Management styles vary from business to business. Bosses, however, can often fit into one of three categories: strict, friendly, hypocritical. Which one are you?
Large companies are often run by several managers and bosses who form a variety of hierarchies. In small business, however, the boss is often someone who has regular contact with each of their staff members. It should be clear that how you’re perceived by your employees can have a significant impact on staff morale, productivity and overall worker satisfaction.
Your management style can be dependent upon a number of business-related factors:
past work experiences
While management styles can differ greatly, there are three particular types that are often seen in small business – and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
The ‘strict’ boss
Most small business owners are, by nature, extremely driven. They are aware of how difficult it can be to remain afloat and take their role very seriously.
The strict boss tends to manage in a more structured and authoritarian manner. They are aware that even small errors could have a negative impact on their business, and do their utmost to prevent them from occurring.
On the upside, the strict boss offers consistent management, which allows staff the freedom of dependable expectations. A strict boss also offers clarity and minimises confusion by outlining exactly what they expect.
On the other hand, the strict boss may intimidate certain staff members and can at times lack flexibility. They can leave staff confused as to why something they consider to be of minimal importance is being regarded with such seriousness.
If you recognise yourself as a strict boss, you can aim to be more flexible, make yourself more freely available to your staff members and remember that passion – not fear – drives the workplace.
The ‘friend’ boss
It’s easy to form friendships within the workplace, particularly in small business. Regular contact with staff members combined with long hours means a small business owner must invest in running their enterprise, as well as getting to know their staff on a personal level. While being a friend as well as a boss can create a positive environment and encourage honesty from your staff, it can be difficult at times to find a good balance.
While most employees react positively to friendship with their bosses, there is the potential for the dual roles to encourage a loss of respect, and sometimes leave staff feeling as though they are entitled to question their superior’s instructions.
Define boundaries from the offset. Value your staff members’ input and suggestions, but make it clear that your role is to run the business how you see fit. Avoid lengthy conversations about non-business related topics. Everyone likes to talk about their own interests, but aim to keep your personal and work lives relatively separate – and feel free to remind your employees that there is work to be done.
The ‘hypocrite’ boss
Perhaps the most damaging boss is one who takes both the strict and friendly approaches. The hypocrite boss can be inconsistent when it comes to correcting employees who have made a mistake. For example, they may decide to punish a latecomer while failing to address their own errors.
Staff can generally appreciate strictness in a boss, especially if they can clearly see the goals the business is trying to accomplish. However, when punishment is handed down on an inconsistent basis, respect is quickly lost.
If you find yourself more in this management category, decide what things you will and won’t accept in the workplace and stick to them. Allowing staff to use Facebook one day and then reprimanding them the next will leave them questioning your decisions.
Remember that while you may be the boss, you are also an employee of your own business. Your staff will respond to how you treat them and their fellow employees, so hold yourself up to the same standards as you do with them.
Nick Petrovic is a registered psychologist and head of clinic at the Mind Profile Psychology Clinic and has more than 10 years' experience in the allied health and business. Nick has contributed to regular columns in more than a dozen business magazines and newspapers, advising on issues such as mental health, work related stress, strategic planning, business analysis and human resources.