An autocratic management style is used by a manager who decides what will be done and exactly how it will be done with no input from subordinates. Although this sounds somewhat negative there are circumstances under which it may be the best or only option. When used inappropriately the term micro-manager is often applied to the person utilizing this style of management. It’s often seen in those who have recently been promoted to a supervisory position. But then some people employee this style at the outset and never grow out of it.
Some employees favor or even require an autocratic management style while others will revel against it. People who are independent thinkers – those who are more capable – want to be told what needs to be done while the ‘how’ is left up to them. Those who are more suited to performing the tasks that are assigned to them but are incapable or unwilling to assume decision making responsibility are better suited to an autocratic style. For example a master mechanic who is paid on commission wants to be told what needs to be done but wants to make the decisions on how the work is to be performed. Conversely – an entry level technician needs to be told what to do and how to do it. Most, but not all technicians aspire to become master mechanics some day and so the relationship with management will evolve over time. The correct management style should be employed based on what best suits the employee and that can change.
Regardless of the individual inclinations and capabilities of employees sometimes circumstances require an autocratic management style. In situations that require quick decisions that affect all employees an autocratic style is necessary. This doesn’t necessarily refer to an event of disastrous magnitude but applies to any situation that requires immediate unilateral action.
Employing the right management style at the right time will have a huge impact on success. Not using an autocratic style with employees that require it will result in mistakes and diminished quality. Using an autocratic management style with employees that are averse to it will result in reduced moral and higher turnover among valuable employees.
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