With the abundance of information available online, access to courses, and the latest workplace innovations ready at the tap of a finger, not to mention the increasing accessibility of working remotely, it’s clear to see that workplaces are shifting. It is perhaps not surprising then, that the role of the manager is shifting also, and companies need to follow suit and evolve too. In order to push for success, drive results and boost revenue, it is time to overhaul your company’s management operating system.
Understanding Today’s Manager Role
In today’s business world, there is an increase in employee autonomy, where more and more, employees are taking initiative and independently tackling problems. And while this is a positive change, in many cases it means that managers’ traditional role has been relegated to the side lines. Rather than thinking that the manager’s role is not as necessary as it used to be, companies need to instead see that managers are even more important than ever. As leaders, managers will always have a disproportionate influence they can use to impact both their team and the company. It’s a matter of shifting perceptions and viewing these roles differently: modern managers are coaches not bosses.
Supporting the Manager in a New Role
The question then becomes, how can I support my managers to help them become better coaches? In many cases, managers need to be coached into coaching. You can think of it as teaching the teachers!
- Increase Training
Managers, just like all employees, need to keep learning. Redefining a manager as a coach doesn’t mean eliminating external training. Rather, it calls for the need to find specialised instructors and mentors who can facilitate in the development and progression of leaders. It raises the importance of finding the best of the best – coaches themselves, who can motivate managers into coaching and leadership roles by giving them the training, education, and knowledge to do so, then inspiring them to turn around and take this experience to their teams.
- Introduce Productivity Tools
While there are many benefits to increasing the numbers of remote employees and options for working outside the office, it also has its disadvantages: specifically, the lack of manager-employee interaction. Without this dynamic, managers are not as easily able to foster engagement and productivity amongst their team and act as a motivator towards effectiveness by their sheer presence alone.
It is the company’s role to provide managers with tools to increase team productivity and to elevate the effectiveness of the team, even remotely. This comes down to more than just conference calls and messaging. But also includes video and online platforms that support and improve team engagement, morale and productivity. There are several options on the market. Some people use Facebook some WhatsApp and others Skype or Slack. My favourites are Webex, Spark and StandOut. Remember, at the end of the day what is important is the outcome: integration of different team member contributions, engagement and collaboration no matter where they are located or the time-zones they are working.
We are facing a time where the 9-5, co-located job is waning, but that doesn’t mean that efficiency and effectiveness need to be out the window. Instead, we need to take advantage of the technology available to encourage that success outside of the typical working hours and office environment.
- Change the Culture
In many ways, when it comes to developing better managers and re-defining their roles, we need to go back to basics: we need to create managers who can effectively manage people and lead engaged teams. But, manage people and lead teams in and for the 21st Century. The world of work has changed a lot in the past twenty years, but, it seems as if many companies are encouraging their managers to lead like it’s 1996. There are so many technological advances and possibilities available, that in many cases, a manager can set up automated systems to oversee much of the inspection and supervision role of their work. However, the traditional inspection and supervision role is not enough. Especially if we want an engaged workforce.
This is a fundamental shift in workplace culture and attitude that many companies would do well to prioritize.
Workplaces are changing, people are changing, and business is changing. And now, it is time for your business to evolve: take advantage of the potential of your managers, giving them the education, support and tools they need to shift into roles as coaches. This will not only upgrade their productivity but will help to re-shape your company’s foundation and see your business improve as a result.
Robert Kovach is the Director of Leader Success for Cisco’s Leadership and Team Intelligence Practice Area. He has been an advisor to leadership teams of Fortune 500, FTSE 100 and FTSE Global 500 companies on driving business strategy through executive leadership effectiveness and organizational agility. The opinions expressed in this blog are his own and not those of Cisco. Contact him for speaking enquiries.