Three trends challenge the traditional definitions of the manager role:
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Managers are overburdened by the demands of the changing work environment. Actions that focus on empathy is time-consuming.
In recognising the pressure on managers to maintain team connectedness in a remote environment, leaders should rebalance their managers' workload. Managers should prioritise their workload to focus on fewer, higher-impact relationships with individuals and teams.
Gartner analysis shows that 46% of the workforce is projected to be working hybrid in the near future for midsize companies. Employees will have more choices about where, when, and how much they work.
In the past, managers used to be selected and promoted if they were able to manage and evaluate the performance of employees. Now managers are increasingly hired based on their ability to be great coaches and teachers.
The most effective managers of the future will be able to lead with empathy, although the 2021 Garner survey shows that only 47% of managers are prepared for this future role.
Qualities of the empathic manager:
While managers understand empathy, they are unsure how to use it as a managers tool.
How to build empathy:
While the roles of managers have expanded, roles and teams are not structured to support well-being.
Managers are more motivated to be empathic when they have a support system. Goodway Groups, a fully remote company, acknowledges that distributed teams face greater challenges with communication and shared visibility. They created a team success partner whose duties include fostering trust and psychological safety and supporting team health. Managers work with the team success partners.
During the pandemic, companies had to rethink how to engage employees when they couldn't physically be together.
Now that they bring teams back, not all employees want to return to the way things were. Companies need unique office environments that encourage collaboration for a hybrid workforce. Managers should consider the work personas to create new arrangements.
Most companies embracing remote work also have dedicated headquarters. But remote-ish teams have even more communication and collaboration challenges than fully remote teams.
For example, in hybrid teams, remote employees are often left in the dark. Office workers are often heard, recognized, and promoted, while remote workers are forgotten.
Fixing employee productivity in the industrial age, when most workers were handling machinery and it’s parts, was a tedious but doable process. The managers had to fix the people who were making mistakes or were inefficient through systematic management.
Today, in the age of software and intellectual property, when half of the workforce is made up of knowledge workers, the old practices are of no use.