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Laissez Faire Management

The management of people in an organization is not definite. There are different types of people, which would mean they have different characteristics. But working in a company also means you have to get along with many different types of people. And unless you are top management, you will always have a supervisor or a manager watching over you. There are several types of management styles: Autocratic, Paternalistic, Democratic and Laissez Faire. Different companies employ different management styles. The choice usually depends on the type of organization and the nature of business the company is involved in.

A popular management style called Laissez Faire management is being used by a lot of companies nowadays. This is a laid-back approach to management that encourages workers to be more productive. The managers who adopt this style are confident with their employees’ abilities and skills.

What is Laissez Faire?

Laissez Faire is a French term that means, “allow to pass” or “leave it be”. This management style is also known as delegative management. This management concept leaves little authority to the manager. Instead, all the members are given freedom to perform their tasks in whatever manner they choose. It is basically a hands-off approach, and one which believes that people, when left to perform their functions, will excel.

The Laissez Faire management approach is very liberated. The targets are given to the workers and they can use their own strategies on how to accomplish that. But despite the fact that it is a tolerant approach, the manager should be capable to deal with all aspects of the company. When a worker talks to him for guidance and feedback, he must able to come up with answers. A good manager also knows when to pull back and when to be there to guide and supervise.

When Will It Work?

Laissez Faire management works for companies with:

  • Highly educated and highly skilled employees who do not need strict supervision. These employees produce their best work because they are confident of their skills.

  • Employees who are determined to work hard and have pride in their work. These employees are assiduous and know how to go about their work even if no one is looking.

  • Employees who are experienced and trustworthy. They do not need managers to tell them what to do. They have worked for a long time already and they can be trusted to accomplish the company’s targets and goals.

  • Hiring outside consultants and staff specialists. These people may be under your supervision for a period of time but you cannot exactly tell them what to do. They are considered experts in their field and are employed to help the company for a specific purpose.

Benefits of Laissez Faire Management

When a company applies the Laissez Faire management approach, it means they are confident with their workers’ skills. This is beneficial to the company because the workers become more productive. Another benefit to using this management style is that the workers feel trusted. This approach gives them a chance to make decisions on their own. While they may ask for input or feedback from the manager, ultimately they will have to decide on what to do.

This management style inspires loyalty in the company. Because the workers have relative freedom, they become satisfied with the work environment. Also, the manager has more time to focus on higher-level responsibilities or on another set of projects. Because there is less supervision, he can work on other areas of the company that need his attention. In the end, both the company and the workers benefit from this management approach.

When to Use Laissez Faire Management

There are several approaches that can be used in management. When to apply a particular approach is the key question. It will depend on the type of situation. But there are also other factors to be considered.

  • First is the personality of the manager. If the manager is the nurturing type, then Laissez Faire will not work for him. The Laissez Faire manager will not be there to direct day-to-day activities. He gives enough freedom for workers to accomplish their targets.

  • Next consideration is the employees being supervised. If they are independent and can be trusted then they can work with minimum supervision.

  • Lastly, the company as a whole will have to be taken into account. Its goals and values and philosophy should be reflected in its manager and employees. So if the company is conservative and traditional, then another approach to management should be used, not Laissez Faire.

Laissez Faire as the Opposite of Micromanagement

This management style has been named the opposite of Micromanagement. If Laissez Faire management gives a lot of breathing space to the workers, Micromanagement lets its managers breathe down the necks of its workers every step of the way. Micromanagement allows the manager to examine every detail and every process the worker does. In fact, the workers may feel like the manager is merely waiting for any mistake to happen. As opposed to Laissez Faire management, it will be the workers who will be looking for their managers. They are given a free hand to accomplish a goal whichever way they like, thus giving them a chance to be creative and innovative.

The Laissez Faire manager motivates the employees to do well and be productive. Micromanagement can serve to de-motivate and even create resentment within. Through this type of management, employees do not feel trusted and may feel insecure of their abilities.

Laissez Faire and Other Management Styles

Other people view Laissez Faire negatively. They think it spells doom for an organization. But it does work for certain companies. Some people thrive on working unsupervised. They are able to produce quality output because they do not feel stressed. There is also less pressure because the manager is not watching your every move. Other companies try to mix their management styles and incorporate Laissez Faire with democratic management. It means the workers are given the chance to choose their creative approach to a task or project. However, the decisions are left to the manager.

Essentially, how a company performs depends on the manager’s skills. If he is capable and knows how to manage people well, the company’s goals will be achieved. Whatever management approach is applied, the workers will always depend on their manager for leadership.