Sama eBook: Learn how to engage your team in your L&D programs

Managers are confronted with new realities in today’s work environment.

Emerging trends are quickly reshaping the world of work as we know it and redefining manager-employee dynamics. This means that the nature of your managers’ job may be different from what they signed up to.

  • Remote and hybrid work models are becoming the norm. A recent survey found that 73% of employees want flexible remote work. Less face time in an office requires us to be more conscious and disciplined about how we communicate as a team.
  • Teams value human connection. According to a Mckinsey report employees prioritize feeling appreciated and connected over compensation when deciding whether to stay or move on from a company. There is a notable need for a more human-centric management style.
  • Technology is impacting the way work is done. Gartner predicts that almost 69% of managers’ routine work could be automated by 2024.
  • Managing during a looming recession. A number of companies have started restructuring initiatives in the wake of a recession. Managing teams in a downturn is different from managing teams during a bull market. Maintaining team morale to achieve business objectives while the sky is falling adds complexity.

Managers are central to employee experience and managers’ actions have a direct impact on team performance and wellbeing. It is not surprising that Gartner found that 60% of HR leaders consider leadership and managerial effectiveness a top priority for 2023.

How can companies ensure that their managers are the people leaders they need?

Identify key challenges

Start with investigating what challenges your managers are facing. These insights can help you identify trends and adapt your learning and development support accordingly. Talk to your managers about the key issues they’re dealing with. What can often come up is team motivation, giving constructive feedback or leading remote teams. You can complement their inputs with data from employee engagement surveys.

Share best practices

Leverage successful managers within your organization. Identify what makes them successful and share those practices and behaviors with others. You can share strategies around how managers can build the right environment for collaboration, how to offer constructive feedback to help employees grow or how to set the right goals that can help accelerate team performance.

Create communities to support your managers

Peer support can be very valuable. Invite managers to weekly or monthly forums, where they can discuss their challenges and share experiences. Discussions can be open or facilitated on specific topics. Such meaningful conversations can help managers gather feedback and uncover creative solutions that help them strengthen their leadership capabilities.

Provide development opportunities

Invest in managers’ professional development to equip them with the right skills and mindset to successfully lead teams.

Using one-on-one coaching to develop your managers can be a powerful tool. These confidential coaching sessions empower managers to explore their own strengths and development areas. Coaches help challenge their thinking and keep them accountable for converting good intentions into positive actions that support their teams’ development and performance.

Reward managers for more than just results

Just as team members have shifted their values in the workplace, recognition practices should as well. This is just smart leadership, as managers who show high levels of empathy have 3x the impact on their employees’ performance relative to those who show low levels of empathy. Provide recognition and highlight success stories of those managers who live the values of your organization and create a positive work environment for their teams.

Help managers optimize their time

With new technologies, organizations have more tools and resources at their disposal to help teams optimize their time and energy. You can leverage tools that help automate repetitive tasks and enable managers to get insights into their team members’ workloads. This can help managers refocus their time and attention on higher-impact relationships. Take the time to evaluate which tech tools your organization could benefit from and make sure that everyone knows how to use them properly.

Managers are the key to unlock performance and team wellbeing. While the world of work is evolving, in a changing economic environment, investing in your managers’ development is crucial. Organizations and HR professionals must take proactive steps in order to develop the skills and mindsets of managers in line with the demands of today’s workforce. Ultimately, by doing so, they’ll create teams that are engaged and productive.

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
– Peter Drucker

You can be a great manager, but are you good at being an effective leader? Have you ever thought of what kind of a leader you would like to be?

What is the difference between leading and managing?

A strong manager successfully plans, coordinates and sets up processes and structures that help their team accomplish specific goals. Being a strong manager is different from being a leader. Leaders go beyond managing day-to-day tasks and “hitting the numbers”. Generally, we think of managers as being task-focused, driving action through a plan. Leaders drive people to action through a compelling vision. Leaders align their teams towards a common vision, empowering and inspiring their teams to unlock their full potential. This leads to high performance, creativity and innovation.

With the right mindset anyone can develop effective leadership styles at work. Here’s how you can:

Build empathy
Studies show that empathy positively impacts innovation, engagement and boosts retention. Empathetic leaders invest in building relationships with their teams. They are interested in learning what is important to their team and what sets them up for success. Take steps to understand your team’s motives. What influences them to behave in certain ways? Give people the opportunity to share their perspectives and backgrounds by asking questions and genuinely listening. When you take the time to engage with people and give them the space to share thoughts and experiences, it makes them feel heard, valued and establishes strong bonds.

Evangelise
Leaders are driven by a higher purpose. When you become an effective evangelist, you don’t just promote the work you and your team does; you explain how the work makes a positive difference. Being an effective leader means inspiring your team with a common purpose. This makes their work more meaningful and motivates them to take action. One way you can be a successful evangelist is by developing and communicating a coherent message of purpose – both within and outside the company. Seize opportunities to spread awareness of what your team and company do, and the positive impact it can have.

Recognise and celebrate your people
A study by BCG found that the number one factor of happiness at work was feeling appreciated. Research also shows that social rewards such as being recognised and appreciated for your work have the same impact as financial rewards. Being an effective leader means recognising people for the value they bring, as it motivates them and reinforces the positive behaviours that lead to successful outcomes.

Bring out the best in your people
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, posits that leaders must shift from a “know it all” to a “learn it all” mindset. Being an effective leader means you value the importance of learning and development – for themselves as well as for their colleagues. One solution is to give your team the opportunity to own their learning and development. Ask your team for their input on skills they would like to build or resources that could truly support them. This will allow you to offer impactful development tools that will be used.

Free up your time – and mind
As a leader who juggles multiple tasks and responsibilities, it is easy to get roped into day-to-day tasks with no breaks. This might leave you feeling overwhelmed, with little time for creativity or strategising. Studies suggest that when you free up time and let your mind wander, it boosts creativity. Being an effective leader doesn’t mean you don’t feel stress or anxiety at work, many leaders experience this, too. Be disciplined about carving out time daily to create some mental space by, for example, meditating, taking a walk, or journaling.

Embrace ambiguity
Leaders recognise that ambiguity is inevitable and constant because of the complex world we operate in. To successfully embrace ambiguity, start by acknowledging your own limitations. Being intentional in reaching out to your network of experts for their perspectives can help you enrich your knowledge and better navigate ambiguous situations.

Most managers develop their own style of leadership based on factors like experience and company culture, as well as the unique needs of their company and its organisational structure. Being an effective leader doesn’t mean fixating on just one leadership style. There are various effective leadership styles that result in increased employee happiness, engagement, and retention rates. By consciously taking steps to shape your mindset, empowering and inspiring your people, you can become an impactful leader that builds a team that works with you, not for you.