Carrot or Stick Management

Carrot or Stick Management

September 27th, 2011 // 4:42 pm @

Recent extensive research commissioned by LRN ( looked at the style of management within companies from the board room to the shop floor. They broke down management style into three categories:

  1. Command and Control – 43% of respondents viewed their organization in this way.
  2. Top down / Skilled Management – 54% thought their company had a top down managerial style, but with skilled management.
  3. Self Governance – Only 3% of those surveyed thought their company allowed self governance. Although interestingly eight times as many CEO’s though their companies allowed Self Governance, as their subordinates. Sadly showing how many CEOs believe their own PR, and are out of touch with their staff.

LRN have chosen three groupings, however there is a spectrum from totally dictatorial, to completely autonomous.

Not surprisingly those in the Top Down and Self Governance groups are more committed, believe good ideas will be more accepted, and are therefore more prone to offering ideas.

Conversely those in Command and Control companies were less committed, and less prone to offer ideas. They also reported seeing significantly more “unethical behavior”, but interestingly were afraid to tackle it.

The base premise of the research is the nearer you get to “Self Governance” the better. That is the popular view in present western culture and one that is dangerous to question.

However, as in any area of thought there is a counter argument, even if it is at odds with the general view of today.

Self Governance brings with it very significant upsides in motivation, commitment and retention of coworkers. But conversely it will tend to slow decision making, lower the level of direction within an organization and lower individual responsibility.

At the other end of the scale, “Command and Control” will make for fast clear decision making at the expense of individual commitment and contribution.

There is an old and therefore untrendy management theory that the trick of management is to balance the task, the team and the individual. And that in different circumstances that balance may need to change. The theory expounds the very sensible idea that flexibility of management style dependent on circumstance is actually the clever way to manage.

In that theory I believe we have the best insight into how to manage effectively. Be really connected to your coworkers, know when to be totally democratic, and when to dictate. There are appropriate times for both and everything in between.

There is simply not one management style for every circumstance. If you want to manage effectively one must learn to adapt.

Category : Blog &Leadership

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