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Four ways to build a culture that supports managers

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Are the building blocks in place to nurture great managers in your organisation? Here are some steps to kick-start the process.

25th Jan 2022
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Finding and keeping good managers has always been a challenge, but the disruption of the last 18 months has made it harder than ever. A global shift towards remote work has given employees increased flexibility and food for thought about what they want out of their careers.

Employees are in the driving seat

Instead of employers holding all the cards, employees are in the position of power, and increasingly leveraging that power by moving on to new opportunities. Lattice’s latest State of People Strategy report, found that HR teams are really starting to feel the impact of this 'Great Resignation' — and illuminated some important considerations as organisations look to hold on to top talent, especially managers, who play such a key role in the overall health of your company culture

With this in mind, let’s take a look at how businesses can create a culture that supports managers.

1. Invest in internal talent

Managers are crucial to any organisation. They drive significant impact when it comes to employee wellbeing, empowerment, and engagement. But the ongoing skills gap has made senior and middle managers a precious commodity in every industry, and as a result, businesses are looking for future leaders within their own ranks. 

With a renewed focus on upskilling the next generation of managers, companies are investing in the right tools to help internal hires feel supported and valued

In fact, respondents from our report identified manager development (75 per cent) and leadership training (67 per cent) as critically important over the next 12 months, which means that businesses are developing talent internally to fill the critical connection between frontline employees and executives. 

With a renewed focus on upskilling the next generation of managers, companies are investing in the right tools to help internal hires feel supported and valued. There are now platforms available that make it easy to map out growth areas and career progression opportunities, providing the next generation of managers with the visibility and motivation they need to excel at your organisation.

2. Address employee burnout

Businesses are facing a wave of middle-level managers, predominantly of the millennial generation, finding themselves exhausted, demoralised and stressed - leading to a high level of manager attrition.

A recent MetLife study shows that millennial managers are far more likely than managers of any other generation to report burnout. This is partly due to a culture that glorifies overworking. Millennials are also unique because they are the only generation to be saddled with the responsibilities of both parents and children. 

Unless companies take the time to seek out employee feedback, it’s unlikely that they will detect early traces of millennial burnout, let alone understand and address its root causes. If businesses want to benefit from long-term relationships with their newer managers, they have to learn how to spot signs of burnout early and implement a framework that mitigates these issues.

It’s clear that the lack of career progression is leading to the loss of strong managers

Tools like engagement surveys and pulse surveys can help HR teams gauge what resources or support employees actually need rather than making assumptions. At the end of the day, a subscription to a meditation app may not be as helpful as monthly recharge breaks.

3. Create growth strategies

In Lattice’s Career Progression Survey, 43 per cent of respondents felt that their growth with their current company had either stalled or significantly slowed down during the pandemic. On top of this, 47 per cent of respondents noted that they are actively looking for or considering a new job. One of the factors playing a role in this mass departure is employees not feeling like they have opportunities for advancement at their organisation (37 per cent). 

It’s clear that the lack of career progression is leading to the loss of strong managers. This can be especially true for senior managers who may feel they have nowhere left to progress and are lacking in opportunities for career development or mentorship.

To address this, organisations must provide a clear vision, incentives, and development opportunities for both new and tenured managers. They must also make career progression a year-round conversation, rather than a topic that only comes up during annual reviews.
 
Investing in manager growth will not only secure the essential link between executives and employees, but it will also help businesses avoid the spike in attrition that often follows the loss of strong leaders. 

4. Establish open channels

According to another recent report from Lattice, of all the challenges HR teams faced in the past year, morale ranked as the most pressing concern –– and it makes sense why. With hybrid and remote working now a mainstay, the physical distance between managers and their leadership means it can be incredibly difficult to get a read on morale. 

New remote-working norms have challenged the traditional ‘body-in-seat’ mentality of most offices, and in response, managers may feel like they lack visibility into employees’ workload or struggle with trusting teammates to work autonomously. Thankfully, there are a few tools managers can use to stay in sync with both employees and leadership. 

When businesses take the time to listen to their managers, they’re able to build engaged workforces that align around a common cause

With the right technology solution in place, it's far more straightforward to establish consistency and transparent channels of communication. Things like weekly updates, one-on-ones, engagement huddles, and pulse surveys empower managers to identify road bumps before they snowball into major challenges.

Likewise, regular check-ins with managers allow HR teams to gain insight into the employee experience and help kick off positive changes that will improve retention, job satisfaction, and day-to-day morale.

Play the long game

When businesses take the time to listen to their managers, they’re able to build engaged workforces that align around a common cause. This doesn’t just happen overnight. Cultivating a company culture that promotes well-being, healthy work habits, and growth requires training and transparency into the current employee experience. Thankfully, with the right tools and mindset, HR teams can help steer organisations toward a more sustainable balanced work environment for managers.

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