Responsibilities of a Manager in a Hybrid Work Model

One would think the post-pandemic hybrid or online workplace does not need managers. The truth, however, is that we do need managers, but what is required from them, that is the responsibilities of a manager has changed. Let us look at what managers are going through in this turbulent present.

Managers face an immense amount of pressure to provide support to their teams in a hybrid work setting. Work being done remotely and new advancements in technologies being used as well as a change in expectations from employees has challenged managerial roles. Organisations must now provide managers with a platform to be empathetic, motivate the performance of employees and foster trust among the team.

The reality of the workplace has changed majorly, and managers must be able to confront it. There is a lot of turbulence socially, and the fusion of work and life along with hybrid work is the new normal has resulted in a new complex layer and pressure being added to the traditional roles they are expected to carry out. Many employees have made hybrid work their preferred mode of working and can now decide about the location, timings and amount of work they do.

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This has made a few factors common in most organisations that should be considered when planning the responsibilities of a manager:

  • Employees now have minimal interaction with the management.
  • Employees barely spend any time at the office location.
  • Employees have minimal interaction with their peers and colleagues.
  • The number of employees that report to the manager and the responsibilities of a manager has skyrocketed, resulting in a lot of difficulties while providing assistance which is personalised and hands-on.
  • Research has shown that 70% of HR experts have stated that managers have overwhelming responsibilities today.
  • Most employees are now turning to colleagues to get advice and help that, traditionally, a manager would provide. Brian Kropp, the chief of research at Gartner, has observed that employees feel that their managers are unaware of their daily work when compared to coworkers and peers. Hence employees feel more comfortable seeking job coaching and advice from their colleagues instead.
  • This may lead to an environment where an average employee is more likely to get higher value from their peer relationship than from their managerial relationship.

Three factors that affect traditional responsibilities of a manager

Traditionally, the success of managers was measured on the basis of the manager’s ability to evaluate the performance of employees and manage them. Today, this has changed. HR executives now wish to hire as well as develop individuals in managerial roles who have the aptitude to be teachers and coaches. This model, however, faces several challenges mainly due to three main trends:

  1. Remote Mode of Working: Managers, as well as their team of employees, are working most of the time remotely as compared to working in offices. In most manager-employee associations, the employee or the manager is remote for some time at the least. Due to this, managers have very little knowledge and visibility about the realities of the day-to-day goings of the employees and should try to focus on output more than on processes that are used to produce it.
  2. Technology: Today, many companies have invested in technologies that can do the same things that managers were traditionally hired to do. These include software to create schedules and expense report auditing tools enabled with AI and technologies that can even replace manager feedback.
  3. Expectation from Employees: Employees have become vocal about what they need to maintain influence, flexibility, and self-determination at the workplace and are also not afraid to speak about dissatisfaction. Employees today expect higher levels of authenticity, flexibility and empathy; hence, the managerial relationship has shifted. It is now more supportive and emotional with an expectation for managers to play a vital role in the support system of employees so that there is an improvement not just in employee experience but life experience too.

A brand new role of the manager

Organisations today must make an effort to equip their managers so they can operate in an empathetic manner. When a manager is compassionate, their employee has a low likelihood of quitting, are more engaged and have overall good well-being, and perform much better. Empathy is an important differentiator leading employees to perform better in a hybrid work environment.

What is empathy?

To be empathetic, managers must foster trust and develop a culture of acceptance. This is a lot to ask and demands managers to:

  1. Ask questions that result in vulnerable answers while keeping trust intact.
  2. Diagnose and investigate the root cause of how an employee behaves without assuming the reason.

Gartner’s research has shown that less than 50% of managers feel prepared to employ empathy when leading their team. Managers today must act like social workers and a counsellor to support their employees in a challenging workplace and world. Kropp states that if you wish your employee not to talk to you about their personal conditions and conflicts, and if you cannot support them, you may rethink your career choice as a manager. The reality is that responsibilities of managers have evolved with time and managers will have to do too.

Reference: Are Managers Moot? |Gartner | Jordan Turner | May 09, 2022

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