Posted 05 August 2003 - 11:56 PM
A long time ago I actually took some practical managment courses. One thing I actually found useful was the 5 initiative types. The idea was that every employee goes through (ideally - some get stuck) 5 levels of initiative and that the appropriate management style varies depending on the employees level.
Level 1. Waits to be told. This is the new hire, or the new transfer. They have no idea what to do, and asking them what they think they should do is good cause for panic. Best management style is Directive. Tell them what to do and how to do it, in small steps, with feedback. Micromanagment is actually good here.
Level 2. Asks what to do. Now they are getting more comfortable, but still need to be told what to do. Best style is Directive, but with more feedback - start doing a little Coaching.
Level 3. Recommends Action. Many employees stay here. They know their jobs and are confident enough to recommend things related to that job. Best Management style is Coach. Encourage independent thinking and give lots of feedback. Follow up, but don't hover.
Level 4. Takes Action, reports immediately. They know whats wrong and have the knowledge and confidence to fix it. After fixing it, they tell you right away. Start looking at management training for this kind of employee. Best Style is Consultive (Think Capt Picard of Star Trek - asks for options, then gives the orders) with some coaching. The worst thing managers do here is start trusting the employee to the point of ignoring them. Still do coaching, and routine (but not constant) feedback/followup.
Level 5. Takes action, reports routinely. This person is ready for management training or even management. They know what to do, do it, and let you know on time, but don't follow you around with reports/emails. Consultation is best, with routine follow up and guidance, but trust them.
Sorry about the speech, but I've seen a lot of managers that stick to only one style, and end up with a lot of dissatisfied employees. You don't abandon some poor newbie anymore than you micromanage your stars. Different strokes for different folks.
The other thing to remember is that everyone goes through these steps, but the speed can vary greatly. If they are an expert already and are just new to your company, they can go through all 5 stages in less than a week. Others may stay at level 1 or 2 their whole lives and be happy about it.