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What is management by exception?

There are tons of different styles of management out there, but what is management by exception?

A quick summary of management by exception is: management by exception is a management style that where managers only intervene when employees fail to meet their standards of performance.

But, let's take a closer look.

Management by exception is growing in popularity among managers, and it is no question why. This form of management is a style where managers do as little as possible, instead they delegate it to people below them, and only step in when they have to.So, it is the idea of minimizing responsibility.

Now I can see why you might be thinking, "What kind of business owner would let their managers manage this way?" and that is a great question. It seems sort of contradictory to say the manager does not do anything until a problem occurs, because isn't their job to manage? Yes, that is true, and yet this style of management has proven to be extremely successful for some organizations.

So, why does this management style work for some? It is based around the concept or policy that states that the most effective use of your managers is not as a babysitter, but rather management should devote its time to investigating only those situations in which actual results differ significantly from planned results.

What should managers be doing when they are not investigating situations that vary significantly from planned results? According to the principles of management by exception, the management should spend its valuable time concentrating on the more important items such as shaping the company's future strategic course. So, rather than roam the floor watching each employee with an eagle eye, they should employ trustworthy adults who do not need constant supervision, and instead spend their time determining the best path for the company to take in the future.

This is worth repeating: So, rather than monitoring every move of their employees, a manager should encourage, and set a path, then only step in if there is a big deviation from the path. In the meantime, they should be planning future paths for their employees to follow.

As you can see, if the people employed are responsible enough to move forward, and work toward company goals without constant prodding and supervision, than this is an excellent choice of management style. It works best in situations where all employed greatly benefit from the success, or are harmed by the failure of their outcomes. People who are paid hourly, and could find similar work easily should the company go under, and those who do not look at this job as a career path would not do well with this type of management. However, on the other hand, those with greater financial stakes, or a career made in the company would probably flourish with this management style.

Also, if your managers use this style of management, you want to make sure that they make effective use of their time, and are actually planning for the company future. Otherwise, you are paying someone an awful lot of money to do almost nothing.

Also, be sure that when there is an exception, that your managers are properly trained and able to appropriately problem solve. Keep their management skills honed with refresher courses and continued education, or they may find it difficult to manage those exceptions effectively.

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