Carrot, stick? Or turn the other cheek?

Do your people managers lavish their teams with praise, recognition and trust?  Or do they rule by the rod, discipline as soon as someone “steps out of line”?  Or, perhaps arguably the worst of all, do they do neither of those and instead have very little engagement with their people, preferring to bury their heads in the sand with no management style to speak of at all?

We may believe that the carrot school of people management is the most effective – everyone should be recognised and rewarded for their efforts, right?  Absolutely, if it’s meaningful, sincere and timely.  However, there are managers who, perhaps fearful of confrontation or being seen as the bad guy, shower praise on their people without substance, so eventually all feedback becomes hollow and has no value.  This type of people manager can sometimes be perceived as weak, providing no clear guidance or vision.

The stick school of people management, where conduct and performance are driven by the strict enforcement of rules, policies and procedures, may provide clarity of expected behaviours, but rarely does it produce engaged or empowered employees who are enthusiastic about taking ownership of and accountability for their own roles and development.

The third style of management, turning the other cheek, can be the most destructive of all; resulting in employees having little or no idea of what’s expected of them, no understanding of whether they’re performing well or poorly, and no motivation to stretch themselves.

The people manager who fails to address matters of misconduct, toxic behaviour or poor performance ultimately loses the respect and trust of their teams, and those individuals who might be your potential shining stars will simply stop trying to impress and will eventually leave or, even worse, become completely demotivated, disengaged and stay.

Over many years of observing a whole array of management styles, the most effective people managers are those who trust their teams to do the job for which they’re employed to do; motivate, encourage and develop by providing timely, meaningful feedback (both positive and constructive); provide support and understanding when it’s needed, and address any behavioural or performance issues as soon as they arise.  But this isn’t easy to achieve if you’re not a natural people manager, it’s your first management position or you’ve only had poor managers yourself on which to base your experience.

What kind of management style does your organisation foster?  Is there some work to be done in developing and supporting your people managers in leading and motivating their teams more effectively?  Get in touch for an initial chat to see how we can help to give your managers the skills and confidence they need for what is undoubtedly the most challenging part of their role.

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