The success of any business (small or large) depends a lot on the management style of its owners. In fact, it is the management style of the business owners which dictates a lot of factors such as hiring preferences, productivity, employee morale, and so on.
And when we talk about different management styles, there are two popular ones among business owners. The first one is the hands-on approach, while the second one is the hands-off approach. Depending on the personality and the approach of the business owner, they can be completely hands-on or completely hands-off. Then there are some business owners who take the best parts from both management styles and create a hybrid management style which is a combination of both.
Today, we will take a closer look at these two management styles and how they differ from each other. Understanding the difference between hands-on and hands-off management styles will help you get a better understanding of what to expect from your employees, and more importantly, this will tell you what type of business owner you want to be.
Let’s take a look at the different aspects of hands-on management in detail:
Business owners who follow the hands-on management style like to hire people who are willing to follow instructions and can be trained. For such business owners, hiring the perfect employee is not as important as having the right attitude to learn.
This type of business owner usually has to be more involved with their employees after the hiring procedure to ensure that they are properly trained. And if you have ever trained someone, you would know that it takes a lot of patience and consistency to create a team that is on the same speed as you.
So we can say that a business owner with a hands-on approach is all about hiring people with the right attitude under the assumption that they can be trained.
A hands-on business owner is more actively involved in business management and can even do the same work as the employees. Such business owners remain at the centre of the day-to-day activities and operations of the business – As a result, everything goes through them (even the little things), which can be time-consuming, but it also ensures the highest level of quality for the customers and maximum productivity from the employees.
This active involvement also means that the employees have to deliver the same standard of work that is expected by the business owner. As a result of such expectations, it is common for the owners to coach and train their team on different aspects and processes of the business.
The hands-on approach type of business owner also brings forth more direct interaction between the employees and the projects. This means that the communication lines between the employees and the owner remain open, which in turn fosters a more healthy and honest environment in the workspace.
To give you an example of the active involvement of such business owners, you can think of them as the coach of a soccer team. A typical coach trains the team members by showing them the right way and then observes their gameplay. If required, the coach can call the players to give them advice on how to perform better on the ground – In short, the coach is committed to the success of the team, and the team’s success means that it is the success of the coach as well.
Open to Suggestions
Another integral quality of a hands-on owner is that they are open to suggestions and feedback. As mentioned earlier, pretty much everything in the business has to go through the owner/manager – This means all the decisions and even suggestions have to go through the owner for the final approval.
But how do the employees know what type of work or suggestions will be approved by the owner? That’s where the active involvement of the owner comes into play once again – The owner sets an example for the team by doing the same work as the rest of the team.
A major benefit of receiving feedback and suggestions from the employees is that it can effectively create a more employee-friendly environment and makes the employees heard. All of this leads to increased productivity and an honest environment in the workspace.
Let’s take a look at the different aspects of hands-off management in detail:
A hands-off type of business owner is not that interested in actively supervising their employees or spending a lot of time in their training. That’s why they only hire workers who possess the required skills to get the job done without the active involvement of the owner or the manager.
Such an owner works under the assumption that their workers are skilled to do the job on their own with minimum supervision. In a sense, this gives more trust to the employees in their ability to complete the work.
Due to such hiring preferences, only highly skilled workers who specialize in their field can become a part of the team. This also gives more freedom to the employees to test their strengths and to develop confidence that they can do things on their own.
As a hands-off owner, more focus is put on the results rather than on how it is being done. Such an owner cares less about being a part of the workflow and more about getting the results set forth by them. And since only the highly skilled workers are employed right from the start, it allows the owner to be less involved in the day-to-day activities.
In hands-off management, following the corporate structure and the role of each team member is important for maximum efficiency. Although less involvement gives more freedom to the workers, it also gives rise to potential error and performance issues. But once again, the right team means that there will be someone responsible for checking these errors and fixing them.
Just because an owner is not involved in the day-to-day activities doesn’t mean that they are not doing anything. Owners or managers with hands-off management tend to focus their time on coming up with new ideas and strategies for the business. Once again, the main focus is more geared towards coming up with streamlined processes and corporate structures that can keep the business running with minimum involvement.
Another quality of a hands-off manager is that they focus their energy and time on coming up with new ideas and strategies for the business. And once the inception stage of the ideas or suggestions has been completed, they pass it to their team to make it come to life.
In hands-off management, the ideas and the strategies are more important rather than spending time on tedious tasks that are not that important. And to ensure that the final product is indeed based on the original idea and is according to the specification, the owners also provide feedback and suggestions whenever required. But once again, the owners with a hands-off style usually try to let their workers charter their own path towards achieving the end goal.
When compared with the hands-on style, the back-and-forth communication between the owner/manager and the team is usually less, but that’s not to say that it is a bad thing. Considering how the hands-off management style focuses on the hiring of skilled workers, there is not that much need for ensuring that all the decisions must go through the owners or extensive communication.
Hands-on vs Hands-off – Which one is the best?
A common question that is asked by a lot of business owners is which management style is better than the other. In reality, both of these management styles are used successfully in the corporate world, and with a little research, you can easily find a lot of success stories for both.
If you follow the hands-on approach, you will need to hire people who are good listeners and can follow the instructions provided by you. And if you are someone who likes to be at the heart of everything and wants to make the final decisions, then the hands-on approach will be a good fit for you.
But if you want your workers to be more independent and to think like leaders, then you can follow the hands-off approach. But for this approach to be successful, you will need a team of highly skilled people who know what they are doing.
So we can conclude that both management styles are good, and you can choose the one which suits your personality and business structure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s take a look at the frequently asked by the business owners:
What is the hands-on and hands-off approach?
The hands-on approach is a management style in which an owner or a manager is actively involved in the day-to-day activities and the decision-making of their team. On the other hand, hands-off is based on the assumption that the team is capable of doing the work by themselves as long as they are provided with clear instructions and ideas.
How do I know which management style is best for me?
If you are a team player and want to ensure that an error-free and nearly perfect product/service is provided to the customer, then you can follow the hands-on approach. This will require more active involvement, but you can do just fine even with a workforce that is not highly skilled.
On the other hand, hiring a highly skilled workforce allows you to focus more on brainstorming ideas. In this style, your team is responsible for bringing your ideas to life, and as long as a competent team is in place, the chance of error is very minimal as well.
Based on this information, you can choose a style that suits you the best.
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As a business, HR and career strategist, Thai Ngo has worked with some of the biggest businesses in Australia to help people fulfil their professional potential. Thai firmly believes that the biggest barrier to success is often ourselves, but with the right guidance and the right perspective, that barrier can be overcome. Now he works with businesses, leaders and individuals to tap into their existing talent to create the professional and personal life they desire.