Bureaucratic management style: how to make your company successful

Reading time 6 minutes
Bureaucratic management style: how to make your company successful

Every company has a manager who calls the shots. They determine which processes take place when and who carries out which tasks. The manager always holds the reins and dictates what happens. This gives them an incredible amount of power. Basically, they could even act quite arbitrarily and even treat employees unfairly. If a bureaucratic management style prevails, things look very different. This simply prevents a person from exploiting their position of power. Here we explain exactly what a bureaucratic management style is, what characterizes it and what advantages and disadvantages it entails.

What is a bureaucratic management style?

A bureaucratic Management style is authoritarian oriented. It is primarily found in administrative units in which the individual processes are largely standardized.

Management is based on certain rules and regulations. These are independent of the Executive which, in theory, makes them interchangeable. If someone else takes over the position of supervisor, these rules and regulations remain the same.

The history and development of the bureaucratic management style

A bureaucratic management style has a long history. The German sociologist Max Weber described it for the first time and made it an important building block of the industrial revolution.

It was aimed at efficiency and order - the guiding principles of the revolution. Production was to be increased, which is why, for example, more machines were used and as many processes as possible were to be accelerated. And how does this acceleration work best? Through a clear order, which in turn requires certain rules. So it's no wonder that a bureaucratic management style was commonplace during the industrial revolution.

The concept later underwent a decline, as the focus returned to the well-being of employees instead of efficiency. Issues such as work-life balance and a pleasant working atmosphere became more central. A bureaucratic management style, as it was shaped during the industrial revolution, seemed to stand in the way of these aspects. But as we know today, this is not the case at all. It can even be beneficial, as many conflicts at work can be resolved before they even arise thanks to clear rules, structures and hierarchies.

bureaucratic management style

Main characteristics of the bureaucratic management style

But what exactly is a bureaucratic management style in practice? What characterizes it? The most characteristic feature is probably the existence of clear structures. There is a hierarchy with a strict order to which everyone involved adheres. Each person is accepted in their role and the areas of responsibility are clearly defined.

Everyone knows exactly what they have to do. All steps are predefined so that everyone involved works through them in the same way. This makes everyday decision-making much easier. The view of numerous issues and work steps is much more objective, because there are guidelines for everything. There is always a certain framework to which everyone involved is limited. This greatly restricts the scope for action so that there are hardly any contingencies.

Decisions can be made much more quickly because the workload can be better estimated. It is clear who will be responsible for which task and who will be in charge of the project. In this way, a bureaucratic management style saves huge amounts of time, which can be used for the efficient implementation of all tasks.

Advantages and disadvantages of the bureaucratic management style

A bureaucratic Leadership style brings numerous advantages with it. We have already touched on some of these, such as the existence of clear rules and regulations. Employees are not subject to the arbitrariness of other people who are superior to them in their job. Managers have a certain set of rules that they must adhere to, so there is no room for arbitrariness.

Thanks to this set of rules, it is also no problem to quickly replace managers who leave the company. There are no long induction periods because the tasks are clearly defined. Employees also do not have to adapt to a new management style first. accustombecause this remains the case regardless of who takes the reins.

The risk of wrong decisions is also very low. The scope of action for managers and employees is so clearly defined that there is little room for decisions that could have a negative impact on the end result.

A bureaucratic management style also has weaknesses

As advantageous as a bureaucratic management style may sound, it also has its weaknesses. Let's come back to the very reduced scope for action. This leaves little room for time-consuming discussions, but also for creative and inspiring conversations. The success of any company is dependent on further development and innovation. However, if the regulations and structures are so strict that there is really no room for maneuver, discussions and conversations that produce exactly that cannot take place. Innovation and communication go hand in hand. One cannot exist without the other.

We live in increasingly fast-moving times. Companies must be able to react flexibly to changes and, at best, faster than everyone else. Structures that are too tightly defined severely restrict them in this respect. Initiating change takes an incredibly long time, because adhering to all these strict rules robs managers of the flexibility they need at this point. Valuable time is then lost and other companies that can act faster secure important competitive advantages.

However, a bureaucratic management style not only severely restricts managers, but also employees. They have little or no opportunity to develop, put forward their own ideas and develop further. Yet it is human nature to keep moving forward. Standing still is rarely a good thing. But a bureaucratic management style often goes hand in hand with this. This can lower morale. Those who are unable to develop within their own company often tend to leave the Motivation to lose. Employee morale drops and neither the employees themselves nor the company as a whole benefit from this.

Bureaucratic management style and its challenges

A workplace where all employees feel comfortable and can develop, where they can grow and get the best out of themselves - these are the issues that move the world of work today. Based on all the factors we have presented so far, this seems difficult to reconcile with the bureaucratic management style. In fact, this is precisely the major challenge it is currently facing.

Clear structures are important because they provide stability and ensure that no employee has to feel insecure. Everyone involved knows exactly what to expect, what is expected of them and can therefore prepare themselves optimally every day. But they cannot grow in this way.

If a bureaucratic management style is to be effective in today's world, it must not be too tightly structured. Managers must find a middle way that provides security, but at the same time leaves enough leeway to give employees the opportunity to get involved.

The same applies to managers. Companies that want to be at the top of their game these days have to be flexible. And flexibility requires a certain amount of freedom. If this is not given, decision-making processes take far too much time, which is later lost in order to remain competitive. There is a great risk that the competition will be able to adapt much more quickly to new circumstances and deliver corresponding offers, and your own company will quickly be left behind.

The role of coaching in the bureaucratic management style

If you want to establish or maintain a bureaucratic management style without losing competitiveness, you are in the right place. Perfect coaching canceled. Here you will learn how to maintain clear structures without taking away all of your employees' freedom of action. You will learn how to keep the framework as large as possible while maintaining a bureaucratic management style. As the saying goes, it's the middle that counts. And appropriate coaching will show you how to find this middle ground.

This also includes promoting the Employee motivation. Every company only works as well as its employees. If there is a lack of drive due to a lack of development opportunities, your company will be driving with the handbrake on.

The bureaucratic management style in today's management landscape

Bureaucratic management means static work, free of discussion, creativity and further development? That doesn't have to be the case! In today's business world Adaptability is the be-all and end-all. But there still has to be a certain framework.

Young companies often have flat hierarchies that are intended to promote the corporate climate. The approach is promising, but the practice is not always effective. Flat hierarchies often go hand in hand with a lack of structure and employees often do not know exactly what is actually part of their area of responsibility and what is expected of them. A middle way must therefore be found.

A bureaucratic management style with clear structures that are not so tightly knit that they leave no room for development paves the way to a successful future for the company.

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