One aspect of all businesses is that there are usually layers of management within them. But what are the value of these leaders and what are the signs that they will do a good (if not exceptional) job?
How can you calculate or model their effectiveness? And how do you know yourself if you’re an effective manager?
In this article, we’ll be looking at a model that tries to do just that — the Blake Mouton Managerial Grid.
Managerial roles within a business
Chances are we all have some form of manager in our workplace. Perhaps your a manager yourself.
Firstly it’s important to understand that Managers are there to fulfill a function.
The second thing to understand is that, as with all employees, there are capable managers and ineffective managers. We’re all individuals and ability and experience will vary and as such results will too.
The Blake Mouton Managerial grid helps to identify which management styles people fall into by looking at two specific areas of focus, goals, and people.
The grid can help model a managers potential effectiveness and provides a route to improving skills and methods to improve effectiveness.
Firstly let’s take a look at the role of management.
Management involves several facets to help a company achieve its objectives; this typically includes:
- Developing policy/strategy
- Directing resources to achieve goals,
- Developing and monitoring metrics
- Delivering goals
- Developing people
As such, management is a crucial enabler within an organization, and as a result, this makes understanding management styles and effectiveness critical.
What is the Blake Mouton Managerial Grid?
This tool was developed in the 1960s by Robert Blake & Jane Mouton. It utilizes a grid system that maps styles using two variables,
- concern for people and,
- concern for completing the task.
Below is an example of the Blake/Mouton grid, showing the position of the 5 styles.
The grid assumes that there is no tie between the two variables (i.e., one factor does not drive another).
For example, – you could see results where leadership has a:
- Low concern for people and a low concern for completing the task
- Low concern for people and a high concern for completing the task
- High concern for people and a low concern for completing the task.
From the Grid, Blake/Mouton defined that there were 5 broad styles evident.
5 Blake Mouton Managerial styles
1/ Impoverished Management – Low Results/Low People
Evidenced by a low concern for people AND task, this management styles key characteristic is that it is ineffective. As there is little interest for staff, the manager tends to have a lack of systems/processes and is generally disorganized.
2/ Produce-or-Perish Management – High Results/Low People
This management style is shown on the grid as focusing on high results but having low concern for people. Unsurprisingly this style of management has little regard for its workforce, it is authoritarian seeing its staff as a means to an end (the goal). The approach to processes and procedures is autocratic, one which enforces strict policies and procedures, ensuring complete compliance or risk the wrath of discipline.
3/ Middle-of-the-Road Management
Appears on the grid with moderate concern for both people and results.
This manager will target a balance between care for their staff and their goals. Therefore, one can assume a level of compromise within this style. Users of this style typically deliver consistent performance rather than excelling. While this might seem a sensible approach, this managerial style usually fails on two areas. Through constant compromise, it fails to achieve high performance and also fails to meet the needs of the staff.
4 Country Club Management – High People/Low Results
This style appears on the Blake Mouton grid as showing high concern for people and low concern for results. The ethos driving this style is that by focusing on your staff (in optimizing them) then they will drive results. While you may consider a focus on the team would be sufficient, this style will typically fail to meet targets. This is caused by a typified general lack of direction and control, reducing efficiency and effectiveness.
5/ Team Management – High Production/High People
This style is shown on the grid as one where there are high concerns for both people and performance. Blake Mouton defined this as the most effective managerial method.
In utilizing this style, the leadership is typically passionate about both staff & the goals they are trying to reach. Management has passion, drives empowerment & motivation, and helps enable its team while maintaining resolute focus on what it’s trying to achieve.
Later management styles were added by Blake (after Mouton’s death), but as they apply either singular or multiple styles depending on circumstances, they are difficult to depict on the grid.
a) Paternalistic Management.
Here the manager will move between Country Club and Produce-or-Perish leadership styles.
These managers are typically under pressure and are required to protect their position (and that of their team).
b) Opportunistic Management.
Here the manager is looking to protect their position (and improve it) by putting their own needs ahead of everything else (goals and team).
This style of manager will switch from the 5 stated styles above depending on circumstances to deliver the best outcome for themselves.
Benefits of Blake Mouton Managerial Grid
As we stated at the start of the post, the key reason for using a tool like this is so that you can understand leadership styles. This understanding can be your own or individuals within your organization. With this knowledge you can look to drive improvement.
The three key benefits of the grid are:
- It helps you understand your own style
- Shows you where you can improve your own skills
- As a result, it helps to deliver improved performance
How you can use the Blake Mouton Managerial Grid
So let’s have a look now at how you’d use the grid yourself:
1/ Firstly, Categorise your Managerial Style, do this by recognizing your characteristics and place yourself on the grid. Remember that we’re typically hard on ourselves so make sure you get some independent views. You might choose to review your styles with colleagues to help you gain insight.
2/ Identify Areas Where You Can Improve and Develop Your Leadership Skills. This can be an area many might feel difficult to quantify so break it down into areas of skills that you can assess. For example, you could start by evaluating these skills;
- Goal Setting
- Status reporting
- Voicing disatisfaction
3/ By understanding where you fall on the grid, you can then put a plan together on how you will improve. Perhaps this could be done with external training or finding a mentor in your organziation.
4/ Remember that the grid is only a tool that provides a view. Complex circumstances, sometimes call for diverse management styles. You might find that one method doesn’t fit all scenarios and that you have to adapt to serve your organization best. If that’s the case you can:
- Consider what factors drive what behaviors.
- Consider how you will monitor your management style.
- Regularly interact with your organization’s staff and obtain feedback.
Issues with the Blake Mouton Managerial Grid
As with all tools, they are not a panacea, and they all have issues, the Blake Mouton Managerial grid is no different. Here are some potential weaknesses to consider.
- Blake/Mouton’s research is not new, and other theories exist that also offer insight.
- Other Leadership styles are now considered as or more effective than Team Management such as Transformational leadership; these styles do not form part of the grid and do not feature in Blake/Mouton’s study.
- The grid merely takes inputs and shows you a position at a point in time. It does not necessarily indicate how things should be done and does not take into account moments of crisis within a business which might necessitate a change of style.
- Culture of specific business circumstances may drive a requirement for a specific leadership style.
So, the Blake Mouton Managerial Grid is a tool that helps interpret management actions and define a leader into one of 5 management styles.
The grid attempts to use these styles to calculate which attributes of leaders drive poor performance. The model has the perception that the best leaders focus on both staff and goals in equal measure.
Understanding the best management style can be complicated. Where do you think you fit in? Have you used the tool? Where did you fit in? We’d love some feedback. Please feel free to use our comments section or fire us a message on twitter.
This post is part of our Management and Leadership Guide.