Why managers are losing their grip on their leader and employee expectations

One has to gallop back to the mid-16th century to discover the origin of the verb “to manage.” Initially, it was all about horsemanship, as in “handling a horse,” putting it through its paces in the manège – an enclosed area where horses and riders train – and taken from the Latin manus (hand). 

Half a millennium later, there is a worrying sense that business managers are losing their grip and falling at ever-higher hurdles. But to what extent is it their fault the reins are being dropped, considering the increasing intensity of competing pressures from above and below in a period of economic uncertainty?

At the start of 2023, Gartner identified “managers will be sandwiched by leader and employee expectations” as one of the top nine workplace predictions for chief human resource offices this year. 

This assessment was backed up by workplace culture and recognition firm O.C. Tanner’s 2023 Global Culture Report, published in September. The study, which captured answers from 36,000 employees across 20 countries, found that in the U.K. specifically, 41% of managers felt pressured to choose between what their leaders want and the demands of their direct reports. 

Further, almost half (46%) of U.K. managers reported their responsibilities have increased since the pandemic. Tasks that took up the most time included project and team meetings, management meetings, and training and mentoring. On a global scale, 61% of respondents said they had more general responsibilities at work since before the pandemic, compared to only one-third of employees.

The full version of this article was first published on Digiday’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in February 2023 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Are employers creating a lost generation of managers?

For all the benefits of flexible working, a stark question remains unanswered: How will no or little in-office experience affect our young and future managers?

To some, the opportunities to learn through osmosis, either in the office or at work socials, are already dwindling. If left unchecked, it could potentially lead to a lost generation of young managers in knowledge-worker industries, they think.

Perhaps employers deserve some sympathy. With the war for talent raging and a gloomy economic outlook, investment in developing young workers could be costly with little return.

Maybe it makes better sense to work backward: What skills will the managers of tomorrow require? UJJI research identified the five skill areas for good managers in the world of modern work as communication, problem-solving, adaptability, leadership, and productivity.

How can these skills be honed if workplace learning is limited?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in September 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How to ask for a raise amid a cost-of-living crisis

Asking the boss for a raise can be awkward at the best of times.

As the cost-of-living crisis deepens in the U.K. and U.S. and company purse strings are pulled tight, it’s arguably even more difficult. However, given the perilous state of the economy, it’s critical to pluck up the courage to discuss a pay bump.

The temptation might be to blunder into an informal chat, but that could come across as desperate. Instead, a better strategy is to prepare well to effectively make your business case.

Below are some tried and tested expert tips to help those seeking a raise seal the deal.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in July 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Managers are not being trained to run hybrid teams – and it’s a big problem

Hands up, who really wants to be a manager today, in an uncertain and fast-paced, post-pandemic world, where organizations worldwide are shifting to hybrid working and struggling to attract and retain talent, plus employees are demanding more attention than ever? 

At the heart of operations, trusted to pull the strings, are managers, many of whom are promoted to their positions after excelling in non-management roles. “Managers often have the most accountability to the largest proportion of the workforce,” said Emma Price, head of customer success at management process automation company ActiveOps. “They are responsible for delivering against cost, quality, and service and managing customer outcomes.”

However, many would-be puppet masters are now tied up in additional, complex tasks that weren’t part of their already stacked workload in early 2020. They are crying out to be untangled by their bosses, yet evidence suggests the critical training and tools they require are not being made available. This lack of support is baffling when one considers the cost of the great resignation alongside the truism that “people leave managers, not companies.”

Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, published in March, concluded that “managers feel wedged between leadership and employee expectations.” The survey, featuring responses from over 30,000 workers across 31 markets, revealed that 54% of managers say company leadership is out of touch with employees, and almost three-quarters (74%) lament not having the influence or resources to implement the necessary changes for their teams.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in July 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.