By Catherine Stothart
A version of this article was published in the UK in CIPD Regional Insights, June 2022.
Management style is the second most common cause of stress at work, after workload[i]. Managers are at the heart of people’s experience of their workplace. What they do and say has a big impact on how their teams think and feel, and hence on motivation, engagement, and performance.
It’s often difficult to be aware of the impact of your behaviour – what you do and say – on the people around you, especially when you are busy and have to adapt to new ways of working, and in many-cases, manage more remote workers. The Interaction Styles framework helps you realise which of four styles you tend to fall into when communicating. People with each style have specific things to achieve when they interact, and specific things that cause stress. Each style has pros and cons, depending on the situation.
Which of these four styles of interaction do you adopt most often? And what impact does this have on the people around you?
Are you a determined manager who mobilises people to get on with the task quickly, and feel stressed when nothing is being accomplished? You probably come across as decisive, straightforward, direct, and confident. You might forge ahead without allowing consultation and getting buy-in; you might also be seen by others as impatient or demanding. Top tip: slow down and be patient with others.
Are you an engaging manager who energises others to collaborate, but feel stressed when others do not want to be involved? You probably come across as outgoing, enthusiastic, persuasive, and expressive. But you might put so much effort into generating involvement that your team loses focus on the goals, and you might be seen by others as frantic or unfocused. Top tip: calm down and listen to others.
Are you a focused manager who navigates a path to achieve your goals and feels stressed when you do not know what is going to happen? You probably come across as deliberate, measured, calm and somewhat reserved. But you might appear unwilling to consider other options and be seen by others as too serious and distant. Top tip: Relax and smile.
Are you an approachable manager who synthesises information and input from others, but feel stressed if there is not enough time to get the best result? You probably come across as quiet, patient, open, and unassuming. You might omit to tell others how you are integrating their views into your decision-making, and you might be seen as indecisive or unassertive. Top tip: Speak up and be specific.
Being aware of the four styles means you can rely on your strengths for the right situations and can flex it in other situations to have the positive impact and influence that you want. Managing the downsides of your style leads to a more empathic approach, better suited to the post-pandemic world of hybrid working, skills shortages and reduced well-being[ii].
[i] CIPD. (2021) Health and wellbeing at work survey 2021. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
[ii] Harvard Business Review survey 2021 and The Gallup State of the Global Workplace 2021 Report
Catherine Stothart is a Leadership Coach working with multi-national companies including Airbus and Google. Her best-selling first book, How to Get On with Anyone, (2018, Pearson) is a guide to understanding others and communicating with confidence and charisma. Her latest book, Motivation: The Ultimate Guide to Leading your Team, sets out how to lead others to fulfil their purpose and potential. Readers can get 20% off for orders placed by 31st December, using discount code FLE22.
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Disclaimer: The ideas, views, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Institute for Learning or any entities they represent.