Less Pushing And More Pulling

If you’re a manager, you should know that in many workplaces you’re the face of so much dissatisfaction. Often, managers can be seen as the piggie-in the middle between frontline employers and the business leaders. As the pressure to meet KPIs and targets mounts, managers under the pump face an uphill battle trying to keep everyone happy. Depending on your company culture, some have more success than others.

Having personally worked as a junior manager all the way to an executive, I know first hand that under pressure managers default to a style of ‘push management’. Essentially one trick ponies. So, what does one do when that style of management is no longer sufficient?

Determining Your Management Style

No two managers are the same, it’s not black and white. Your management style is shaped by the following:

  • What you bring personally (your values/experience/personality)
  • Perceptions of others of how you should manage
  • What the business demands of you

An effective manager is one who can adapt their style depending on the situation. They change their approach to a task depending on the time, cost and quality expected. In addition, they’ll consider delegating tasks based on competence, confidence and commitment to the task. Put simply, being a manager is a series of making good judgement calls and balancing the business needs with care for those he or she is responsible for.

Push Style Management

When it comes down to it, many managers default to pushing their team when under pressure to meet deadlines. A Push Style is a directive – telling, closed, using power. If you find yourself on the receiving end (which we all have at one time or another) it can come across as authoritative and sometimes aggressive. In response, some may feel angry, fearful or stubborn.

This is not to imply a Push Style has no place in the workplace. It does happen. You need a thick skin when using this technique. It needn’t feel negative either if you encourage people to work using their strengths to get better outcomes you’re not being pushy. You’re reminding them that they can do this.

It works best where relationships are temporary, and short-term decisiveness is key. This prioritises rapid action overcommitment.

Pull Style Management

As the title suggests, the opposite of pushing people to work is pulling them towards you. A Pull Style is building, understanding, sympathetic and open. You ask questions and listen intently. If you’re on the receiving end, it can come across as consultative, democratic and concerned. As a manager, you need to be flexible and generous with your time.

This style works best when prioritising a long-term relationship with those you’re in charge of. However, being too much ‘pull’ and not enough ‘push’ can lead to dangerous consequences.

The Balancing Act

Both styles evidently have pros and cons. Commit to either too much and they become a weakness. That said, people generally need more adult and a less parental approach. Less indifferent and more interested. Therefore, ultimately maintaining a Pull Style of management is one way of contributing to a more productive and satisfied workforce.

But don’t be afraid to push when the time comes!