Creating a business. What is strategic planning II: Types of Managerial strategies to know.

 In my previous weblog on creating a business, what is strategic planning: types of corporate strategies to know, I gave information on planning your organization’s strategy. On this weblog, I will give you some information on linking strategy and HR planning specifically managerial strategies.

To partner with your business objectives, you can find the best-fit managerial strategy using a series of theories and templates that will allow you to see how your organization should best be managed.

An analysis of contextual variables that must be defined on this journey to aligning your organizational and HR strategies include environment, corporate strategy, technology, size, and the nature of your workforce.

Let’s take a quick look at what managerial strategies are available to use and their characteristics.

Structural VariableClassicalHuman RelationsHigh-involvement
Job designThinking separate from doing; narrow, fragmented jobs.Similar to classical, but job design may allow more social contact.Joint planning and goal setting; broader, more meaningful jobs.
Coordination and departmentationStrict, formalized pyramidal hierarchy emphasizing accountability; vertical coordination (by superiors); departmentation by function.Similar to classical; possibly use of some work teams.Horizontal coordination (by employees) in addition to vertical coordination; use of work teams; departmentation by product, customer, project, or matrix.
ControlExternal—through supervision, rules, punishments, and some extrinsic rewards.External—through use of social or peer pressure, rules, some extrinsic rewards.Internal—through intrinsic rewards from the work itself, self-control through internalized commitment.
CommunicationFormal and vertical; restricted.Use of formal and informal (grapevine) communication; some restriction.High amount of vertical and horizontal communication; less formal; climate of open communication.
Decision making and leadershipAutocratic decision making; task-oriented; controlling supervisory role.Autocratic decision making with minor consultation; employee-oriented; controlling supervisory role.Participative or democratic decision style; both task- and employee-oriented; facilitator supervisory role.

As we can see, the above table shows how different each managerial strategy is in their assumptions of workers—

Classical assumes workers are inclined to be lazy and generally want more from the working relationship than what their willing to give. Although Human Relations agrees with Classical that people dislike work, the approach to how workers are treated is the belief that focusing on the workers social needs will help form a positive work environment which in turn produces positive social norms creating loyal workers.

— The Human Relations managerial strategy operates as family dynamic; workers still need instructions and standards but by treating the workers with kindness and appealing to their social needs their rewarded in a sense and comply to the organizations demands.

— As for the High-involvement strategy, the focus is on job structure—if done correctly, people will be motivated intrinsically by the work they do. The belief here is that workers crave interesting and challenging jobs, personal and career growth, autonomy and if given those circumstance the workers will exercise self-control and require little to no supervision and can engage in organizational decision-making.

After examining the three different managerial strategies, we can now compare the contextual variables that your organization uses or is involved in with how those variables fit within the different managerial strategies.

Using the Template for Selecting the Most Appropriate Managerial Strategy for an Organization to Adopt provided for in the Compensation Notebook 2.2 Compensation in Canada by Richard Long p.43, you can determine the best fit managerial strategy—checkmark which variable description applies to your organization.

Contextual VariableClassicalHuman RelationsHigh-Involvement
Simple or complex
Business Strategy
Miles and Snow typology
Porter’s typology
Low cost
Focused differentiator
Thompson’s typology
Perrow’s typology
Woodward’s typology
Product transformed
Routine or engineering
Craft or nonroutine
Process or unit
Number of employees
Any sizeAny sizeSmall/medium
Economic circumstances

If you currently have no defined managerial strategy or need to redesign your structural variables, you could have poorly designed job descriptions which can affect many areas including the compensation levels you offer which all results in undesirable behaviours, dissatisfactions and poor retention. Reach out and contract a HRA to prevent potential loss in future profits.

In my next weblog—understanding what behaviors you desire from your employees.


Long, R. (2014). Strategic Compensation in Canada. Toronto: Nelson Education.

© Bridge HR 2024
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