Leadership or management styles have significant impacts on organizations in all industries. One of the main impacts is on the performance of employees (Iqbal, et al., 2015). It is also important to note that different industries require different management styles because of the culture of the industries and the nature of activities carried out. Some of the common management styles in different industries include: autocratic, authoritarian or dictatorial style, participative or democratic style, bureaucratic style and Laissez-faire style. Retail industry and built environment industry have unique management needs because of the nature of business activities undertaken in this industries. In most cases, retail industry is characterized by pressurized work, physically hard work and low pay. These characteristics best fit a directive or dictatorial management style where the management tries to increase productivity of employees by piling pressure on them, cracking the whip whenever they make a mistake and backing long working hours.
The main factors that has direct implications on the ability of a retail company to achieve its goals are the culture of the company, business strategy used and management style adopted. For a retail business to be competitive and successful, it must have a strong culture where its employees understand their roles, company goals, are empowered to make the right decisions even in conflict or critical circumstances and are confident of getting the management’s support during crisis situations. In retail industry, the management style used has significant impacts on the culture of the company, its staffs and customers. Managers in this industry must balance two fundamental factors: providing task directions and managing people. The management style used in retail industry should also be able to create an environment where change can be accommodated. In most cases, it is change that drives success in retail industry because of the ever changing and evolving customer wants and needs. Therefore, the retail manager should anticipate change, champion innovation, lead the team in solving problems, manage transition and reduce opposition to change.
Culture of Retail Industry
Culture is a very crucial factor in retail industry. This industry is known for high turnover rates especially for hourly employees. Some of the factors contributing to the high turnover rates in retail industry include: strenuous or physically hard work, low hourly wages, poor working conditions, lack of motivation and long working hours, among others (Booth & Hamer, 2007). However, it is difficult for managers to change some of these factors because of the nature of work in retail industry. The issue of culture also varies from one geographic location to another, making it more challenging for retails tore managers. This is in regard to shopping behaviors and preferences of customers in different geographic location, which are affected by demographics such as age, gender, education, cultural factors, etc. (Khare, 2012) For instance, the kind of shopping experience or treatment that customers in region A want may be different from that of customers in region B. This makes it quite challenging for retail business managers to develop common values and mission for the company and establish effective strategies of achieving them.
Another major cultural issue in retail industry is economic challenges, which usually result to layoffs. Retail business is largely affected by market conditions. When market conditions are not favorable, retail companies tend to lay off employees as a way of reducing operating costs. This also makes it challenging for managers to maintain business equilibrium and profitability. Thus for retail businesses to remain competitive and succeed in the industry, they must understand the industry’s culture. This will help them ensure that they strategize properly and distinguish their product and service provision, quality of work, customer service and experience, and price (Church, 2014). Technology is also changing the culture in retail industry very rapidly and therefore managers have to be updated with the latest effective techniques of increasing productivity. Some of the technological transformations being experienced in the retail industry include: increased number of online shoppers, use of robots as shop attendants, delivering products by drones, making payments using digital currencies, etc. (Yohn, 2017) All these are affecting traditional management styles in retail industry.
Management Style in Retail Industry
Profitability levels in retail industry are usually constrained and this calls for a robust management style if a retail business has to achieve its objectives. Retail businesses largely depend on the efficiency and energy levels of staffs who interact with front end customers in the field and other staffs performing different functions. Therefore for a retail company to achieve its objectives and create strong business connections with customers, it must ensure passion and efficiency of employees on daily basis. Achieving this largely depends on the culture of the company and the environment it creates for her employees and other key stakeholders.
Directive or dictatorial or autocratic style is one of the commonly used management styles in retail industry. This is the style where the manage gives specific directions or instructions on what employees should do, where to do it, how to do it, when to do it and why they are doing it. It is a commonly used management style in retail industry because of the culture and nature of this industry. Retail businesses require a manager who is able to direct employees on what to do, where, when, why and how to do it and keep them on toes at all times. This style ensures task orientation and discipline of employees but only for a short period of time. In the long run, employees may become unhappy, demotivated, stressed and start feeling unappreciated. This usually leads to high turnover in retail industry (Khattar, 2016).
Culture of Built Environment Industry
Built environment industry is more or less the same as construction industry. This industry has a strong culture that is not easy to change, considering the segmented nature of the industry. The key cultural dimensions in built environment industry are: project orientation, client orientation, workforce orientation, team orientation and performance orientation (Ankrah, et al., 2009). These dimensions are affected by several factors including project size, location and complexity, stakeholders’ influence, importance level of cost, safety and health, and variations. The culture of built environment industry largely depends on the ability of companies to develop strong and efficient skills to manage programs, pay greater attention to detail and ability to keep track of various tasks so as to ensure that the project is within the stipulated budget and time. The culture of built environment is also to ensure that all participants are assigned their tasks and are performing them diligently and at the required time. In this regard, built environment culture encourages a high level of accountability and efficiency so as to avoid costly delays.
The four main pillars of built environment culture are: project management, organizational structure, strategic planning and risk management (Riddell, 2016). Project management culture accentuates on avoiding errors and meeting deadlines. It is for this reason that past experience is a very important factor to consider when hiring a project manager in the built environment industry. These managers use their past experiences to assign tasks, delegate duties when necessary, make the right projections, control costs, ensure safety and quality of work and maintain daily operations as per the schedule. Organizational structure culture in the built environment industry tends to be hierarchical. However, this does not mean that the top management makes decisions and directs those in lower management levels and employees to implement. Instead, the top management involves workers at all levels in making decisions. The matrix of this structure is that the project manager oversees operations of the project but there are several managers who are appointed to oversee operations in different departments. This autonomous culture helps even the junior staffs to learn from their seniors because they are always working together as one team. Strategic planning culture aims at ensuring that right decisions are made from the early stages of the project. This is because every decision made in the built environment industry has huge impacts on the whole project. Therefore the project team has to test everything before making the final decision. Risk management culture is aimed at identifying risks, assessing them and developing proper strategies of preventing or mitigating them. The built environment industry is susceptible to a wide range of risks, which can be costly and dangerous to the society. Thus the management team should ensure that all risks are avoided or managed so as to keep workers and the environment safe and still achieve project goals. These pillars plays a key role in determining people’s attitude and relationships with built environment (Opoku, et al., 2015). So it is very important for the management to ensure that the cultures are changed or aligned in accordance with the company’s goals, vision and values.
Managerial Style in Built Environment Industry
The organizational structure of many companies in the built environment industry is hierarchical. This means that there is the top management level, middle management level, low level management and first line level. However, all these participants work collaboratively by sharing knowledge, ideas, experiences, challenges and successes. All employees at each level know their responsibilities and respect each other at all times. Therefore the most efficient management style in built environment industry is participative or collaborative style. In this style, all key stakeholders work as a teamwork from start to end of the project. Even the top management consults others employees before making critical decisions because these decisions affect productivity of all employees of the company. In general, collaboration plays a very important in successful completion of projects in built environment industry (Rahman, et al., 2014).
Built environment projects are executed by stakeholders with varied backgrounds and knowledge levels (Gustavsson & Gohary, 2012). Some of these stakeholders include: clients, engineers, architects, designers, quantity surveyors, human resource managers, financial experts, environmentalists, suppliers, contractors, quality assurance professionals, etc. It is very difficult for such diverse groups to work on a project with a common goal. But this can be achieved through collaborative management. Collaborative management style brings together also participants so as to create an inclusive workplace. Employees are selected based on their knowledge and skills, and are assigned to perform tasks in which they have the greatest strength. This style reduces conflicts among participants, which saves both time and money. It also promotes positive values where every employee is treated fairly and with the respect they deserve. This is one way of promoting professionalism in the built environment industry.
In collaborative management style, a collective team comprising of all key stakeholders is formed to implement the project. All these stakeholders are brought on board at the earliest stage possible so that they can understand the project wholly and give their contributions or opinions on the best ways of implementing the project in a faster, safer, cost effective, efficient and environmentally friendly manner. This management style promotes open discussions where great ideas are developed, information is shared openly among all stakeholders, problems are solved faster, adequate resources are allocated appropriately, power and responsibilities are distributed among participants, conflicts are resolved quickly and amicably, all staffs are valued equally and the project is coordinated effectively (Akintan & Morledge, 2013). At the end, collaborative management style builds a strong relationship between all stakeholders involved in a built environment project. Most importantly is that collaborative management style ensures that variations are handled in a manner that does not affect the entire project significantly. This is because through open communication and sharing of information, all stakeholders will be aware and involved in making changes to the original plan and therefore accommodating these changes becomes easier.
One of the major challenges of collaborative management style is that some clients and their representatives feel like they are losing control of the project. However, technology is resolving this challenge by allowing clients and their representatives to painstakingly monitor and control various aspects of the project from wherever they are. Technology is also gradually driving cultural shift in the built environment industry with an aim of improving efficiency and boosting collaboration. Technological advances such as Building information modeling (BIM) and building management systems (BMS) are based on creating a collaborative and efficient industry where different stakeholders work as a team to improve efficiency of the system built throughout its lifecycle.
How to motivate staff in the Built Environment Industry
One of the most effective ways of increasing productivity in the built environment industry is by motivating staffs. There are different ways in which this can be done. Some of these include the following: celebrating, recognizing or honoring them for their small and big wins by giving them company awards, yearly bonus, gift cards, birthday cakes, etc.; rewarding them accordingly for their hardwork; keeping the staffs engaged with the company and explaining to them the big picture; creating a comfortable and relaxed working environment; not taking advantage of the staffs; giving them all the resources they need to perform their duties; creating opportunities for the staffs to grow and develop their careers; giving them an opportunity to choose the projects they want to work on; showing them that you care about their welfare and appreciate their contribution to the company; having good attitude towards staffs; challenging them to improve; giving them clear expectations; ensuring that there is transparency in how the company is managed; always listening and addressing their concerns; and asking for their opinions before making crucial decisions. When it comes to motivating staffs, the small things that may be overlooked are the ones that matter most. Therefore it is important for the company to develop a motivation program so that both small and big positive contributions by the staffs are recognized, honored and rewarded. If staffs are motivated properly, their performance and productivity increases (Barg, et al., 2014).
Retail industry and built environment industry have different cultures and preferred management styles. The management styles in these industries are largely influenced by their respective cultures. The retail industry is more volatile to external market conditions or economy than the built environment industry. As a result of this, retail business managers use dictatorial style so as to be able to meet changing customer wants and needs. For instance, if demand increases within a short time, staffs are forced to work for long hours and if the demand drops abruptly, some staffs get dismissed. On the other hand, managers in built environment industry use collaborative style because the decisions they make have huge impacts on the success or failure of the project hence all stakeholders need to be coordinated and involved in decision making process. Unlike several decades ago, technology has also played a significant role in shifting the culture of the built environment industry. Today, all key stakeholders are involved in the project from the very early stages until the end.
General, the most versatile and effective management styles in both retail and built environment industries are collaborative, situational and flexible styles. These styles create and encourage an environment with great openness and transparency, where all staffs feel happy and appreciated and therefore ensure that they work efficiently every day. The styles also create and encourage an environment where employees can share or raise their concerns without fear or intimidation. It is also important for companies to develop an appropriate motivation program so as to recognize and reward staffs for their contribution, hard work and extra effort they make towards the company’s success.
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