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Result vs People-Oriented Managers: Who They Are & Which Is Better

Hardly anyone would argue the fact that the personality of the manager, and their approach to work, is an important factor that affects not only their own productivity but also the productivity of the entire team. Back in 2015, Gallup argued that “managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units”.

Therefore, the question of which type of manager to prefer when hiring (or which type of manager to be) is always relevant—the success of a team or even an entire company directly depends on this choice.

The discussion revolves around an either/or choice between two approaches: result-oriented and people-oriented. So, which is worth choosing?

The result-oriented manager

As is clear from the name, for such managers only the result is important and “the end justifies the means”. Therefore, there exists only two categories of priority for them: “important for the result” and “not important in general”.

The following characteristics commonly define such people’s approaches to work:

  • Total focus on the bottom line, they are basically a bean counter;
  • Think employees are disposable;
  • Frequently lacking in social skills;
  • Believe customer service is not important;
  • Employee benefits are not high on their priorities as they interfere with the bottom line;
  • Don’t believe in recognition and rewards.

Such managers expect their employees to put in long hours and not ask for time off. Most of the time, their employees don’t like them and probably don’t like their jobs as a consequence. 

In teams with such a manager, the only reasons for avoiding a large turnover is the fear of employees to change something in their lives or the lack of adequate opportunities to change jobs. The first chance they get, however, and they exit left.

Things are not much better with the customer experience. An overly result-oriented approach commonly results in almost zero customer focus, and these teams usually have more complaints and referrals than their peers and competitors. More often than not, after the first interaction, the client looks for an alternative.

The people-oriented manager

The complete alternative to the result-oriented manager is the people-oriented manager whose main focus is on— you guessed it—the person, whether employee or customer. Such managers are usually trying to be “buddies” with their employees, socializing with them outside of work. 

Unlike a result-oriented manager, a people-oriented manager does not believe in the above-mentioned concept “the end justifies the means” and, on the contrary, is willing to sacrifice performance to keep everyone happy. Such a manager may “overlook” a team member’s work deficiencies or conduct or give the client an excessive discount.

A people-oriented manager exhibits the following features:

  • Has good social skills;
  • Their employees really like them (though sometimes it is only for show);
  • Thinks that the business will take care of itself as long as they take care of the people who work for them and the customers;
  • Their stockholders want higher returns;
  • Their employees expect a lot and get it;
  • Their competitors are doing better than them.

Why you should be wary of the result-oriented style

A result-oriented manager can motivate employees in the short run but will wear out their employees and repel them in the long run. This is because employees want to be acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts and need to know their efforts will be rewarded. Further, most employees want an approachable boss, who has an open door and will listen to their concerns.

This type of manager is often seen as aloof and uncaring and may not respect the employee’s need for family time or vacation time. 

As you can see, the interests of the manager and the interests of employees, in this case, do not converge at all so, usually, this type of manager has a high employee turnover rate. It takes time to hire new employees and train them until they know their jobs well. That time is lost productivity. 

The worst-case scenario of being a result-oriented manager is the mutiny on the bounty.

Why pure people-orientated isn’t an option either

On the other hand, everyone loves a people-oriented manager. They are friendly and fun to work with. They care and may even be “friends” with their employees. Sounds good, right? To an extent, this can be beneficial but it can easily become too much of a good thing.

While it certainly makes things easier when a manager to have an amicable working relationship with employees, being a friend to employees is similar to being a friend to your children. It is difficult to be a good parent and be a friend and therefore you need to choose. 

The manager may start making decisions that are not necessarily the best for the company by promoting their buddies rather than the most qualified person. Favorite employees may get license to slack off. 

Productivity and profits may lose ground when a people-oriented manager forgets to focus on results also. 

Which Works Best

And so you are faced with a choice—which of these types of managers to be. What will you choose? The correct answer is neither because each of them in their “radicality” does more harm than good.

The best managers are a combination of a result and a people-oriented manager. It is not easy to find that middle ground, but it is necessary if you are to have long-term good results for your company.

Keep people focused on the goals, and hold them accountable, but do so in a constructive manner that demonstrates empathy. Be friendly but don’t be buddies with your employees. Limit your time with your employees outside of work so you can still function as their manager at work. Realize that your employees have families and lives outside of work and be flexible when necessary. 

An effective manager needs to find the balance between “results” and “people”.

For even more help on how to find that balance, here’s one of our many helpful podcasts: How To Manage Insecurities In The Workplace (with Melanie Pump, Author of DETOX: Managing Insecurity In The Workplace)