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5 Management styles that cultivate the most productive teams


“It’s not worth delegating because no one does it as well as I do.”

This is just one of the excuses I hear from managers when I ask why they haven’t delegated low value work to someone else in their team. Alternatively they’ll say, “It takes three times as long to delegate then it does to do it myself,” or even worse, “I don’t mind doing it.”

If you’re one of the many leaders who says such things you’re unlikely to have a highly productive team. Why? Because you and your team members are either not working on the right high value tasks to move the company forward, or your team has inefficiencies which are not being addressed.

As a leader it’s your responsibility to develop the capability of your team to help them be highly efficient and effective. You should also be spending your time on the right activities to move the team forward. Every time you work on a task which is below your level of capability you’re losing time which should be devoted to strategic and leadership tasks.

When your team is efficient, they are highly organised and get their work done to a standard of quality and within timeframes. When your team is effective, your team members are clear on their goals and high value activities and they focus on these activities as much as possible.

So, which management styles cultivate the most productive teams?

1. Transparent Managers

These managers are clear about strategy and expectations.

pac executive’s recent Workplace Productivity Survey of 1385 Australians found that lack of direction from management was a major productivity challenge for nearly 40% of us. What’s more interesting though, is that employees who identified as being unproductive and unhappy were also more likely to say they lack direction from management.

When you’re leading a team, it’s important to communicate company strategy and team goals and explain to each team member how their role feeds up into company strategy. Clarity of purpose is essential for employees when they are determining what to do on a day to day basis.

2. Interested Managers

Managers who understand their team’s strengths and weaknesses and delegate accordingly.

Gallup completed some research in 2013 which demonstrates why this kind of manager encourages a highly productive team. What they found was that employees who received feedback about their strengths were 61% more likely to report feeling engaged, employees who received feedback on their weaknesses only were 45% more likely to report feeling engaged, whereas employees who received no feedback at all had only a 2% chance of feeling engaged.

Research into productivity and performance tells us that employee’s feel most energised when they are working on tasks and activities that they are good at and that they love. These aren’t always the same things. When it comes to delegating tasks and responsibilities, effective managers will take both into account.

Delegate a task which aligns with an employee’s strengths and you’re likely to get a better outcome, however when you are mindful about delegating tasks to employees to help them develop areas of weakness you also develop capability. An interested manager will be able to mindfully delegate the right task, to the right team member at the right time for their development and engagement.

3. Personalised Managers

These are the managers who understand the goals of each team member and seek alignment with company goals when delegating work. Inevitably employees are more engaged when they understand the “what’s in it for me?” An effective manager will both take time to understand employee’s values and goals, and explain how their work aligns to their short and long term goals.

Of course, if there isn’t an alignment, there may also not be a fit. Sometimes this will mean the manager has to help the employee to move on to other opportunities which better suit their motivations.

4. Empowering Managers

No one likes to be micro-managed. Some team members still need encouragement to make decisions without running to management every few minutes. Managers who can step up and be strategic, thereby allowing their employees the opportunity to make mistakes and learn, lead the most productive teams.

When it comes to delegating tasks, empowering managers realise that employees won’t be as good as they are (to begin with anyway) but understand that investing their time in teaching their employees to be the leaders of tomorrow, they are both encouraging their teams to be more productive, and they are ensuring sustainability for the business in the long term.

5. Healthy and Happy Managers

Managers who have balance in their lives provide a better example to employees then those who are workaholics. They are also more relatable and tend to have higher levels of retention. pac executive’s Workplace Productivity research found that employees who were happy were 23% more likely to be productive and have productive habits. Whereas employees who were productive were 14% more likely to be happy. We also found that employees who earned $300,000 per year or more were amongst the most likely cohort to report being unhappy at work.

Managers who put happiness first by investing in their health and wellbeing are more likely to encourage their employees to do so. These types of employees are more likely to be responsive, creative, build good relationships, and have perspective during times of stress and conflict than those who do not.

About the author:

UntitledCholena Orr is a business builder who is passionate about mindfulness and lifting people up. She is the Director of pac executive Human Capital – a training, coaching and consulting business offering a range of models designed to support Human Capital needs throughout the business lifecycle.