Are we neglecting managers in the new world of work?

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Sep 15 2023 by Marco Favaloro Print This Article

Managers are at risk of being neglected in the new world of work according to a new research report from Insights which reveals that whilst managers believe their teams are performing, collaborating, and innovating better in the new hybrid world of work, many of them are struggling at a personal level.

Insights surveyed more than 3,000 office workers from across the globe about their experiences of the hybrid workplace, including how they prefer to work, challenges, opportunities and areas in which they would like more development.

On the positive side, 50% of managers of hybrid teams reported that hybrid working has had a positive impact on team agility and performance, while only 15% consider this impact to be negative. They also report that hybrid working has made the sharing of ideas easier, improved employee well-being through work-life balance and made giving and receiving feedback easier.

On the downside, three quarters of respondents said that since the global pandemic it's more challenging to make strong connections with their teams. Almost as many (71%) said they struggled with not being about to give as much emotional or professional support as they’d like, and it seems that the psychological safety net for our managers is at risk by burnout.

Surprisingly one in five managers said they struggled with feelings of loneliness, and many (30%) felt they had to prove their ‘worth’ while working remotely – far higher than among the non-management population. Managers couldn’t be clearer; 39% said they need more support to connect with their team, 30% need help to build stronger relationships with stakeholders and 30% need support in giving and receiving both positive and constructive feedback (36%).

So here are three suggestions for supporting managers that can be implemented today:

Invest in human skills centred on self-awareness

The hybrid working environment is both dynamic and demanding – so it’s time to further equip your managers by investing human qualities such as empathy, resilience, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. This will help managers to build positive and productive relationships more quickly and will give them the resources they need to navigate the complexities of the hybrid world of work. How empathetic and compassionate are your managers currently in managing these emotions virtually?

Developing self-awareness, awareness of others and team awareness is a great place to start. At Insights we talk about self-awareness through the use of colour – this gives a non-judgemental language for teams to talk about interpersonal preferences. Our colour energy model, Insights Discovery, is underpinned by Jungian psychology principles and is a way to cut through the complexity of why we behave the way we do.

Using this, we are able to describe our personalities in accordance with our preferences, aligned with three main spectrums: introversion/extraversion, thinking/feeling, sensation/intuition. Insights Discovery takes this information and plots our interpersonal preferences on a wheel model with four colour energies - Fiery Red, Sunshine Yellow, Earth Green and Cool Blue. Insights Discovery can help your people understand different preferences, techniques and strategies for building better connections with others, and give tips which will help improve connections and communication for improved outcomes and greater trust.

This model is simple to understand and adopt and is built on the premise of ethical reciprocity. It cannot be replicated by AI or machine learning approaches.

Develop a psychological safety net by growing team culture

Driving psychological well-being is so important for managers and the teams they lead. Being able to speak up without the risk of humiliation or retribution is a critical driver for healthy group dynamics and being able to make quality decisions as a manager. As managers, encourage more openness and candour from your people, reward reliability and positively acknowledge authenticity. This will create a climate of mutual respect, understanding, and positive regard within your teams.

At Insights, we encourage everyone to bring their authentic selves to work. This sort of encouragement helps people to speak their truth and bring their unique voice to a conversation – whether that’s in a virtual or in-person setting. The development of team culture can be illustrated by managers asking for their teams to remove subjective biases and overlay the Insights non-threatening language of colour to express their inner thoughts. This approach works and improves team performance.

Invest in an Emotional Support Plan

Taking the first step in developing an emotional connection with your managers will pay off. The research found that managers want more support to connect with and manage teams. With 73% of hybrid managers wanting hybrid working to continue for the remainder of their careers, it’s time to make a mind-shift approach and recalibrate how we support managers to be successful in the new world of work. The importance of recalibrating our ways of working and supporting managers is a major consideration with one in five managers feeling that their development needs are not being addressed by their organisation.

We’ve created ‘meeting-free Fridays’ every other week, to ensure time can be set aside for self-reflection, self-development, or to make new connections and learn from other colleagues. We regularly commence our connect calls and meetings with a check-in. I encourage all leaders to start their meetings with this simple entry into more insightful and colourful conversations.

Managers are a key asset linking the top and bottom threads of an organisation and we must support them entering this new world of work. By taking on board these three tips, you can ensure that they are prepared both practically and emotionally for leading their hybrid teams.

About The Author

Marco Favaloro
Marco Favaloro

Marco Favaloro is the Head of APAC for Insights Learning and Development- supporting individuals, teams and organisations to ultimately improve their performance by addressing key challenges. He has been developing managers, leaders and coaches over the past 20 years and has proven success in driving peak performance.