Flexing Your Style

flexibilityIn a knowledge management role, it is important to understand a company’s culture, technology infrastructure and processes. But, everything starts with people. How a culture influences people management styles is critical if you are trying to change behavior, increase adoption new things and inspire collaboration.

A person’s management style is unique to them. I have managed people for years and certainly have a “style” about the way I do that. I believe in collaborating across the team, adequately defining roles and responsibilities to prevent toe crunching, setting goals and allowing employees the freedom to work on their own and propose recommendations and solutions to me. Then, I get out of the way. I manage this way because that’s how I like to be managed.

I have always known that sometimes you have to flex your style a little bit to engage your employees in the manner that suits them. Some employees want to be left alone and others need frequent touchpoints and more direction. I pride myself on being fair. It’s taken me years in people management to realize that fair does not necessarily mean equal. That flexing is necessary for continued employee engagement.

However, recently, I have found that sometimes you not only have to flex your style to meet an employee’s needs but also to fit within a culture especially if it’s new to you. A long-standing culture generally has dictated a management style – command and control, hands-off, hands-on, touchy feely, etc. So, how do you balance your style, your employees’ needs and the culture’s paradigm?

I’m not sure I have all the answers. I think this is why managing people is so difficult, why it is truly a discipline and why it’s not for everyone. Finding simple and small ways to flex for all of these reasons without compromising you and your abilities is the secret. 

For example, if a culture is command and control, perhaps you should try to be a change agent here. I actually have never found command and control to be effective. Touchy feely – Check in more than you’d like to with your employees if it’s expected; spend time talking about the weekend. Hands-on – offer to review things more than you’re used to. Hands-off – delegate and let a few things go!

I think finding these small items to flex on makes a world of difference. Stretching ourselves as a people manager can only help us succeed.

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