Hands-On Manager vs. Hands-Off Manager: What’s Better for You?

Posted by    on 11-05-2020
Hands-On Manager vs. Hands-Off Manager:   What’s Better for You?

Now more than ever, management style can be the catalyst for the success or failure of businesses large and small. Managers face an uphill battle when it comes to getting the most out of their team. As a result, you might find it challenging to determine what management style will improve and maintain high productivity and morale.

While you might feel your management style works, it’s important to try to be as objective as possible about your performance and how it affects your direct reports. Whether you have been a manager for over a decade, or are new to the management level, your management style will determine your success. 

The two distinct styles of management are either a hands-on or hands-off approach. Understanding the difference between the two will help you determine which style works best for you.

The Hands-On Manager

Hands-on management is very common for managers who are responsible for completing similar work to their team. Because of the similarities, it can be more difficult to work separately from your employees, making it easier to keep on top of your department’s day-to-day running. 

Hands-on managers also tend to be more committed to their team, offering more coaching and remaining interested in helping team members progress in their careers.

If you find you are interacting with your team often and prefer to see your team collaborate with you on projects and tasks, you are most likely a hands-on manager. You see the importance of communication and using your work ethics to demonstrate what is expected of your team. 

Through this approach, you are better able to offer mentorship for employees who can learn from the example you set. While hands-on managers tend to be in the middle of it all, depending on the department function, they can also remain present without getting their hands dirty with the day to day tasks. 

Either way, your coaching approach to management provides the feedback your team needs to succeed. You closely observe performance and look for ways to help each employee improve, allowing them to be more effective in their roles.

Your observations allow you to determine the needs of the individual, which in turn allows them to work better within the team. You choose what will work best for each situation, whether it is training someone with less experience, or coaching someone who knows the ropes and is ready to be groomed to move up in the company.

Pros of the Hands-On Manager

  • This more interactive approach allows you to tap into the feedback of your employees, as they feel they can approach you about concerns and ideas.
  • Because you often work alongside your team, you gain intimate knowledge about the business and your department’s function in relation to the business as a whole
  • Hands-on managers tend to gain respect from their team more easily, which reflects well on your performance as a manager.
  • Easy exchange amongst the team and allows for mentoring opportunities.
  • Employees tend to perform well, knowing the manager is working by their side or is keeping watch over operations.

Cons of the Hands-On Manager

  • There is a fine line between being hands-on and micromanaging, which can fuel resentment and interfere with morale.
  • Training and coaching needs vary from job to job, and overtraining can lead to employees feeling they are being micromanaged and are not trusted. 
  • Hands-on managers tend to be less effective with demotivated employees who are more resentful of managers too involved in their day to day tasks.
  • It can be more difficult for hands-on managers to deal with performance issues, as they are too close to the people reporting to them.
  • Overmanagement can hamper the performance of the best performers who feel they don’t need daily management.
  • Working too closely with employees can blur the lines of manager versus a friend.

Hands-on managers can see better performance from their team in the right scenario. However, in departments where employees have more freedom to complete their responsibilities with limited supervision, hands-on management can lead to resentment.

The Hands-Off Manager

The hands-off manager works under the assumption that they have hired the right people to do the job. Because of this, they leave them to it and allow them to work with limited supervision. 

Many employees today prefer the hands-off approach, as it shows trust in their abilities to complete their work. You know you are a hands-off manager if you don’t feel employees need your constant input. Instead, you trust the individuals to complete their tasks effectively. 

Hands-off managers tend to use the corporate structure as their guide and respect the roles assigned to their team members. They don’t feel the need to establish their authority, which means they could be putting their role as a manager at risk. When you are too hands-off, there is more risk for errors and performance issues. However, with the right team in place, you have the competency for your department to perform well.

Hands-off managers are more comfortable with risk because they feel their team has got their back. They see their team as an extension of themselves and trust they will manage themselves effectively. This management style is more laid back, which means there is often less stress in the department. 

Managers themselves become more successful in their roles because they are focused on a higher level of work that is more strategic, while their team manages the day to day tasks that keep the department functioning. This allows the department to look at expansion, innovation, and diversification, while still completing the function required to help the business meet its goals.

Pros of the Hands-Off Manager

  • Employees feel more fulfilled when they are trusted to manage their workloads and make decisions independently.
  • Employees become more effective at troubleshooting and finding solutions because they are left with the freedom to be more creative in their roles.
  • Employees feel they have the opportunity for growth as they learn more about the role on their own.
  • Hands-off managers have more opportunities because they are not burdened with their team’s workload and can take on more challenging projects.
  • Employees understand their roles as they are more clearly defined without their manager taking on some of their duties.
  • Managers manage, which keeps the department running more efficiently.

Cons of the Hands-Off Manager

  • Managers might overestimate their team’s abilities.
  • Managers miss out on a better understanding of the business, as they are too far removed from their department’s day-to-day operations.
  • Employees can take advantage of having too much freedom, which can lead to poor quality work.
  • Often issues are allowed to fester because there is a lack of proactive management that cuts off troubled performance at the bud.
  • Employees may lack mentoring, which can lead to stagnation in the department, with little opportunity for promotion.

While the hands-off manager can find themselves able to take on more exciting projects, it can limit their team opportunities. Their development can also be challenged if they allow their team too much freedom, which can interfere with productivity. 

Ideally, you can find the perfect balance between hands-on and hands-off management. A combination of having faith in your team and offering guidance and coaching when needed will allow you to be a more effective manager who sees more success for yourself and your employees. 

If you would learn more about whether a hands-on or hands-off manager is better for you, call AMSaxum at 905-315-6847 or contact us here

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  • Posted on 11-02-2023 by akshat

    Thank you for this valuation content.

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