Whether you love ’em or want to leave ’em, your manager plays a significant role in your work life. And the sooner you understand their management style, the easier your work day becomes.
Weighing in on these managerial styles are a panel of experts: Kathleen Brush has a Ph.D. in management, more than 20 years’ experience as a senior executive and is author of “The Power of One: You’re the Boss.” George Dutch is a career and leadership development consultant at www.jobjoy.com. Jeremy Kingsley is a professional speaker and author of “Inspired People Produce Results. Roberta Matuson is author of “Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around” and president of Matuson Consulting, based in Northampton, Mass.
Check out these common types of managers, as well as advice for a better working relationship.
“[This style] of leadership is the boss who delivers directions in the form of orders, like ‘do this’ or ‘do this now,’” says Brush. “This is the boss that hasn’t quite embraced that he is a leader of thinking, caring people and not cavemen that are fine with communications that sound more like grunts.” If your manager is stuck in the Stone Age, make extra effort to clarify his directions, understand that quarter’s objectives and the projects you’re assigned.
“[This] is one where the boss seems to forget that employees are not like mushrooms — they don’t do well in the dark,” Brush says. “The best thing for an employee to do with a shy boss or one with the Mum style is to give regular prompts or pings for communications. Ask for directions, updates and feedback. This employee may find that she is training her boss, who may have been quite competent as a shy individual contributor, and that’s okay. Employees that help their bosses look good, without making them feel inadequate, will usually find their boss’s gratitude in exchange.”
“The manager prefers to get the work done through the efforts of others — subordinates, assistants, associates — in the manner they, as the boss, determine is correct, appropriate or effective,” Dutch says. The Director is great at moving projects forward and getting work done, though the constant flow of orders may cause some employees to feel over-managed. If you work better with a hands-off manager, strive to show how successful your projects and work can be when done on your own and establish a track record of accomplishments.
“This person is always involved in every aspect, almost like a control freak,” says Kingsley. “They need to know every detail no matter how small and seem to hover around employees watching their every move. A few things that may help in this situation: First, send an email to them with updates often, maybe even on a scheduled day and time. Second, when you see them, mention a few words about how things are going. Assure them with a positive outlook on progress.”
The Warm and Fuzzy Manager
“They always have something nice to say, always mention how great the company is doing and how they think you are doing a great job,” Kingsley says. “Now, encouragement is of course a good thing, but not giving honest feedback is not. First, ask them to be up front and open with you. Second, give them permission to share concerns and constructive criticism.”
The Democratic Manager
“This person likes to draw from the knowledge and skills of other people,” Kingsley says. “They like to create groups and promote brain storming. Depending on the situation, this can be positive or negative. Certain situations can be quickly solved with a group discussion. Certain situations can take a turn for the worse when there are ‘too many cooks in the kitchen.’ First, if asked to be involved, make sure it is an area that you really can add value, don’t just sit in to take up space. Second, when you are in a meeting, speak up and share what you think is best. Be kind but direct.”
The Laissez-faire Manager
This type of manager is hands off, Matuson explains. “[He] provides very little communication and believes that people know exactly what to do without being told. You can best manage this type of boss by being respectful of his time. Ask clarifying questions, keep your boss informed and be prepared to manage your own performance.”
No matter what type of manager you have, remember that the relationship is just as much about you as your boss. “There are bad bosses out there, without a doubt,” Dutch says. “And some workplaces are structurally dysfunctional. But each relationship is a two-way street, and most relationships break down due to poor communications which, in itself, is often a symptom of deeply rooted misunderstandings about what truly motivates us.”