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Task-Oriented vs. People-Oriented Management Styles: Which is Better?

Posted by Eric Friedman

management leadership

Leadership styles vary from person to person depending on how they provide direction, implement plans, and motivate people. In every facet of business, from international banking to your local corner store, leadership styles affect the mood and workflow. Two of the most common leadership styles are task-oriented and people-oriented (also known as relationship-oriented). Each of these styles has their pros and cons, and either one can be perfect for any given situation. We’ll let you decide which is better for your organization.

Task-Oriented Management Style

Pros

Task-oriented leaders have several characteristics that help make sure that things get done in a manner that is both proficient and on time every time. These managers usually create clear, easy-to-follow work schedules with specific requirements and deadlines. The pros of this leadership style are that it maintains high standards with optimal efficiency. Employees who need structure and who struggle with managing their time work best under this kind of task-oriented leadership, because it’s more organized and is deadline driven.

Cons

The negatives of task-oriented leadership are that it can lead to a lack of employee autonomy and creativity, which can result in low morale in the office. When an employee has to work under very strict deadlines and excessive task orientation, it can bring the company culture down.  Employees who are self-motivated tend to rebel in this type of environment.

The lack of creativity under excessively task-oriented management can have a negative effect on a company’s products as well, since it tends to deaden innovation. When a manager is too task-oriented, the cons can sometimes outweigh the positives.

People-Oriented Management Style

Pros

A people-oriented management style tends to energize employees because it makes them feel appreciated for the work they do. One of the biggest benefits of people-oriented management is that the focus on employee relationships makes employees feel that they make a difference in the company. And better, more effective efforts come from people who feel that they’re a part of a company’s success.

Cons

People-oriented leadership comes with a number of challenges. Sometimes employees may feel that the responsibilities they’ve been given are overwhelming, and they may need more direction. Ineffective decisions may result if the focus is consistently put on the manager and employee relationships, rather than the important business decisions that need to be made.

Make It Your Own

The key is to take the best parts of each management style, and combine them to create your own approach, one that gets the tasks done while also cultivating positive working relationships. Different approaches work better in specific situations, but if you can keep our pros and cons in mind, you’ll be well on your way to developing a leadership style uniquely your own.

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About Eric Friedman

Author

Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of Web-based skills testing for pre-employment and training. With academic degrees in Psychology and Business, and experience with both mature and expansion-stage company growth, Eric has focused on how best to hire and motivate team members to be the best they can be for their companies.

9 COMMENTS Join the discussion
  • Nathan August, 29, 2013

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to keep to one of the given leadership/management methods. It’s important to find the golden mean and keep to it.

  • Anna Sundale August, 30, 2013

    No single leadership style can guarantee success to the organization – everything depends on the personality types that prevail in your company. Some people feel comfortable with task-oriented manager, but for others this can be a nasty experience. So as usual, the key factor is people!

  • Gavin Bourge September, 01, 2013

    I’d say leadership style depends not that much on the personality types of employees, but more on the personality of the leader. Not every employer is ready to support, guide and motivate employees, which is the basis of people-oriented approach.

  • Lauren September, 02, 2013

    I don’t know why, but I perceive a task-oriented approach as selfishness of the employer. It’s the style used by autocrats, who know they’ve unlimited power and they’re a law unto themselves. They treat people just as a tool for gaining their goal. I think this method of management should have stayed in the past, but instead it flourishes in our said to be democratic society.

  • KT Connor, PhD October, 19, 2013

    I like your suggestion to take parts of both styles. I’d add a third, system thinking. In OD we focus on people, tasks, and systems. That’s why I think it’s important to measure all three–and to realize all of us have access to all three. What makes us different from each other is how we put these together.

    I’d suggest it’s also important to separate out ability and focus. Some people have a keen ability to see details, to look into a situation and immediately see what needs to be done, yet may not act very quickly. They have high task oriented ability may not use this ability except for things that match the standards set by their systemic thinking.

    • Bill Seamers October, 28, 2013

      No matter which management style you choose, it’s always important to make sure that it goes in harmony with your company goals, employees and, of course, you as a personality. That’s where your suggestion of separating ability and focus comes in handy. It would be a good idea to weigh your strengths and weaknesses and manage employees according to your abilities.

  • Sophia Driver January, 26, 2015

    I think this is a more favorable type of management to both parties. The only disadvantage I can see is that when employers are to empathetic employees tend to make alibis if they fail at something. Or maybe it’s a case-to-case basis.

  • Suanne Zimmeman June, 24, 2016

    The most important asset related to employee morale is that every employee feel respected, no matter what his level of expertise may be. Disrespect from an employer or co-worker(s) is the greatest morale killer there is. Humiliating any employee or co-worker in front of other employees is the greatest disgrace there is. And – shame on those who deliberately make this a part of their management style, whether it be infrequently or daily.

  • Muhammad Rasheed January, 07, 2017

    I think the both leadership styles is good its depending on situation and employees abilities or understanding process, their culture and perception.
    I believe every leader and manger wants to support their associate or employees but they required to change the working styles for quick result

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