The New Normal: The Role of Line Managers

As a manager, you are responsible for the productivity, wellbeing and progression of your team. Businesses and organisations all around the world have had to deal with a lot of change recently and managers are now overseeing an increasingly remote and dispersed workforce. This creates new challenges for leaders who may not have the right experience in leading remote teams, especially under the unique and challenging circumstances that we are currently facing. It is reported that poor management costs UK businesses around £84 billion a year. Poor management in the workplace can also lead to higher staff turnover, low-levels of productivity and employee morale. Therefore, it’s crucial that HR teams seek to address these challenges and help line managers perform their roles well in the “new normal”. Here’s how:

  • Support – Adapting to a changing work environment has certainly been difficult for many businesses and workforces globally. Managers are having increasingly difficult conversations and delivering bad news such as furloughing staff, taking pay cuts and in some circumstances letting go of staff. However, in order to successfully manage a team, you need to remain positive, stay focused and provide support to your employees where needed. At Achievers, we launched the COVID-19 Critical Event Response Survey and Toolkit where we identified six key protective drivers that help to protect and build resilience and organisational continuity. We identified support as being one of our six key protective drivers associated with successfully responding to a critical event. Support can come in many different forms, whether it’s taking time to ask your workforce how they’re feeling or making sure that you are providing them with the necessary tools for success.
  • Communication – Clear and frequent communication from managers is crucial for remote employee success. Unplanned and informal conversations around the office are what strengthen colleague relationships and social bonds. As a manager it’s your responsibility to facilitate this communication and connection to recreate those ‘water cooler’ moments. Working alone can be lonely for some people, it’s important that teams communicate more than usual to stay in touch. Arranging a 10-15-minute call with your team members on a frequent basis to run through key priorities or check-in on how they are coping will help your team stay connected and feel heard. Technology is key in helping us keep in touch with others – use instant messaging chats, voice and videos calls to stay connected.
  • Balance – When a crisis hits, work-life balance may take a backseat as more pressing business needs take priority. As the clear distinction between home and work life begin to blur, it’s easy to lose the set structure of the day and this can negatively affect employees’ mental and physical wellbeing. This can lead to an increase in stress and burn out that can cause employees to be unhappy. As a manager it’s your responsibility to ensure that your team are taking good care of themselves and maintaining a positive work-life balance. Ensure that you monitor each team member’s workload and ask them how they are coping with their to-do list, make sure you are setting realistic deadlines that are attainable.

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