An Iron Fist or A Humanistic Approach

There are two ways to manage: like a dictator or like a human being. A supervisor can manage by the spirit of the law or the letter of the law. Most supervisors that manage using an iron fist are legalistic. I agree, there are times when a supervisor needs to stick to the letter of the law. However, sticking to the letter of the law should not be your day-to-day style of management.

Your management style will determine the effectiveness and productivity of your employees. Actually, there are seven management styles: autocratic, consultative, persuasive, democratic, chaotic, laissez-faire, and paternalistic. Certain styles lean towards a dictatorship and management styles others lean more towards a humanistic approach.

As I said in my post last week, don’t look at yourself as a babysitter for adults. This negative perspective of your position as a manager will lead you towards being a dictator. You will feel the need to gain/maintain control of your employees.

Managing like a dictator will only go so far. There are ways you can treat your employees like human beings and still run a tight ship. The two are not mutually exclusive. It will take some work, but this balance in your managerial style can be achieved. This list of different
management styles is an excellent way to achieve this balance.

Periodically, one of my supervisors would tell our team, “We’re all adults and I’m going to treat you like you’re an adult.” Even if your subordinates do childish things from time to time you should treat them as adults and evaluate them as adults.

Many people view a humanistic approach to management as being touchy-feely. Many managers are not dictators but don’t want to be considered as touchy-feely. It is possible to treat your employees like human beings and not be touchy-feely. Call it what you want, but most people would rather work in a peaceful environment as opposed to an oppressive environment.

The overall attitude in the workplace has shifted from 30 years ago. Today’s workplace calls for managers to be more understanding (e.g. humanistic). Managers understand that employees have to take time off to care for a sick child or an elderly parent. They also understand that more people are family-oriented and want a work-life balance. A humanistic approach to management does not have to be touchy-feely but it does have to be realistic. The difference between an iron fist and a humanistic approach is that employees will resent the former and appreciate the later.

If you have a question or comment leave it below or email me at

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