In the past, employees have been trained to respond to a more direct, traditional style of management, where whatever the boss says should be followed. However, modern management philosophy has introduced the progressive style, which seeks to balance the power in the workplace by creating a more open work environment.

The idea of progressive management revolves around giving ownership of a certain project or work responsibility to employees. The approach decentralizes the process of decision-making into individuals and teams, instead of following the traditional top-down management approach. Progressive management builds on the foundation of putting people first. In an effort to highlight each individual’s responsibility to get things done, employees are given autonomy in the workroom.

But the progressive management approach has its own dark side too. While the process may seem like a great idea, there are no assurances that all employees will perform well as a collective in such an unrestricted work environment. While employees who appreciate this creative freedom will successfully accomplish their project goals, others may not be as successful without the proper guidance and monitoring of a manager. In short, too much freedom may not be a good thing for some employees.

In some cases, the actual end-product fails to connect with management expectations, thus time and effort is wasted in the process. This could happen when employees are given the full autonomy to decide on the process and outcome of a project without management guidance. In comparison, in a traditional management scenario, managers direct the process by ensuring that time and project restrictions or limits are identified.

Ideally, an empowered team, under the progressive management style, would flourish in an environment where there is unrestricted creative flow; where ideas and opinions on how a project should be done or how a certain issue should be resolved are shared. But, on the extreme side, it could also slow-down decision-making when too many people have differing views on the issue. In these work scenarios, it would take time before a consensus could be reached. On the other hand, in a traditional management approach, after considering all perspectives, the final decision would still come from top-management.

A progressive management approach may not be the perfect model on its own. While there are a lot of benefits to adopting these modern techniques, looking at the traditional approach could also offer a balanced perspective to managing a workplace.

Stephen Koppekin is the founder of Koppekin Consulting, Inc. Contact Stephen to learn more about how you can better manage, retain, and value your employees.