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Are You Mismatched with Your Boss's Management Style?

Updated on October 17, 2012
Is it your boss's style that rubs you the wrong way?
Is it your boss's style that rubs you the wrong way?

Your Needs Must be Aligned with Your Boss's Style

Employees cannot choose their boss, although if they could, many would change bosses in a heartbeat. Many bosses choose their employees, but they evidently do a bad job in selecting them because many bosses soon express disappointment with many of the employees they select soon after they are selected. The problem is not that too many bosses are from hell. In fact, whether a boss is from heaven or from hell is often in the eyes of the beholder, the employees. The same boss may be considered from the heights of heaven in the eyes of one employee and from the depths of hell by another. Neither is the problem one of too many employees being under-qualified for their jobs. The problem, instead, is one of a mismatch between the style of management used by the boss and the needs of the employee.

From studies and research done by management experts, it is commonly accepted that there are four primary management styles that bosses use most or all of the time. From the description of each, you will be able to readily identify the predominate style of your boss. What you may not be able to do so readily is to determine whether the style of management of your boss matches with your needs as an employee. The following may help you do so.

The Four Styles of Management

1. AUTOCRATIC: This is the boss who uses his authority all the time by leaving little doubt as to who is in charge. He makes decisions without asking employees their opinions or for their input and tolerates no second guessing about his decisions. If he gives an order to do something and the employee should have the affront to ask why, his response will be, “because I told you to do it.” This management style is part of the old school of management, or more specifically, the military school of management. It is commonly used by former military types, but also by some new managers who are uncertain of their leadership ability.


Type of Employees that make A Good Match For This Style: Those employees who crave structure in their jobs, who need to be told exactly what to do and how to do it. Those employees who respect decisiveness and authority from their boss, who need to know and feel who is in charge. This type of employee is typically a newer employee still learning the job or a veteran employee who prefers the military style of management.

Type of Employees that make a Bad Match for This Style: practically all other types of employees. In fact, the autocratic style is one main reason that many employees view their boss as being straight from hell and try to leave the job or the organization the first chance they get.

2. Paternalistic: This kind of boss is definitely in charge, make no mistake about that. But, unlike the autocratic boss, he is less concerned about being feared than liked and, at the same time, respected. He makes all the decisions, much like a dictator, but strives to get the employees to see and accept that his decisions are best for them, to defer to him to do the things that are in their best interests.

Types of Employees that make a Good match for This Style: Basically, those employees who are well-matched with the autocratic style, but also those employees who want strong leadership but also want to both respect and like their boss, and not just to fear and respect him.

Types of Employees that Make a Bad match for This Style: Those employees who are more senior, more technically professional, more creative and independent-minded. To these types of employees the paternalistic boss is almost as intolerable as the autocratic one.

3. Democratic: This style does not mean that the manager puts everything to a vote by his employees before he makes a decision. Instead, it means that he believes in delegating work and some responsibilities to his employees. This style is in contrast to the autocratic manager who delegates little because he does not trust employees or is afraid that his employees might become more competent than he.

Types of Employees That Make a Good match for this Style: Younger professional employees, most employees who are highly competent and specialized in their field of skill or knowledge, as well as newer employees that want to become more developed in order to move up in their careers.

Types of Employees That make a Bad match for this Style: Employees less secure in their job competence, those that are not highly professional or committed to their profession or careers.

4. Participative: This style believes in involving the employees in major moves or decisions regarding the business or operation, as opposed to the autocratic style of handing everything from top to bottom. Here the boss shares more information with employees and consults with them before making decisions.

Types of Employees that make a Good match for This Style: Basically, the same types that are well-matched for the Democratic style-those employees who feel that they are skilled, knowledgeable and competent enough to be heard by management and should be given the opportunity to participate in management decisions.

Types of Employees that make a Bad match for this Style: Those employees that prefer the militaristic, autocratic style, that are more comfortable with just being told what to do and let the boss take care of the hard decisions.

5. Laissez Faire: This style believes in delegating as much as possible to the employee and leaving them alone to get it done. It puts more emphasis on results, as opposed to process or procedure. It is the best style for the team approach and it becomes a necessary style with more emphasis on telecommuting and virtual offices.

Types of Employees that make a Good match for this style: Highly professional employees, those that need minimal supervision and can and prefer to work independently.

Types of Employees that make a Bad match for this Style: Those employees that require closer supervision, those still learning the job and those that prefer the more autocratic style of management.

The most modern concept of management styles is called, situational leadership, in which the boss is required to use all of the above styles at various times, depending on the requirements of the situation. However, the reality is that most bosses use one style of management most or all of the time because, regardless of the situation or the nature of the employees they supervise, they are more comfortable with that style and are not very inclined to give it up. This means that if the employee finds that there is a mismatch between the style the boss uses and what he or she prefers, the employee has little hope that the boss will change, even if the style he uses gets poor results from his employees. Since the employee cannot force the boss to change, he or she must tolerate the boss’s style until he or she can find a boss with a better matched style.


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