Managers are the most important connectors between the upper and lower levels in an organisation – between the leaders and the workforce. Vital information flows through managers from multiple channels. Most of the time, organisations overlook that their managers have the significant capacity to create this connection across the organisation. And, in both personal and team interactions, managers have the ability to make or break the employee experience. It makes sense that, through lack of skills or know how, managers can either enrich or demolish an organisation’s culture, positively or negatively affecting people and profitability.
“…managers can either enrich or demolish an organisation’s culture, positively or negatively affecting people and profitability.”
Even though managers play such a crucial role in organisations, there are still gaps between what managers need and the tools provided to them, especially now in the face of post-Covid after-effects, the rise of the hybrid or remote workplace, and the reality that organisations need to get more done with fewer resources.
…it is important to ensure that first-time managers are not thrown into the deep end without a transitional period. After all, a team needs to believe in their manager’s ability to lead them.
Here are four ways in which an organisation can grow successful managers:
- Set up a mentoring scheme
It is important to ensure that first-time managers are not thrown into the deep end without a transitional period. After all, a team needs to believe in their manager’s ability to lead them.
Allow first-time managers to shadow someone senior to them or anybody in a similar role who has managerial experience. Having a mentor makes it easier to ask for support when needed and support in building relationships. Support coming from mentorship can make a difference between a new manager that’s not prepared to deal with the changes, and one that comes into the team with confidence.
- Support collaboration between peers
Consider how you can use internal communication to help break down silos and empower communication between managers. Turning to more experienced colleagues for advice is good, but peer support can also be very valuable. Provide open management sessions on a regular basis to encourage first-time managers to share their feedback, knowledge, tips and issues in an open and constructive environment. In larger organizations, it can be beneficial to group together newer or first-time managers from across various departments for open discussion.
“Consider how you can use internal communication to help break down silos and empower communication between managers.”
- Empower the development of managers’ soft skills
Being a manager requires a very specific set of soft skills, which are honed over time and through experience. Set goals around management and leadership skills to help provide people with a focus. For example, encourage and provide training that:
- strengthens listening skills
- increases emotional intelligence
- helps in mastering conflict resolution
- trains how to give and receive feedback
- Encourage managers to be a role model
Managers need to be overt in practicing the behaviour that is expected from their teams. For instance, managers should take care of their own mental health and wellbeing to set the right example. One way this could be accomplished by setting and then following clear work hours and being sure not to send emails to team members after hours.
Managing remote and hybrid teams
Managing remote and hybrid teams is different from managing only on-site employees. A combination of on-site employees and distributed teams definitely has its unique challenges. A hybrid team manager will deal with employees who have different working styles. The manager must create an environment where each person still feels psychologically safe and comfortable sharing their thoughts with their fellow team members.
“The most important step is to trust your people as this lays the foundation of any successful remote working experience.”
Here are three strategies for managing a hybrid team:
- Trust your staff
The most important step is to trust your people as this lays the foundation of any successful remote working experience. However, managers may struggle with uncertainty as to whether the work will be completed to the same standard as when an employee was working onsite. Do not be tempted to micromanage your employees’ output. This will likely lead to low employee engagement and morale. Instead, take a step back and trust your remote employee to deliver what is expected of them.
- Set expectations
Just as you would for employees working in the workplace, set clear expectations with remote staff around their duties, priorities and deadlines. Establishing these expectations ensures that your employees know what constitutes success when working from home.
- Make sure remote employees follow the same rules as those who work in the office, including treating company information as confidential and keeping equipment and data safe. All staff, whether they work in an office or remotely, should also use the same agreed communication tools.
- Set clear boundaries for working hours. Encourage employees to stick to their regular finish time. Some employees may find themselves regularly working into the evening, blurring the boundaries between work and home life. Make sure your employees “shut shop” and unwind at the end of the working day to avoid burnout.
- As part of this process, establish a regular one-on-one phone call or videoconference with each employee to discuss and agree tasks and priorities. This also provides your employees with an opportunity to ask questions. Depending on the nature of their work, this call usually occurs daily or weekly – any more frequently and it can be seen as interference.
- Be perceptive
In-person meetings allow one to read the body language and facial expressions to gauge others’ intentions and mood. This is helpful in identifying and diffusing any possible conflicts, tensions or issues between team members. Such non-verbal communication is missed in a telephone call or teleconference, so it is advisable to schedule a videoconference for regular team meetings whenever possible. Managers will need to ensure they are paying extra attention. For example, paying extra attention to people’s voices – particularly any changes in tone, pitch or pace, which can help to identify and nip any potential problems in the bud.
Developing management skills takes time and require regular practice. It is important for senior leadership to ensure management development processes are not short-lived and check in regularly on managers’ competencies – including them in performance reviews – even when individuals become more seasoned managers.
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