Management by Exception

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Description of Management by Exception. Explanation.


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Management by ExceptionDefinition Management by Exception. Description.

Management by Exception (MBE) is a management style, policy or philosophy wherein managers intervene only when their employees fail to meet their performance standards or when things go wrong. If the personnel are performing as expected, the manager will take no action. Time and effort should not be wasted focusing on employees or parts of the organization where things are going smoothly.

The term is also used to describe provision of information to management in which only significant deviations from budgets or plans are reviewed as the basis for corrective action. The object is to reduce the quantity of detail contained in management reports and statistics to date on which action can be taken.


In many cases, management by exception requires that the manager delegates specific functions to others who are part of the team or group impacted by the abnormal results. Within the scope of that employee’s duties, he or she will likely use processes designed to specifically address that deviation, while the remainder of the team continues to use standard operating procedures and practices to manage other company functions.

Besides a control technique, MBE can be also a motivational approach. It fits well into an organizational philosophy of employee empowerment, in which managers delegate as much responsibility and activity as possible to those below them, stepping in only when it's really necessary. In MBE, only decisions that cannot be made at a lower level is passed on to the next higher level.


The idea behind management by exception is that managers should only spend their limited and valuable time to important, more tactical or even strategic activities.

Management by Exception Forum (18 topics) Help
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  Management by Exception and Stages of Management Development
The MBE concept in a way adds a dimension to the concept of the leadership pipeline, wherein the leader at every crossroad would need to adjust to:
- Time allocated to supervision
- Kno...

Management by Exception: Authority Without Accountability

Delegating authority without accountability leads to authoritarianism.
Accountability is to be able to answer for a performance to the source that delegated the vested authority. Accountability is a metric that embodies values, ethics, tr...

The Difficulty with Management by Exception: Knowing what to Ignore..

Management by exception is only valid in environments that are extremely stable and predictable because by definition management by exception muffles a person's ability to sense and respond.
The difficulty with MBE therefore is knowing what to i...

Managing by Exception: How to Behave as a Leader

Reading this forum, my first reaction is to make a link with another topic which is very important for me: how to behave as a leader and not only as a manager?
I observe too often that top managers spend too much time managing the problems their...

Levels of Work (Elliot Jacques)

The issue at hand seems to be the definition of "exception".
Defining the domain of work of the manager and the direct reports is precisely what Requisite Organisation (Levels of Work - Elliot Jaqu...

Is There an Art of Reporting Exceptions?

Does success or failure of management by exceptions depend on the way exceptions are reported. It could be language, timing, reportee selection or such aspect of exception.
Managers may share their experience on this aspect for better clarity an...

From Exception to Contingency Management

If we can determine where the limit of management by exception ends and hand over its reigns to contingency management – i.e. ‘it all depends’ approach, then we have an answer to management issues in these unpredictable times.

When Management by Exception Fails? Conditions and Situations

MBE is a very good method, but it cannot be the only way of control. It may fail to deliver due to some factors. I try to list some:
1. People are mostly afraid to bring out exceptions. "Who will bell the cat?" is often the reason for this. (Ed:...

Management by Exception is Just One Thing..

Micromanaging should be avoided at all time. This is usually done by a manager who does not trust his/her subordinates and/or is incapable of delegating. We see this behaviour a lot from managers who are promoted without the proper training for the p...

A Simple Start with Management by Exception

When I used to be a manager myself, if any of my subordinates came with a question, I asked them what was their proposal and if they had one, then we could discuss it.
If it was a good idea they were told to go ahead.
If they did not have a...

Combine Management by Exception with Kaizen

To avoid or minimize failures and to minimize exception, manager(s) must make improvements and changes on an ongoing basis.
To ensure these steady improvements take place, the concept of Kaizen can be used....

How to Deal with Managers That Can't Delegate?

Management by exception has many benefits. But a number of managers don´t do it and also don´t understand if their subordinates apply this technique.
How to deal with seniors managers that deal wilth all matters themselves and are unable to dele...

Requirements for Management by Exception. Prerequisites

I think it is a good approach, it is the approach I use, but the effectiveness of MBE will depend on the nature of the core business of operations and also on the experience of the manager.
Micro managing is always the downfall of inexperienced ...

Disadvantages of Management by Exception

1. There is no generic way available by which one can differentiate important deviations from the unimportant ones.
2. Only an organization that has a perfect system of control will be able to employ the technique of MBE

Advantages of Management by Exception

Management by Exception is a management technique by which managers concentrate only on exceptional deviations instead of trying to correct each and every deviation.
The advantage of the technique of management by exception is that it allows th...

Books on Management by Exception

Good night for everybody, can someone recommend the best book for more information about management by exception? Thanks.....

Nature of Management by Exception

I wonder what is the nature of management by exception? And why is it important?...

Difference Between Management by Exception and Management by Objectives

Make sure you differentiate between Management by Exception and Management by Objectives......
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Compare also: Leadership Continuum  |  Covert Leadership  |  Transactional Leadership

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