It is well-known that middle managers are key to organisational and team success. If you delve into the job description of what a manager does, it is likely you will come up with keywords such as ‘leading’, ‘supervising’, and ‘overseeing’. These work activities could be categorised under ‘management’. The Economist defines it as the business of running organisations efficiently, reliably, and productively. So how is management important to an organisation?
According to the World Management Survey, management is a strong predictor differentiator in productivity between the most and least productive firms across countries. Organisations with better management also tend to be more profitable, grow more quickly and offer better work-life balance for their people. With such a high importance in driving success, it is no surprise that more financial budget has now been invested in upskilling middle managers. And it is crucial to know that there is a stark contrast in the skills required from managers before and after the pandemics.
As accelerated by the pandemic outbreak, organisations are shifting their ways of working from the office-based environment to hybrid or home working. More than 60% of UK-based organisations are now offering hybrid working as an option for their people. This fundamentally changes how people connect and collaborate at the workplace. Managers must now learn new skills to manage a hybrid team that are co-located between the office and home. The increased blurriness of boundary between work and personal life will also push managers to develop knowledge to manage their teams wellbeing. The degree of flexibility offered for team members across place and time could also be a challenge on fairness and equality for managers.
At HSM Advisory, we summarise the 3 core skills that are critical for managers to drive sustainable high performance in a hybrid way:
Performance-focused Leadership Skills – Managers are key to navigating the team and driving sustainable high performance within a hybrid environment. Prior to the pandemic, managers mainly coordinated their teams across the axis of ‘time’. As hybrid working becomes more prevalent, there is now an increased need for managers to consider the additional axis of ‘place’ with an aim to build a performance-led fluid team.
Human-centric Skills – Based on our survey across 100 different organisations, more than a quarter of people agreed that ‘being human-centric’ is the top characteristics of successful managers in the post-pandemic time. To create a human-centric environment, we recommend the following activities to build a positive people experience: (1) crafting time for social events, (2) creating space for people, (3) build trust through transparency, (4) being intentional around flexibility and inclusivity, and (5) developing themselves. These can effectively enable managers to foster the sense of belonging and trust at the workplace.
Hybrid-enabling Skills – The ability of managers to make team agreements is critical to build a fair and equitable work environment. It may not be obvious but the implementation of hybrid working could entrench the existing inequalities. An example is the decision-making process on the flexibility offered for “fixed-based” and “office-based” workers under hybrid. While the latter enjoy the benefit of greater flexibility of place, managers should be able to explore and offer the flexibility of time for the formers.