It is a strange working environment, to say the least. On one side there has been a spate of layoffs and they have been going on for some time. More importantly, the layoffs are happening in companies considered to be culturally and financially sound. Major Industries that have announced mass layoffs, job cuts, downsizing, hiring freezes, and furloughs are Information technology, Construction, transportation, and logistics. On the other hand, renewable energy, e-commerce, digital services, healthcare, banking, and financial technology are among the emerging industries for employment.
In this context, it is important to take cognizance of the impact of this ambiguity and uncertainty on employees. The surviving employees start questing the culture and stability of the organization. They feel overworked and undervalued. There is increased stress, demotivation, and burnout. All this if unaddressed can lead to a drop in productivity.
And once again the role of people managers comes to the forefront. Whether we like it or not, people managers have accountability for both business results as well as the well-being of their team members. And during this time, an organization will benefit hugely by supporting people managers with the right competencies needed.
People management competencies have undergone a shift over the last few years due to varied reasons. The kind of experience people had during covid has made them reprioritize and repurpose work and life. Secondly, we cannot stop time from ticking and the introduction of Generation Z and the increase of Millennials in the workforce is another factor. Thirdly, the varying models of working- remote, work from home, work from anywhere, hybrid, and completely from office add to the complexity. Lastly, the world has become a global village with geographical boundaries not being of much significance in the world of work. Teams are multicultural with team members from multiple nationalities working together. People managers have to handle, and intersection of all these complexities, while organizations, especially the large traditional ones remain slow to change.
Where employees want flexibility, the organization mandates ‘work from office’. And this is not just true for manufacturing companies where it is a necessity to run the line.
Where employees want hyper-personalized learning and career journeys, they have mandated learning calendars and online modules.
Where employees want contemporary policies that are aligned with their life stage and diverse demographics, there is a one size fits all approach.
And in all this, Managers need to drive business results through their team members and ensure motivation and retention. Whether Managers have a small team or a large team, it is important for them to remember that they are dealing with people; people who have feelings, aspirations, goals, families, worries, etc. Building Empathy and listening skills in managers is one of the most important focus areas for organizations today. Conversations between managers and the team should not be just about work but should transcend work so that Managers truly know and understand their team as human beings. Compelling and two-way communication helps the team bond and unite toward common goals.
The second area of focus is the ability to build psychological safety through trust and transparency. A team that trusts their manager, will be willing to put in their heart and soul into the team goals.
The third area should be to enable managers to give timely real-time constructive feedback. Today, employees are constantly looking for ways of learning, doing better, and growing. Leveraging feedback as an ongoing process can be both motivating for employees as well as drive productivity.
The fourth area for managers should be to be able to lead and nurture diverse teams. They should be able to lead talent irrespective of gender, age, sexual orientation, gender expressions and identity, religion, disability, or any other difference. Sensitization on unconscious bias, its manifestation along the employee lifecycle, and its impact on people’s decisions is key.
We must not forget that after recovering from pandemic, we must apply what we learned during past years Employees are our most critical asset, and we must ensure that are aligned, motivated, and happy. And Managers play a key role here. We need to focus on building managerial capabilities in order to make a future ready organization.