Being a manager is rarely easy, and one of the most difficult areas to master in your role as a manager is how to obtain the right balance between ordering your employees about and letting them use their own initiative and creativity. If both these styles were at opposite ends of a spectrum, finding the right balance would be somewhere between them, as either extreme can often lead to problems.

Too much ordering about can cause employees to resist the manager's authority and their instructions, particularly if the manager gives commands in a condescending way. Whilst it may be the case that the manager is in charge and able to issue orders, with workers being free to change jobs and a greater flexibility in labour mobility, they do not have to sit there and take it. The more disgruntled a worker gets, the less concerned they will be about being fired, and in some cases will be deliberately trying to be dismissed by subtly rebelling against the manager's instructions without crossing over into misconduct territory in order to receive a settlement pay-off. Often, the more a manager pushes, the more the worker resists and rebels, which makes the manager more worked up and even more assertive, and creates a vicious circle. This type of situation can sometimes result in a game of chicken where each side pushes the other one a little bit further to see which one will crack first.

However, at the other end of the spectrum, too little authority and instruction can also result in problems. Some workers left to their own devices will not have the self-discipline to manage themselves and will end up slacking off and not getting much done at all. They may even be a distraction and negative influence on those around them, lowering their productivity also. Even workers who are able to manage themselves and work hard under their own guidance may become disheartened and feel unimportant if management appear not to care about the work that they produce.

Whilst the right balance may be somewhere in the middle between dictatorship and a laissez-faire style of management, the actual level will depend upon the particular characteristics and nature of the individual employee, but also upon the industry of the organisation. For example, a worker in a creative industry such as designing advertisements is likely to work better being given a brief and then left to create rather than being told what to do all the time.

A manager can find out more about their employees and use this to increase their motivation and commitment by utilising business coaching sessions. By becoming a business coach through taking a qualification such as the ILM Level 5 Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring, a manager can use the knowledge gained to improve performance and motivation amongst their workers and the teams under their control.