After more than two years of a global pandemic, the nature of work—where we work, how we work, and what we want out of our jobs—has evolved. Employees have reevaluated their professional priorities and expectations and many have become more vocal about the management styles that contribute to stress, dissatisfaction and burnout.
As organizations bring teams back into the office—either full-time or in a hybrid model—managers need to refresh their approach to engaging, motivating and connecting with their teams. Today’s candidate-favoring market further fuels the need to optimize management styles and employee engagement strategies.
Poor management has been a measurable contributor to low morale, toxic company culture, and employee turnover for decades. Low-performing managers have directly contributed to recent widespread employee attrition. In a 2022 survey of hundreds of employees in the United States, 66% of respondents assigned to low-performing managers indicated that they were considering leaving their jobs. Among employees of high-performing managers, just 15% said the same.
Management’s impact on current employees isn’t the only concern for organizations. Poor managers are also detrimental to a company’s recruiting process. In this labor market, job seekers—especially top candidates—have the power to be discerning in their job searches. They conduct research, read reviews, and seek input from their network when they’re considering an opportunity. A reputation for apathetic management or toxic workplace culture can be a huge barrier to hiring the best talent, especially since today’s candidates value a positive work environment and empathetic managers more than ever before.
As organizations look toward their post-pandemic “normal,” it is vital for their people managers to respond to this new reality with compassion and flexibility.
Let’s explore some of the skills and competencies that are critical to effective management in today’s world.
Reagan Mullins, Managing Partner and Line of Business Leader, Strategic Staffing
Adapt your management style to the individuals on your team
The saying “coach the person, not the player” applies to more than just sports. In a work environment, it’s easy for a manager to see their team as a single unit with one set of needs, motivations, and goals. In reality, a team is composed of individual people—and those people have different backgrounds, perspectives, circumstances, aptitudes, and communication styles.
Instead of expecting employees to adapt to your style of management, you should adapt your management approach to their individual needs:
- Get to know each team member on a personal basis by scheduling recurring one-on-one meetings. Ensure the team member understands that the time is dedicated to any topics, information, concerns or opportunities that they would like to discuss.
- Pay attention to each employee’s unique communication style and the types of projects in which they excel and/or display strong interest or passion.
- Establish psychologically safe spaces for each team member to speak candidly and be vulnerable about their struggles, concerns, fears, and goals.
- Build trust by displaying and encouraging vulnerability and being a present, empathetic listener.
Give outstanding team members the chance to level up
Many managers, especially those on understaffed teams, have a “do it all” mentality. They tend to avoid delegating tasks, even when they can and should. Assuming too many responsibilities can lead to manager burnout and missed opportunities to let high-performing employees rise to the challenge.
Once effective relationships are developed with each team member, it’s easier to identify the individuals who are ready for more responsibility. By delegating your tasks, you give those employees a chance to expand their skills and competencies, while freeing up more of your own time to focus on strategy.
Prioritize face-to-face interaction
In the hybrid work environment, virtual meetings are a fact of life. While a video chat may never fully replace an in-person conversation, managers should still prioritize personal connection in their interactions with employees. Try to limit off-camera meetings, especially in one-on-ones with your direct reports. Being on camera provides employees the opportunity to observe and respond to critical facial cues and body language; it also affirms that you’re giving them your full attention.
Create a culture of inclusivity, empathy and comfort
Staying engaged with your employees, through regular one-on-ones, check-ins and face-to-face interactions, helps create a work culture rooted in personal connection. Acknowledge, encourage, and reward empathy and authenticity to foster an inclusive environment for all of your team members. Be informed about your team members’ struggles and concerns. Follow up on any issues they’ve divulged to you, and do your best to provide support and resources as they navigate solutions.
Managers that prioritize empathy, inclusivity, and openness in the work environment do more than drive better performance and higher productivity; they also drive employee satisfaction and increased retention rates.
Learn more about Vaco’s business consulting and talent solutions or reach out to get connected with one of our experts today.
Learn more about our thought leader
Reagan Mullins is a managing partner, serves as National Line of Business Leader for Strategic Staffing, and oversees Vaco’s staffing practice in the Birmingham market.