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Management Styles

30 October, 2015 - 15:52

Learning Objectives

  1. Define the various types of management styles.
  2. Explain how we can determine which style to use in a variety of situations.

Management style ties in very closely with communication style. There isn’t necessarily one management style that is better than another; they are simply different and might be used in a variety of situations. HR managers can provide training on each of these areas since management style impacts the ability and motivation of employees to do their jobs. This is addressed in Retention and Motivation".


One of the most famous Fortune 500 management styles is the GE Way, which has been discussed in numerous books and articles. In fact, GE has traditionally been the recruiting ground for other companies’ CEO searches. When Jack Welch, the famous GE CEO known for several books on his management style, including Winning, retired and was replaced, it took less than a week for the two runners-up for his job to be offered jobs at other Fortune 500 companies. Home Depot recruited Robert Nardellia and 3M recruited W. James McNearney.  1 However, the command-and-control management style responsible for the success of GE did not work out well for several former GE executives. Command-and-control style is based on military management. The idea is to get people to do what you tell them to do, and if they don’t, there are major penalties, similar to an autocratic style. Many say that Nardellia was unsuccessful at Home Depot because of this ingrained management style learned at GE.  2 For example, Nardellia insisted that shelves be stocked during off hours, and he instituted formal inventory control. Unfortunately, he didn’t understand most employees were not looking to rise within the organization, so the extra work didn’t provide any upside for the individuals, causing high turnover. An autocratic style may work well in some organizations, well enough for numerous books to be written, but management style isn’t always transferable to other organizations, as Nardellia found out at Home Depot.
Management styles are one of the most challenging topics we can deal with in a work setting. Everyone is different; everyone has a preference for which style motivates them the best in a variety of situations. Oftentimes managers make the mistake of using the same style for everyone, regardless of ability or motivation. In this section, we will discuss some of the main management styles and how to know which one to use in a specific situation.