What is your management style?

by The Times 100 on Monday 30th November, 2009

Many business leaders state the importance of their human resources. A workforce that is skilled and motivated is desirable for any organisation. OPITO, The Oil and Gas Academy, works with employers and trade unions to establish agreed safety standards in the oil and gas industry. It also helps employers in the industry to develop safe and competent workers by identifying training needs in areas such as health and safety as well as developmental needs like leadership skills. Once the skills gaps have been identified, OPITO links workers to the relevant training providers. OPITO recognises that to get the best out of a workforce, managers need to adopt the appropriate management styles. In turn, management style can have major impact on motivation. Although an autocratic style may need to be adopted where matters of health and safety are at stake, a democratic style of leadership can result in employees' higher order needs being met.

You may not think that a charitable organisation has to apply any of kind of management style, however the same principles of leadership and organisation still apply for co-ordinating groups of volunteers. Since April 2009 there has been a 12% increase in the number of volunteers at Barnardo's, as people look for the 'feelgood factor' and want to give something back to society. Charities need to manage themselves and their resources (people, time and funding) like other organisations. However, they are more likely to adopt a democratic management style with an element of persuasion, as many of the people who work for charities are volunteers giving their free time to help others. As an example, a group called The Kindness Offensive has started carrying out charitable tasks, such as organising a birthday party for a little girl, by asking favours from different companies. It even managed to persuade food producer General Mills to provide 25 tons of provisions to feed 75,000 people in London. (The Sunday Times 29th November 2009).

By using different styles of management, the motivational needs of workers can be met. For example, within the oil and gas industry, an autocratic style of management may be needed to ensure worker safety, whereas a more democratic style can lead to greater employee participation and therefore boost their self-esteem.

Questions

  1. List the five levels in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
  2. Write a mnemonic to help you remember the different management styles (autocratic, paternalistic, democratic, participative, laissez-faire)
  3. Using the OPITO case study, discuss whether an autocratic management style is most suitable in the oil and gas industry

Answers to questions

1. List the five levels in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

  • Self-actualisation
  • Esteem
  • Social
  • Safety
  • Basic (physiological)

2. Write a mnemonic to help you remember the different management styles (autocratic, paternalistic, democratic, participative, laissez-faire) e.g. All Postmen Deliver Precious Letters

3. Using the OPITO case study, discuss whether an autocratic management style is most suitable in the oil and gas industry On the one hand: An autocratic style would be appropriate:

  • With health and safety issues
  • During a crisis situation
  • When working to a tight deadline However, a more democratic style could be more suitable:
  • With highly skilled and creative workers
  • To allow employees to feel valued
  • To encourage personal development of the workers
  • In a 'flat' organisational structure

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