Hybrid working requires managers with soft skills

Hybrid working requires managers with soft skills

Hybrid working, staff mixing working from home and from the office, requires managers with soft skills such as navigating difficult conversation. “Organizations must invest in resources to support managers and equip them with the skills they need for this new way of managing,” says Caitlin Duffy, research director at research and marketing firm Gartner.

Organizations must focus on equipping people managers with the right skillsets to ensure they and their teams succeed in the hybrid world, Gartner says referring to a survey of HR leaders.

According to the survey 84% of respondents said it was more important for managers to develop soft skills, such as navigating difficult conversations, in a hybrid setting.

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Gartner research found that employees whose managers drive sustainable performance – high individual performance, while contributing positively to others’ performance without compromising their health – are 17% more productive and 1.7 times more likely to stay at their organization than other employees.

The research also found that Connector managers boost sustainable performance by as much as 45%.

The three tactics to ensure managers are prepared to lead their teams in a hybrid setting include:

Resilience

The shift to hybrid work has meant that teams are more geographically dispersed. Organizations can support stronger intentional collaboration by empowering employees to develop new collaboration habits that work for them in today’s environment, providing equal access to multiple worksite options, and calibrating virtual team norms with HR, Gartner said.

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“HR leaders should also empower managers with the flexibility to reprioritize resources as circumstances change, ensure key outcomes are visible to direct reports and realign performance management goals with business priorities,” Duffy said. “Gartner research shows managers who can effectively reprioritize resources and goals are 27% more likely to sustain their team’s workforce health.”

Human-Centric Managers

The company says that to support employees, HR leaders must help managers develop the skills they need to navigate difficult conversations that foster team cohesion, inclusion and psychological safety.

“This entails teaching managers to not only develop the skills to navigate vulnerable conversations with their direct reports, but also tailoring their approach to different employees to develop a deep understanding of their behaviors in context.”

The research stresses that organizations must not overlook the well-being of managers. A survey of 75 HR leaders found that 68% of HR leaders believe managers are overwhelmed. Yet, only 14% of organizations have redefined the manager role to reduce their responsibilities.

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“Employers need to make space for well-being in managers’ workloads by helping managers radically prioritize and giving them permission to focus on it,” said Duffy. “When employers support employees – in this case, managers – with all aspects of their health during turbulent times, not only do they have better lives, but they perform at a higher level.”

Measuring Performance

Many organizations struggled to measure the productivity of their workforce in the newly remote setting. Gartner research showed more than 1 in 4 organizations reported investing in new technology to passively monitor their employees in 2020.

”To create a high-performing workforce, organizations should foster a culture where employees feel seen, not surveilled.”

The study says HR leaders should:

  1. Articulate a clear objective for monitoring employees, and help leaders and managers develop a common understanding of when to use it.
  2. Choose metrics to measure the quality and impact of employees’ work. Organizations should use metrics for employees’ benefit, such as to gain context about their experiences and to identify work frictions.
  3. Explain the purpose behind tracking, including how it is intended to benefit them.
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