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What's Your Management Style?

Brent Johnson

Twenty years ago, I interviewed a prospective manager to be part of my leadership team and he asked the very pointed question, “What’s your Management Style?”  I was speechless.  I didn’t know there was such a thing.  After that experience, I realized I had a Management Style and I spent several years developing it more formally. 

What is a Management Style?  A Management Style is an overall method of leadership used by a manager.  We have worked for many managers and we probably have picked up a few of their skills along the way. 

Some Management Style include Autocratic, Persuasive, Democratic, Management by Walking Around (MBWA), Inspirational, Authoritative, Collaborative, Results-Based, Strategic and many more. 

With Management Style, there is no one-size-fits-all, but it is important to adopt a style that suits you and gets the most out of your staff.  You can have the best team in the world, but if your management style is poor, it will impact performance. 

I’m going to share with you my Management Style.  I don’t have a name for my Management Style, but I know its principles and can give you some of the details. So here goes…

Principles of my Management Style:

  • Strong accountability
  • Good communication
  • Customer-focused
  • Self-directed work teams
  • No micromanagement

Here’s the details that I used to employ this Management Style:

  1. Personnel Decisions – I believe strongly that you should hire A’s, keep strong B’s and find other places for C’s to go.  If you don’t do this, you will pay the price.  New hires are especially critical.
  2. Goals – It’s very important to have aggressive, measurable goals.
  3. Monthly Accountability Reports – I require each of my employees/managers to give me a monthly report covering three things. First, what was accomplished this month (very concise).  Second, what do you hope to accomplish next month.  Third, do you need my help for anything. This monthly report keeps me informed and is beneficial for the employee to be accountable for their work.
  4. Quarterly Individual Meetings – I meet personally with each direct report to review their work, their goals and offer my services if they need help. There should be no surprises on goal attainment at the end of the year.
  5. Staff Meetings – I believe regular staff meetings are very important.  Whether it’s weekly or bi-weekly, a good staff meeting, with an agenda, keeps everyone informed. 
  6. Customer Service Emphasis – Staying focused on customers is a priority of mine.  Hence, I require all direct reports to have a customer service goal as part of their annual goals.  It’s a simple goal that says: they will maintain an “8” or higher on an anonymous survey given to their key customers in the organization.  To measure this, I send an email survey to 6-8 of each direct report’s key customers asking that they grade this employee on three simple questions related to (1) availability, (2) responsiveness and (3) quality plus any comments.  This is a simple but very powerful tool to keep employees properly focused AND it’s also very helpful in performance reviews. 
  7. Team Work – I want my team to operate as a “self-directed work” team.  I don’t want anyone to think they are islands within the organization.  Hence, I do the customer service goal process for each direct report.  They rate each other on service within the staff. 
  8. Good Performance Reviews – Good, honest annual performance reviews are very important.  The tendency is to be soft and not have difficult discussions.  If you are soft, this will hurt you AND the employee in the long run.   

This is how I have evolved as a Manager over the past 30 years. I haven’t adjusted much because I know it gets the results for what I want, and it matches my personality and personal preferences.  With good goals, monthly reports and quarterly meetings, I don’t have to be a micromanager.  I can use my people skills and passion of Supply Chain to coach and mentor more.