From Job Satisfaction, Conflict, and Stress:
What's good, what's not, what's hidden
Readings from pages 110- 111.
Some managers are task-oriented. It is who they are. They should not try to change.
I had a boss once who was told by his boss to get out from behind his desk and walk around. My boss asked me what I thought. Should he give it a try?
I said, “Sir, if you do that, start just walking around, you are going to scare people. They’re going to wonder what they are doing wrong? Why is he here? No, sir, you’d just cause more problems and you don’t need more problems.”
He smiled, almost a smile of relief, and said, “Thank you.”
The good leaders want honesty. My boss was a task-oriented manager to the nth degree. He drove his organization but people respected him. He had risen to a high leadership position probably because of his analytical and decision making acumen, but he did not have strong people skills.
Conversely, some people are “people” people. They enjoy interacting with others, helping them with their problems, guiding teams or groups. Asked to start a project from scratch, a small voice deep inside would say “Run!” Given an environment that is highly structured, they might be alright but probably would not be as effective as they would be when the tasks have more give-and-take.
Some people are both task-oriented and people-oriented. Imagine a continuum. On one end are people who are people-oriented, on the other end are people who are task-oriented. These managers can only be effective with one style. The managers toward one end of the continuum should try to stick with situations that match their style. In the middle are people equally comfortable and effective with both styles. They should use the style that best fits the situation. Then there are the rest of us who can use both styles to some degree but tend to be better at one than the other.
In the workplace, a manager who is task-oriented in a situation that does not require it could seem like a fish out of water. Likewise a people-oriented manager in situations of very high or very low to no structure could easily struggle. Observing your manager and other managers can give you some working hypotheses about how well their styles match the workplace.