management relationshipIt is the quality of management relationship with employees at all levels that determines the success of senior leadership in an organization. No matter what the size of the business, the executive management group sets the tone in the workplace. That is what influences the productivity of staff and how they work together.

The various styles of management speak to the kind of management relationship in an organization. Although many management theories use different labels, there are basically four approaches.

Styles of management relationship

1.    The first one is an authoritarian manager who simply tells his employees what to do and expects them to comply. Interactions are formal and business like, with the focus on work results.
2.    The permissive manager has a very different kind of management relationship with his employees. He encourages them to be involved in the decision making, often deferring to them. There is an informal work environment with much socializing.
3.    Another kind of manager is laissez-faire. This means that the manager is detached from the work being done, hiding out in his office, and making decisions only when pressed. Employees are probably unsure exactly what kind of management relationship they have with him. It also means that stronger-minded employees can take over and run the shop.
4.    The participative manager demonstrates a more balanced management relationship in a workplace. He takes responsibility for the work that has to be done, but he involves the employees in decision making, soliciting their input and seriously considering it. This is a team leader who also encourages the development of his staff.

Effective management relationship

There are no right or wrong styles, but an effective manager will take the time and effort to consider the impact of his style on his management relationship with staff and, through them, with customers or clients. He needs to understand his own personal style, exactly who he is inside his own head. That way he will not try to adopt a style that is unnatural as that will only result in an obvious tension. For example, it would be very difficult for a formal, reserved person to try to socialize with the admin support staff at coffee every day.  If he did, the staff would “smell a rat” and most likely react in a way that did not fulfil his intention.

A manager will also want to decide if his style is consistent with the organizational culture. He could consider the expectations of the organization and what is appropriate to the actual work being done. The management relationship with employees in a factory with a quota on the production line might be quite different from the way they would act together in a healthcare facility where the focus is always on the patient. It is important, though, for him to remember the influence he has on this workplace environment for which he is ultimately accountable.

The needs of the work situation are another factor in determining the management relationship with staff. If the business is crisis driven, there is no time for a senior manager to be engaging the staff in making daily decisions. It is hoped that everyone would know exactly what his or her role is and how it plays out in specific situations.

Perhaps saying that the most appropriate approach to the management relationship with staff is whatever meets the needs of the specific situation can sum up all these concepts. This requires a manager who is knowledgeable, flexible, sensitive to the needs of the work and of the people doing it, and he is not afraid to act.

Various types of management relationship

It must be remembered that a management relationship is not just with employees as a work team, but also with each of them individually. For a successful manager, this means providing supportive supervision, recognizing each employee’s strengths and challenges and working with them. A proven, effective process is for a manager to meet regularly with each member of staff who reports directly to him. This could be once a week or once a month, depending on the demands of the workplace.

These regular one-on-one meetings definitely strengthen the management relationship. The message to staff is that each one of them is important enough to have a scheduled time when they can discuss issues they are having with the work or even with colleagues. They know that they will receive support and coaching to improve any weaknesses. And, for a good relationship, the manager will make sure he also recognizes the employee’s strengths and is willing to facilitate training and development to build on them.
If the manager has done his homework about his leadership style and the way in which he supervises, he can be confident that his relationship with staff is consistent and solid. They know that he is there to support them. The bottom line is that a good management relationship with staff means that, together, they can cope with difficult times as well as the successes.

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