A Guide to Management Models, Including Examples of Types

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 31, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

There are various ways in which management teams operate. The particular way a management team runs a company is often called a management model. If you're interested in a career in business, you may want to learn more about different management models.

In this article, we define what a management model is, explain how it's different from a business model, discuss applications outside the workplace, and list the types of models.

What are management models?

Management models are methods that managers or management teams use to run their organizations. The models incorporate all the choices they make and actions they take, including major decisions and day-to-day operational choices. These actions can include how they approach identifying objectives, motivating employees, and coordinating projects and activities.

The model that a management team uses can significantly impact company culture, employee engagement, and overall operations. Several factors may influence the structure of the management model, including company objectives, the values or attitudes of management team members, and even local cultural values.

How is a management model different from a business model?

A business model is a plan that focuses on profitability. It typically includes a company's product or service offerings, including prices, operational expenses, marketing strategy, and market information, such as the target segment and competition factors. Business models are typically higher-level overviews of how a business operates. Companies often outline their business models to potential investors in an official presentation or document.

A management model typically has a more flexible structure and may evolve over time, particularly when managers make operational changes. Generally, a management team allows its model to develop gradually rather than outlining it in an official document beforehand. Unlike business models, these models focus more on internal processes and procedures than market operations.

The choices that form the structure of a management team's model typically include matters related to human resources or company values, which appear less prominently in a business plan.

Management models outside of the workplace

Management models can be relevant for more personal pursuits, such as career development, lifestyle management, and educational pursuits. Similar to models that business management teams use, models for managing careers, lifestyles, or education might encompass choices that relate to objectives and values. Each choice can impact various aspects of careers and lifestyles.

Related: Self-Management Skills (Definition and Tips Included)

Types of management models

While there can be a wide variation in models, there are several distinct structures. Many of them focus specifically on change management, which is an important aspect of overall management. Individual models are often unique and may have characteristics of multiple models. The following are several common models of management:

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs focuses on an individual's achievement of their full potential. The theory states that an individual's potential for productivity relates directly to fulfilling five levels of needs, starting with the basic necessities of life and extending to higher-level needs. This theory can apply to personal endeavours and business management situations. It's particularly useful for human resources, but the principles can also apply to other areas of management.

According to the theory, it's necessary to fulfil the lowest-level needs before higher-level ones. When the individual fulfills each level, they become closer to achieving their full potential. The five levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, starting from the lowest, are:

1. Physiological

Physiological needs are biological needs. These include the basic essentials for life. Examples are air, water, food, and warmth.

2. Safety

Safety needs include security and freedom from violence or fear. This might be living in a location or society with law enforcement and having a secure place for shelter. It can also consist of the need for financial security. According to Maslow's theory, you can fulfil your safety needs after meeting your physiological needs.

3. Love and belonging

Maslow's third level of needs involves emotional and social requirements. This can include the need for connections with other people, such as family and friends. It can also consist of the requirement for love, affection, and inclusion.

4. Esteem

Esteem needs relate to self-respect and achievement. Education, professional development, and training may contribute to fulfilling these needs. Another important esteem need is autonomy, which, in a workplace, can depend on trust and empowerment.

5. The need for self-actualization

According to Maslow's theory, when individuals have fulfilled their basic, social, emotional, and self-esteem needs, they're ready for self-actualization. This final need involves reaching your full potential. This stage is the highest level of the hierarchy, and not every individual reaches it.

Related: Motivation and Inspiration (Definition and Differences)

Kurt Lewin's model for change management

The Kurt Lewin model focuses specifically on change management, as opposed to overall management. It identifies a three-step process for implementing change. This plan can help implement a variety of different changes and can apply to either a corporate situation or a personal pursuit. The three stages of the Kurt Lewin model are:

1. Unfreezing

The first stage of the process is unfreezing, meaning ending an existing practice. This stage begins with communication to ensure that team members are aware of the upcoming change and understand the reasons for it. It's a good idea to communicate the timeframe, expectations, and details of the new process.

2. Changing

The second stage of Kurt Lewin's model is the change itself. This is when the team implements the new practice or process. During this stage, it's important to focus on developing new behaviours and methods to align with the updated practice. This stage is typically the most difficult of the three and usually requires the most time as team members adjust to the new practices. During this stage, it's wise to expect some resistance and accept feedback. If team members have legitimate concerns about the new processes, it is worthwhile to reconsider them.

3. Refreezing

The third stage, refreezing, involves reinforcing the new practices or procedures and affirming them as the new standard. This stage is important to ensure that team members don't revert to previous practices over time, which can be a common concern due to habit and resistance to change. During the refreezing stage, managers can find it beneficial to implement a reward system that offers an incentive for maintaining the new practices. It's important to monitor progress during this phase to identify and correct any discrepancies quickly.

The Five Discipline model

Author and educator Peter Senge developed the Five Discipline model, which emphasizes the importance of learning. The five disciplines included in the model are:

1. Systems thinking

Systems thinking involves considering the broader perspective when approaching a problem or concept. A systems thinker considers multiple components and their interactions, rather than focusing on one segment. For example, when considering a new product line for a retail store, a systems thinker might consider cross-marketing opportunities, the impact of trade promotions on other areas of business, and whether they expect the new product to compete with existing ones.

2. Personal mastery

Personal mastery involves focusing on the non-monetary rewards of working. It means deriving pride and self-esteem from your work rather than focusing only on your pay. When the focus shifts away from money and you consider the artistic aspects of your work, there are more incentives to strive for excellence.

3. Mental models

Mental models are simplifications or representations that the mind forms. People use these to understand concepts and systems. When working with more complex concepts or systems, it's often helpful to focus on creating a mental model through research or teamwork.

4. Building a shared vision

Building a shared vision involves running an organization collaboratively. This can mean being open to feedback, empowering employees, and prioritizing teamwork. Communication is important for sharing ideas and collecting suggestions or comments.

5. Team learning

Team learning involves holding open discussions to facilitate learning as a group. It's important to avoid assumptions or biases and maintain a neutral attitude to allow multiple team members to share perspectives and ideas. This also facilitates collaboration among the members of the team.

Related: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples

The Deming Cycle

W. Edwards Deming developed the Deming Cycle, which outlines a process for taking actions or implementing plans. Like the other models, individuals can use it for both business management situations and personal career goals. The steps of the Deming Cycle are:

  1. Planning: The planning stage involves setting up an outline of the steps necessary to complete your objective.

  2. Doing: The second stage involves taking action or implementing the plan.

  3. Checking: The checking stage involves using metrics or collecting feedback to determine whether your action has the intended impact.

  4. Acting: Acting refers to improving the process based on observations and feedback.


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