The Changing Focus Of Managers In The Pandemic And Post-Pandemic Eras
March 3, 2022
I invite you to take a moment to think back to the start of last April. Reality was just beginning to set in that a digital-first approach to work and life would be the norm for so many. In reaction to the shift, leaders had to quickly begin adapting to support the evolving needs of their organizations.
From office space to safety protocols, performance reviews to team meetings, virtual products to job functions, I am not sure if there is anything about work that the pandemic has left untouched. And managers may be feeling the weight of change to an even higher degree than others.
Remote and hybrid work has elevated the role of people leaders as the lynchpin between the C-suite and employees. They are tasked with communicating change initiatives, motivating staff, keeping their people connected to the organization as well as raising team challenges and needs to executives.
As we look to the future of work, managers will continue to be instrumental to the performance of the organization and their employees, and their priorities may look a little different than in the past. To be a successful team leader, consider seven areas of focus.
Seven Priorities for Managers in the New Age of Work
1. Practice Emotional Intelligence
2. Inspire with Purpose
3. Coach for Adaptability
4. Focus on Wellbeing
5. Create a Culture of Inclusion
6. Advocate for Team Autonomy
7. Communicate with Clarity
Practice Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence (EQ) has been essential to effectively support staff through the ups and downs of the past year and help them maintain productivity. When the pandemic subsides, these skills will remain critical as employees will continue to navigate rapid change in their work. By developing your EQ, you can amplify your own success as a leader, enhance relationships with others and better motivate and support the performance of your teams. If you are looking for a place to start, focus first on building your self-awareness.
Inspire with Purpose
As organizational priorities evolve, managers can re-energize staff by promoting a sense of purpose. When you take time to focus on the meaning behind work and explain why employees are being asked to do something, you can engender buy-in for change and motivate your teams to perform. I also invite you to connect your staff’s work to the bigger picture of your company’s vision. By showing your people how they meaningfully contribute to the new trajectory of the organization, you can inspire them.
Coach for Adaptability
Many individuals have experienced shifts in their job functions over the past 12 months, and their job roles are likely to continue to evolve to meet future business needs. By helping staff be more adaptable, you can empower them to manage change, build new skills and set themselves up for success. To encourage adaptability, you may consider offering stretch assignments and carving out time for professional development. For more ideas, explore a recent blog from my colleague!
Focus on Wellbeing
80% of respondents to Deloitte’s 2020 Global Human Capital Trends report that wellbeing is important to organizational success. As the lines between work and life blur in remote or hybrid functions, it’s even more imperative to focus on employees’ mental and emotional health. Check in with staff to see how they are doing, promote self-care and work to implement flexible schedules. Most importantly, listen to your team members’ needs. By prioritizing their wellness, you can help your people succeed.
Create a Culture of Inclusion
To collaborate across digital and onsite workspaces, team members need to feel a sense of belonging. Within your team, recognize and honor your staff’s differences as assets, so individuals feel appreciated for their whole selves. To further support inclusion, make time for team building, encourage staff to consider multiple perspectives and regularly acknowledge the brilliances that each person brings to the group. By engaging your team’s natural cognitive diversity, you are more likely to achieve better results and create a more positive work environment.
Advocate for Team Autonomy
Having the ability to take ownership over one’s work is as motivating as ever. As a manager, you can be an advocate for your team’s autonomy and work with leadership to allow for more decentralized decision making to accelerate the pace of work and better meet stakeholder needs. To empower staff to put their best foot forward, you may also coach them on how they can use cognitive diversity to make quality decisions.
Communicate with Clarity
Effective communication is essential when you are working with anyone, and especially so with remote or hybrid team members. Make communication a priority by carefully considering any message that you deliver, tailoring it to your audience and being as transparent as possible. Communication is a two-way street, so be mindful to create space for productive conversations to understand your audience’s perspectives and address concerns. To understand the value of communication, I encourage you to read our recent blog and visit our website.
The new age of work has brought a great deal of change to the function and practices of managers. While the transition may feel a bit overwhelming, there are many possibilities that can come out of adaptation.
As you identify opportunities to improve your leadership and help your team be more productive in their roles, I invite you to reflect on your approach over the past year. With the suggestions above and an honest assessment of your experiences, you can become a more inspiring, impactful leader.