When it comes to management styles, every small business owner is unique.
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Even so, most management styles fall into two broad categories: Top-down and team-based. The big question is which style is best for small businesses?
The answer is both - and neither! There is no single management style that works for every small business scenario.
Instead, management styles need to be tailored to meet the specific demands of specific situation. Sometimes, a top-down management style is more effective, while other situations call for a more team-based approach.
In recent years, top-down management has been viewed less favorably than other styles of management. However, sometimes a top-down management style is essential to the success of a project.
Projects that have tight deadlines or involve multiple departments require a centralized form of leadership that team-based management styles simply can't offer. Although input from a broader team of stakeholders may be helpful, time constraints and practical concerns make broad-based input impossible.
The keys to successfully utilizing a top-down management style are clarity and decisiveness. As the manager, it is important to clearly communicate your expectations to each person who has a role to play in the project. When communicating expectations, you should be as specific as possible since ambiguity opens the door for potential failure.
Likewise, top-down management requires the manager to be decisive, yet willing to make adjustments when circumstances change. If you hesitate or falter in your decision-making responsibilities, your employees may view it as a sign that their confidence in your leadership ability has been misplaced.
Team-based management is an approach that proactively seeks the input of multiple stakeholders in the decision-making process. Although the final decision may technically fall to the business owner, key employees are invited to participate in every step of the process and the team as a whole agrees on a course of action.
Since team-based management engages multiple perspectives within the company, some business owners feel they can make decisions with greater confidence, knowing that they have taken the necessary steps to ensure that all the bases have been covered. This is especially useful if the business is launching a new project or exploring new opportunities that don't have tight deadlines.
However, team-based management does have a downside. With so many stakeholders involved in the decision-making process, the assignment of roles can sometimes create ambiguity. Further complications arise when responsibilities for specific aspects of a project are distributed to different stakeholders without a clear mechanism for communication.
The key to overcoming both of these obstacles is for the business owner or other key employee to serve as a coordinator for the project, clarifying roles and maintaining clear lines of communication throughout the organization.