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Is It Time to Change Your Management Style?

"Employee engagement" is a buzz word in business for good reason. Employee engagement has everything to do with performance. Yet, low employee engagement is widely recognized as a serious workplace issue. Managers are a key factor in turning that around.

Managers who ignore disengaged employees face costly consequences. In fact, Gallup puts the cost of employee disengagement at $450 billion to $550 billion in lost productivity per year. The potential impact of managers on employee engagement and productivity cannot be ignored. The question for managers may be, what management style is most effective?

Demand for graduates of a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program is strong, in part because MBA programs help develop leadership and management skills. At Boise State University, for example, the online MBA program prepares students with a solid business foundation while emphasizing strategic management, motivation and leadership.

Why Are Good Managers So Important?

With the stakes so high when it comes to employee engagement, choosing the right manager is crucial. Yet, according to Gallup, companies get it wrong more than 80 percent of the time. What this boils down to is managers who are not giving employee development the attention it needs.

Gallup found that although engagement levels are increasing, most employees are not engaged in their work. This translates to employees who are not performing at their best. On the other hand, managers who know how to boost employee engagement can look forward to:

  • Less absenteeism
  • Lower levels of turnover
  • Higher productivity
  • Greater profitability

5 Management Styles

While there isn't one right way to manage, it pays to learn what sets effective managers apart. A good place to start is by looking at some of the more common management styles:

  1. Top-Down Management: Also known as autocratic leadership, this style is exactly what it sounds like. Upper management decides how things get done. Lower-level managers typically implement those decisions. Managers who prefer this style find that it keeps expectations clear. Some employees may prefer that. Others may find this style demoralizing.
  2. Servant-Leader Management: In contrast to top-down leaders who say, "This is what to do," servant leaders focus on empowering employees to realize their potential. These managers share their knowledge and skills, and they make sure their teams have what they need to do their best.
  3. Participative Management: Also called democratic management, this approach engages employees in goal-setting, problem-solving and decision-making. This management style promotes a collaborative environment where ideas are shared freely, and innovation is encouraged. This style of management may be most effective with more experienced teams.
  4. Visionary Management: This management style offers employees the independence they may be looking for in the workplace. Managers need to sell their employees on their vision before expecting them to get to work. From there, employees set their own direction. Studies show that giving employees more control in how they get their work done decreases burnout.
  5. Coaching Management: Successful managers know the value of regular coaching for employee development. This management style works well to help employees gain insight on performance and address challenges to motivate career development and growth. Coaching connects employees to their work in meaningful ways, which can reduce burnout.

Gallup studies have found that performance varies widely from one company to the next, in large part due to how employees are managed. Different people, personalities, situations, organizations and industries may require different approaches to management. It may turn out that the best management style is a blend of several.

Learn more about the Boise State online MBA program.


Gallup: How to Tackle U.S. Employees' Stagnating Engagement

Gallup: Why Great Managers Are So Rare

Gallup: Employee Engagement on the Rise in the U.S.

Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership: What Is Servant Leadership?

Gallup: Millennials Are Burning Out

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