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Learning to be Flexible in Management

In recent years, the dynamics in business world have changed and management techniques have become more flexible, more in tune with the needs of the employees. No longer are managers oblivious to the concerns and needs of the individual employee - instead, managers are working to be more adaptive to the ideas and concerns of their workforce. In becoming more flexible, managers create a win-win situation because the employees show more productivity and loyalty.

There are many ways to implement more flexibility in the workplace. The first step is to decide how flexible you and your company can be. Usually, smaller businesses can be more adaptive. This does not mean, though, that some flexible management skills cannot be used in any company, no matter how large.


Flexible managers understand each employee's situations, strengths, and skills on an individual basis. Keep an open line of communication. To do so, explain to the employee of your management style and of your expectations of them. This is also an opportunity to ask the employee where they stand and what their expectations are.

To take this step further, to create an even more open line of communication, some managers will go as far as to understand an employee's family responsibilities. For example, if an employee has circumstances at home (i.e. worries about unsupervised children or an ill family member requiring extra care) that are a distraction from their responsibilities at work, managers can work with the employee to create a more flexible work schedule, different work/project responsibilities, etc. In doing so, not only does the employee benefit from reduced stress, but the employee also becomes more productive. By being flexible, managers can create a cost-effective solution that benefits both the worker and the supervisor.

Once this relationship is established, managers can work with the employee by giving them a goal, but then letting the employee offer suggestions and methods to achieving that goal. By allowing some freedom to the employee to take the goal in their own direction, the employee will feel a sense of ownership in their work, which can translate into enthusiasm, which means more productivity.

While a flexible management style allows a little leeway in letting the employees direct themselves, managers should still keep tabs on their employee by doing daily or weekly progress reports. Managers must realize that the employees don't know everything, so be sure to provide necessary assistance and answers. By doing the progress reports, managers can anticipate some troubles or questions an employee may have, perhaps providing answers and tools before they are requested.

In addition to goal-setting, action plans, and progress reports, managers can encourage teamwork within their staff. To adapt to the needs of the employees and allow for more flexibility, consider cross-training employees. This allows others to fill in where needed should a member of the staff need additional support. Another way to create a feeling of teamwork is to post goals, progress, and problems for the entire staff to see. This can be a motivation and it implies that the manager is involving the staff in his decisions and is open to their input and suggestions.

While flexibility in management can be asset to your business, it is important to be wary of situations where people may take advantage of such adaptability. While a manager wants to keep an open line of communication, that line should not be crossed into being too friendly. An effective manager can be aware of the needs and problems facing an employee, but he/she should not be involved in them. Any abuse of a manager's flexibility must be addressed immediately. Managers should never be adaptable at a company's expense.

Employees are one of, if not the, most important assets a company has. By implementing more flexible management techniques, businesses can get the most out of their employees while keeping them productive and fulfilled.


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