Management by Exception

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Description of Management by Exception. Explanation.




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.

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Recent topics

  Nature of Management by Exception
I wonder what is the nature of management by exception? And why is it important?...
  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 a...
  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.<...
  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...
  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 ar...
  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 th...
  Difference Between Management by Exception and Management by Objectives
Make sure you differentiate between Management by Exception and Management by Obj...
  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 stead...
  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 ...
  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’ approac...
  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 suc...
  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 ...
  Books on Management by Exception
Good night for everybody, can someone recommend the best book for more information about management by exception? Thanks.....
  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 sou...
  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...
  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 delegati...

Best Practices - Management by Exception
  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 e...
  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 ...

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Compare also: Leadership Continuum  |  Covert Leadership  |  Transactional Leadership

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