When an interviewer asks you this question, they don’t care about how you manage your fantasy football league — they want to know what you do to direct a team of employees. Not every management style works for every company, and the interviewer is trying to figure out if you would be a good fit for their team.
Like ogres and onions, this question has layers. To give a good answer, you have to show off your ability to handle situations and problems as a manager, while talking about real experiences.
Here are some tips to help you give the best answer possible:
Before you can talk about your management style, you have to define what good management means to you. Being able to explain this will help the interviewer see what kind of manager you are.
Ask yourself: what does a good manager look like? No, they’re not just tall, dark, and handsome. Use your knowledge of the company to make sure you mention traits and skills that are important to them.
Consider these characteristics that make a good manager:
1. They Appreciate the Company Culture
A good manager likes the qualities about the company that make them unique. Managers should be invested in the culture that makes them different from other companies in their industry.
Like a cold, a positive attitude can spread to everyone around you. But don’t cover your mouth for this one — when a manager has a good attitude and shows enthusiasm for their work, it can cause everyone to be more positive and work harder. People are more productive when they’re happy, and someone who can keep their employees on task while motivating them is a great asset to any team.
3. Ability to Prioritize
Being able to prioritize and focus on the tasks at hand is a great formula for success. A good manager can prioritize the most important projects and get their team to focus on these projects. Successful managers don’t just complain about stuff that needs to get done — instead they find ways to get them done before a deadline.
4. Empathy and Warmth
No one wants to work with robots (you would know this if you’ve seen the 2004 cinematic classic I, Robot). Managers should lead their employees and guide them with understanding. Everyone goes through tough times that can make it hard to get work done. It’s important that a manager cares about their team and can motivate them to do their best work.
Out of all the qualities that make a great manager, honesty is arguably the most important. The best managers will tell their employees what they need to hear, not just what they want to hear. The truth can hurt, but giving honest feedback is the only way your team will succeed.
No offense to Bob the Builder, but being a good manager means more than just getting the job done. Good managers are accountable, work to achieve their own goals, and take responsibility when things go wrong. Creating an atmosphere of accountability will help others appreciate the importance of taking responsibility for their actions.
7. Decision Making & Flexibility
The best managers are able to make big decisions that get the best results from their team. Good managers should know how to think quickly and adjust their methods to each employee, instead of expecting every person to respond to the same style of management.
It’s important to be flexible, but before you run to your nearest yoga studio — just do some research on the company to find out if they have a preferred style of management. Try to show the interviewer that you use the same methods in your own management style, and make sure to show that you’re willing to adapt.
Here some popular styles of management to consider:
1. The Autocratic or Directive Manager
This manager expects immediate obedience from employees and expects people to do exactly as they say. They closely control employees and motivate with threats and discipline. This type of management is effective when dealing with a crisis.
2. The Consultative or Authoritative Manager
This style aims to give employees long-term direction and goals. This manager is firm but fair, and makes decisions with the best interests of their employees in mind, but also focuses on the business. They motivate their employees with feedback on their performance.
3. The Persuasive Manager
This manager makes choices based on the benefits of the results, and they have the final decision making power. This is a good option for managers who need input from experts, but still want to have the ability to make big decisions.
4. The Democratic or Participative Manager
This management style seeks to build commitment and unity among employees. With this style, everyone has input and is encouraged to help with decision making. The democratic style of management motivates people by rewarding team effort.
5. The Coaching Manager
This style aims to give their employees long-term professional development. This manager helps employees to develop their strengths and improve their performance, and motivates by providing opportunities for professional development.
6. The Affiliative Manager
This style has the goal of creating harmony among employees and between the manager and employees. This manager puts people first and work second. They avoid conflict, emphasize good personal relationships, and motivate by trying to keep others happy.
There is no single best style of management. Different environments and people need different methods, depending on their experience and career goals. The key to being a good manager is to have a few different styles of management on hand and to use them as needed.
Once you’ve defined what makes a good manager, tell a story that shows your methods and experience. Remember not to just talk about yourself, but talk about how you get people to work their hardest.
Here’s an example of what you could say:
In my experience as a manager, I try to avoid micromanaging and let my employees work independently, but my employees always know that they can come to me if they need help on a project or are having any difficulties. I like for everyone to feel involved, so when it’s time to make a business decision, everyone has a chance to provide input.
I can recall a time when my team was brainstorming ideas for a possible fundraising campaign. Everyone was involved in suggesting ideas, and we made a decision in the end by taking a vote from everyone in the office.
In their answer, this person has shown the interviewer that they use democratic and coaching methods in their management style. They have shown that they’re approachable and ready to help and listen to their employees, and they have told a story that shows them putting these styles to use.
Different management styles are most effective when used together, how successful they are depends on how you use and adjust them to the employees and work environment.
Every company is going to have their own specific values and culture, try telling a story that shows that you’re adaptable and share their mindset.
With all this in mind, go out there and let your interviewer know that you’re the best possible manager for their team!