POSDT STYLE: The Boss from HELL?; Ruthless Management Styles Are on Their Way out - but Many Employees Still Get a Rough Ride from Their Superiors, Says Gabrielle Fagan

Article excerpt

Tough, abrasive bosses who turn employees' blood to water may not just be unpopular but could eventually be relegated to history if present trends continue.

Modern management, it seems, is increasingly looking for caring/sharing relationships with staff, not just to reflect the more relaxed image of today's offices but also to get better results.

It is a world away from the cut-throat corporate culture of the 80s and 90s when bosses were encouraged to be as tough as possible on staff to get the best results.

Such an approach took its toll - and not just on underlings. City superwoman Carol Galley, who was once dubbed the Ice Maiden for her allegedly ruthless style and who was famed for turning top executives to jelly, has just quit her pounds 1 million job to opt for a 'more balanced' lifestyle.

Professor Tudor Rickards of Manchester Business School says. 'Over the last ten to 15 years there has started to be a move away from the tough, abrasive style of management.

'It's turning towards a more gentle, persuasive, trust-based style where people are nurtured and encouraged. Of course there are still work-place bullies and suggesting alternative methods is still greeted in some sectors as astonishingly controversial.

'But the reality is that a successful management is one where demands on staff are clearly expressed but the needs of employees are also clearly recognised as well.'

He adds: 'Coaxing and inspiring people potentially means they achieve and perform in a way that may be over and above what is even expected. That's the ultimate aim. It's also vital to counter the growing pressure and stress in the workplace created through longer hours and greater job demands.'

The new culture reflects the need to retain staff, avoid spiralling recruitment costs and to avoid the growing risk of disgruntled employees taking legal action over workplace grievances.

Claudia Herbert, a psychologist at the Oxford Development Centre, pinpoints several different types of boss:

Autocratic - an old-style approach where status reigns. This boss lays down strict rules and demands and doesn't encourage employees to be part of the decision-making process. He/she will use the so-called 'carrot and stick' approach of rewarding success, but is harsh on failure. It can inhibit change or improvements.

Collaborative - sees the role of a boss more as coaching and nurturing staff. Enjoys getting them to learn through experience and is tolerant of mistakes. Admits that he/she does not have all the solutions and is good at welding together teams to get collective answers. Lets individuals take credit for achievements.

Didactic/Teaching - uses a more formal, theoretical approach. Tells staff why and how they should carry out tasks but is not likely to want to be involved in individual needs or adapting his/her approach to fit changing circumstances. …