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Types of managerial behaviours – is everyone cut out to be a manager?

Many people dream that in the course of their career path they reach a moment they get promoted to a managerial position. Almost everyone is able to mention mistakes of their manager. However, would we be able to avoid mistakes in managing people the moment we take a managerial position? What determines the fact that some people are perfect at supervising work of other people, while others are not able to assign and enforce a tasks on subordinates? Is it possible to learn being a good manager? The purpose of this article is the attempt to answer the above questions.

At first, however, let us answer the question who the manager is and what we understand by the types of managerial behaviours. According to the PWN Dictionary, manager is a ‘person whose basic task is to execute the process of management – decision making, planning and organising’. By analogy, then, under the sorts of managerial behaviours we understand the generality of the manager’s conduct towards an employee who is to perform the entrusted task and orders effectively.

The article is divided into three parts: presenting a few types of managerial behaviour, description of mistakes one comes across when managing employees and ways to avoid those mistakes.

Are all of us suited to manage employees subordinate to ourselves? Sorts of managerial behaviours

In the available literature we may encounter many classifications of managerial behaviour. They are created based on the type of personality of a manager, their relations with subordinates, concentration on tasks effectiveness and subordinates’ maturity.

I will begin the description from Sergie’s[1] concept, which distinguishes ways of managing subordinates and pays attention to the manager personality. He specifies five styles of managing employees:   

a) personal – describes egocentric managers. They are demanding, sure about their infallibility, as a rule, making independent decisions concerning the assignment of duties between subordinates. Such a manager demands from their employees full discipline of and compliance with its principles; often controls subordinates;

b) personal impulsive – managers characterized by this style often manage their team chaotically. They are very impulsive and creative, often change their mind, hence, they have a problem with the task execution and assignment;

c) collective – managers typical of this style identify themselves with their own team. Together with the group they decide on the task assignment, are kind towards subordinates;

d) calm – putting problems in the right order and peace are the basic features of such manager. Decisions are made after thorough analysis of the task, with a complete peace of mind.

e) impersonal – characteristic of very reserved, distanced managers. They are mainly rational, do not get involved emotionally in professional matters.

Reddin’s concept[2], which pays attention to relations between the manager and their subordinates is a next way of understanding the types of managerial behaviours. It classifies behaviours of managers into four types:

f) social – this manager focuses mainly on relations with employees, puts little pressure on task performance; has good relations with subordinates, intervenes and resolves conflicts between them;

g) comprehensive – concentrates on the tasks performed by employees. This manager often puts emphasis on individual skills of employees, sets ambitious goals and takes care of their professional development;

h) isolating – has a problem with establishing relations and cooperation with subordinates. Is focused both on tasks and employees, is rational and rarely overwhelmed by emotions;

i) self-sacrificing – such manager wants to dominate over subordinates, is focused mainly on performing a task. According to them, punishing and awarding employees is the best method of management, treats employees exclusively as an important part in performing a task.

The next style of management is focused on the way the employee is rewarded by their manager for the assigned tasks. The author of this concept is S. Kwiatkowski[3]. According to him, two sorts of the responsibility are distinguished: heteronomous and autonomous. First one is characterized by well precise expectations and instructions. However sanctions for non-performance of the task are severe. The autonomous responsibility describes a situation, in which the subordinate receives general assumptions concerning a task, has a great level of self-reliance to execute the assignment. Yet, the sanctions are relatively lenient. The author of the concept paying attention to two styles of controlling subordinates:

j) task-orientation – the manager put emphasis mainly on the correctness of performing a task;

k) subordinate-orientation – the aim is to motivate employee and to verify their results at work.

With the last style of managing employees, which I would like to discuss in the present article, is the Evolutionary theory of the Herseya and Blancharda leadership[4]. They draw their attention around the maturity of subordinates, rather than the manager. By maturity they understand both desire for taking the responsibility for the tasks, and the experience acquired on a taken position. According to this concept, the style of managing employees depends on the degree of an employee’s maturity. They distinguish four styles of controlling subordinates:

l) prescriptive – applied mainly amongst employees with little or no professional experience. The goal of the manager is to train a subordinate what the simplest way to perform the assigned task is. Very important elements are: accurate instruction, how to execute a task as well as feedback concerning the level of execution of the task (praise, constructive criticism);

m) supporting – is present at moderate experience of employees. The manager still supports and instructs the subordinate as for the way of performing a task. Nevertheless, one slowly diverges from fully instructing an employee and shows greater confidence towards the employee;

n) participatory – at this stage the manager completely diverges from a directive approach towards employee, lets them solve the assigned problems on their own; if necessary gives advice and support;

o) delegating – regards employees with great experience. The manager assigns the subordinate a task, lets them solve it on their own. At this stage self-reliance of an employee is valued.

According to this theory, a manager’s role is to ensure an employee an adequate pace of acquiring professional experience. Development of a subordinate should be held at the appropriate pace, adapted to employee’s possibilities and abilities on a given position.

To sum up, the available literature lets us distinguish different styles of controlling subordinates by managers. It is worthwhile to emphasise that a perfect managerial style allowing for achieving best results in a given team does not exist. An extremely important skill in the manager’s work is adapting a specific style to the task and the team they manage. A good managerial style should be marked by a considered attitude towards employees and the optimal use of their experience in favour of the company. Managing subordinates in a wrong way, may cause many problems, which I discussed below.

The possible consequences of mismanagement of employees

As a rule, a conflict between the manager and the subordinate based on non-acceptance of the rules of team management is the first and most common problem. It often leads to a ‘devilish circle’.

What is this mechanism based on? Let me quote an example to make it more comprehensible. The manager assigns one employee too much work, whereas, assigns definitely less work to others, considering at least the potential of subordinates. A ‘busy’ employee becomes more irritated, gets stressed more often, starts to make mistakes performing their duties. However, they do not inform their manager about the quantity of work exceeding their capacity. The manager can see the fall in the effectiveness of the employee and starts feeling disregarded by them, starts controlling them more. The employee is getting more and more outraged and feels dislike for the manager. The manager again feels like treated more and more unseriously by their subordinate. The conflict on the line manager- employee increases, making the further cooperation impossible at some point. Then, as a rule, the employee either quits job themselves or is dismissed. In the situation when an experienced employee resigns from their post, a company loses a lot. Training a new subordinate takes a lot of time, what is more, the company will gain negative opinions. That will cause a fall in an interest in taking the employment there. Let us not forget about a very important issue – a trained employee, who decides to walk away, ‘takes out’ know-how from the company as well. That is why they become an attractive employee for competitive companies. This way the losses of the company may be even more severe.

How to deal with this problem? Is it possible to avoid the ‘devilish circle’? The answer to this question is in the next part of the article.

Avoiding mistakes in the mismanagement of employees

Of course it is possible to avoid the consequence of the ‘devilish circle’. The first very important aspect to protect managers from the consequences of mismanagement of employees is a conversation. Building trust, sense of security amongst employees and the skill of carrying out a conversation with them, lets us optimally adjust the requirements and tasks to each of them. An employee who feels understood and appreciated by their manager becomes emotionally related to the company, and as a consequence, thinks about the changing their job more rarely. It is worth remembering that a manager cannot let themselves for excessive relaxing the atmosphere in the team – then, the effectiveness of their team will start to fall…      

The second important element in building correct relations between the manager and their subordinate is carrying out periodic evaluation. Thanks to it, the employee gets to know how they are perceived by the superior, what their prospects of the possible professional development in stages of the company are. Periodical evaluation also let the very employee give his opinion about the manager – their skills of team management, relations with the subordinates.

So it seems obvious that adapting the management style to the type of every employee individually is an important task of the manager. It will allow for creating a perfect team. Paula Coelho expressed it very competently: ‘Well, the team of workers is like an orchestra, and a good manager like a conductor knows, who plays out of tune, who plays clearly and tries hard, and who does not strain themselves much’.          

Iwona Pilichowska



Hersey P., Blanchard K., Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing

Human Resources, Englewood Cliffs, Printice-Hall, Inc., New York 1982.

Kieżun W., Kwiatkowski S., Style zarządzania. Teoria i praktyka, KiW, Warszawa 1970.

Żukowski, A. Muszyński, Łazowska H., Techniki zarządzania i style kierowania, BWSH, Koszalin1998.


[1] P. Żukowski, A. Muszyński, H. Łazowska, Techniki zarządzania i style kierowania, BWSH, Koszalin1998.

[2] Ibidem.

[3] W. Kieżun, S. Kwiatkowski, Style zarządzania. Teoria i praktyka, KiW, Warszawa 1970.

[4] P. Hersey, K. Blanchard, Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing

Human Resources, Englewood Cliffs, Printice-Hall, Inc., New York 1982.