“With the benefit of all the learning of the past 23 months and as workforces begin their return to the workplace, leaders and managers have a golden opportunity to review their management style and see what approach will work best for them – and their teams – in the months ahead.”
What kind of leader are you? Whatever your management style, a more compassionate approach may be needed as we leave the past 23 months behind.
As a CEO or manager do you expect too much from your teams? Do you command and control, or nurture and advise? Do you take a step back and allow staff to make decisions, or do you micromanage every situation? Are you even aware of your management style and the impact, positive or negative, it can have on staff?
Maybe you display a mix of management styles, but chances are, your predominant leadership approach falls under one of these key categories; autocratic, democratic, laissez-faire or coach-style.
Being aware of your leadership style is important because your approach to managing teams can have far-reaching consequences, from staff productivity and talent retention to company culture and overall business success. By being self-aware, you can also adjust your leadership strategy if you find your typical approach is not working.
Autocratic leaders tend to control all decisions and generally disregard staff input or opinions, while democratic leader allows for group participation in the decision-making process. Coach-style leaders focus on collaboration and personal improvement, getting the most out of each team member by setting individual goals. Laissez-faire leaders are delegators, their approach to leadership is hands-off, allowing staff to make their own decisions on the day-to-day.
Management styles post-pandemic
According to MD of Matrix Recruitment, Kieran McKeown, prior to the pandemic, many CEOs were resistant to change, including changing their management style or making broader changes such as taking the leap towards remote working. But fast forward two years and there’s a realisation among most business leaders that some element of change is essential if a business wants to create a better working environment and create a better business model that will attract and ultimately, retain staff.
To this end, Kieran McKeown predicts that many leaders will have to adjust their management approach in the months ahead. “With the benefit of all the learning of the past 23 months and as workforces begin their return to the workplace, leaders and managers have a golden opportunity to review their management style and see what approach will work best for them – and their teams – in the months ahead,” said Kieran McKeown.
“Attracting talent is a challenge for many sectors right now and 2022 is going to be another dynamic year in the recruitment sector. If business leaders want to hold on to their staff, they need to be aware that their management style (and the style of their managers) as it could influence an employee’s decision to stay or go. Some adjustments may therefore be needed to ensure staff feel appreciated and are happy and motivated in their work. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean radical change but rather, an honest and perhaps independent appraisal of what is and isn’t working and an assessment of how individual management styles are impacting the business.”
Management style: Command and control
After almost two years of pandemic living, employee expectations have changed and there will be plenty of issues to resolve as staff return to the office. There is a genuine worry that many employers will revert to ‘command-and-control’, but this approach will not have the outcome they want in the long run, Kieran warns.
“The post-pandemic era calls for a more compassionate leadership style; bosses need to analyse their decisions more carefully than ever before and consider how they might affect staff. The next few months will not be ‘business as usual’ no more than the last 23 months have been. We are creating a new ‘normal’ yet again and a two-way dialogue with staff will be critical as staff transition to the new world of work.
“By engaging employees, leaders can better understand staff concerns and aim to more quickly and effectively address any issues. This should help promote better morale and employee wellbeing and reduce the risk of stress, anxiety and frustration among team members,” says Kieran.
Management style: Trust
Remote work and flexitime will be key issues for many business owners and leaders in the weeks and months ahead. Many employees have enjoyed their time working from home as it has allowed for a better work/life balance, but the big question for many is whether their employer will be open to continuing this practice.
Kieran believes that most leaders are already on board with the idea, at least on a hybrid basis: “Many managers who I have spoken with would never have considered facilitating a hybrid policy pre-pandemic, but they have shifted their thinking in the wake of COVID-19.
“Managers had to learn to trust their staff a lot more during the pandemic when working from home was the order of the day. These managers are now better able to see how remote work might look on a permanent basis and are open to allowing staff to WFH part-time, or for some, indefinitely.”
While some staff may be reluctant to return to the office, other staff members may see it as an opportunity to have better access to their managers and gain more experience, particularly if they are only at the beginning of their career journey. This is where a coaching leadership style comes into its own, but it does require a lot of time and effort, according to Kieran McKeown.
“Coaching leadership style focuses on collaboration and personal improvement, it offers a constructive approach to personal and professional development while remaining focused on goals. However, coaching is an intensive leadership style that requires a lot of time and energy input and it’s something many managers have had to pull back on during the pandemic while their staff worked remotely.
“However, there is a lot to be said for the experience you gain from listening to and watching managers or peers in the workplace, particularly for those on the first few rungs of the career ladder. For leaders that want to make a difference, there is an opportunity to nurture talent more closely again and help staff fine tune their skills with side-by-side coaching, one-to-one meetings and by simply leading by example,” said Kieran.
While Kieran acknowledges that there will be plenty to figure out in the months ahead, he believes that by adapting management styles, listening to employee’s needs, and changing ways of working, companies can support employees as they transition back into the workplace while maintaining productivity, retaining top talent and even attracting new talent.