‘gemba walk’…

Studies show that 70% of workers are either; slightly or actively ‘disengaged’ in work… and it may be just coincidence that workers disengagement happened with the rise of so many ‘different’ styles of management… Management styles that can vary, in extremes, the can vary from– no management, to micro-management, to collaborative, to participative, to laissez-faire, autocratic, to democratic, to flexible management… Hence there is no wonder why workers’ sense of engagement is  very low…

However, it’s important to recognize these many styles of management are all an invention of academia’s desired to publish and consult… using fantasized management theories rather than the realities of the– ‘actual’ real-time actions, reactions of managers and workers behaviors within each individual organization… Great management fully understands their workers individual– skills, capabilities, behavior, expectation… and they adopt method for managing each particular organizational ensemble based on mutual and implied ‘contact’ with their workers… without trying to fit within some predefined style of management category…

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But most organizations are so indoctrinated by the management  theory that styles of management are predefined categorizes and they must fit their management practices within one or more of a category: It’s a neurotic rational…

Until management truly understand workers, culture, expectations… and adopts to the realities of their ‘particular’ organization– at given time, circumstance– no style (or category) of management will work, and organizations will continue high rates of worker disengagement.