As we are all aware there are multiple management styles (directive, authoritative, affiliative and participatory), each of which has its benefits and disadvantages. (I won’t go into a full description of different management styles but if you are interested in an overview you can find that here and many other places online just by doing a search.)
I think it is important to understand each of these management styles because as a manager there will be a time to use each. If you are aware of them and how to use them appropriately you can ensure that you have a non-oppressive work environment. Conversely, using them improperly can lead to a disloyal, unmotivated, burnt out and down trodden workforce. Many argue that being authoritative is the worst of the management styles however, depending on what is going on in your organization, this may be completely appropriate.
In addition to being able to maneuver through the different types of management styles and knowing when it is most appropriate to use each and how, I think it is crucial for Social Care or Social Work mangers are able to exert certain roles. These being:
– Enforcer (yes this may be a harsh word but it is true nonetheless) of policies and procedures as appropriate ton ensure we are doing the work that safeguards both clients and workers
– Compassionate change managers: being able to implement change management programs that may be driven by legislative or policy changes but that is planned, taking into account both the skills, needs and capacity of the workforce they directly manage.
– Holders of accountability: both their accountability to those they manage as well as the accountability of those they manage to those with whom they work
– Containers: effective managers need to be able to contain their staff during periods of change, crises, anxiety provoking and stressful situations. They need to be able to maintain calm and make decisions in the best interest of the organization, the client base and the individual workers.
– Decision makers: as stated, managers need to be able to maintain calm and make decisions in the best interest of the organization, the client base and the individual workers.
– They need to be able to offer guidance to ensure that work is moving on and progress is being made with the work a practitioner is undertaken with his/her clients.
– Balanced safeguarder: Managers need to understand their duties to safeguard not on vulnerable clients but also members of staff. There needs to be on going and accurate assessment of staff capabilities as well as on going risk assessment of individual client circumstances for the benefit of all.
– Managers, at all levels, need to understand they are part of an overall structure where each part has its purpose but on one part is exclusively more important than the others.
– Managers are responsible for development of their workers (and themselves in order to stay relevant and make informed decisions). Managers need to ensure development is pitched at the level of the worker to serve the needs of the clients.
– Managers need to engage in balanced measurement. As officers of an organization, manager need to be able to judge the efficiency of their staff against established standards. However, they also need to ensure that the interventions staff are implementing are effective. It is about more than just meeting performance targets. we need to ensure that we are making a positive impact.
There’s my two cents.
Having said all that though, I do believe there is a distinct difference between managers and leaders. Managers can be leaders and vice versa, but not all possess the ability. We shall leave that for another day.