Sally Kirkright, CEO, AccessEAP believes that in order for managers to be able to meet the demands of their role, additional training and support is needed.
“Traditionally, managers were required to plan, organise, coordinate and achieve specific goals whereas due to the changing work environment, in addition they are now required to be inspirational leaders and obtain the most from their people,” said Kirkright. “Not all managers are natural born leaders and in order to fill that role, they in turn need to be provided with additional leadership training and support.”
According to the recent ‘Leadership in the Australian Workplace’ study, much of this pressure managers face is coming from employees with 75 per cent of respondents agreeing that Australia needs better management and leadership. A quarter believed there was no one in their workplace they could look up to as a good leader. In order to help fill the gap between what employees are demanding and what managers are capable of doing, organisations need to look at ways of up-skilling its managerial workforce.
So how do we become better managers and leaders? Good communication and motivation skills, the ability to bring out the best in people and promoting staff engagement are just some of the skills necessary to progress as a manager today. Not only are managers expected to be great leaders, there are also a number of other challenges they face.
Here, Sally Kirkright looks at some of the challenges facing managers and offers tips and training solutions on how they can best manage.
When having to address issues such as staff behaviour, poor performing staff members or staff reviews, managers should be able to lean on someone for support and advice. The first step is often just to stop, listen and understand the situation, something managers can sometimes forget when they find themselves in difficult situations. Managers think they need to have all the answers and at times are unsure of how to listen and communicate about behaviour. Organisations may offer an independent service to give guidance and support to help empower managers which is a particularly useful tool for providing additional support to managers in demanding situations.
Managing organisational changes
Restructuring and redundancy is a difficult and stressful time for all concerned with employees often faced with new and challenging tasks. Redundancy is one of the toughest changes an organisation has to manage. Not only are the effects felt by the employees being made redundant, but also by employees that are staying. Managers making the difficult decisions and delivering the news to employees can benefit from talking through different approaches. Managers can seek the support of a consultancy team to assist through this time and discuss how to communicate and motivate the employees who are staying. It is vital that managers explain why a role is being made redundant, what the consequences for the staff member are and the immediate next steps.
Today’s managers are expected to nurture and train staff and bring out the best in all employees and they often need to acquire these extra skills to be able to do so. With one in five people likely to experience a mental health issue in their lifetime, managers increasingly have to manage employees who are experiencing mental health concerns. There are a number of tailored workplace programs available that can educate a manager on how to support and maximise individual and workplace wellbeing. Remember, you need to invest in the wellbeing of your staff to maximise productivity.
Improve communication skills
In today’s competitive landscape, workplace conflict is unfortunately inevitable as the pressure of getting the job done can create tension between co-workers and management. Conflict must be properly managed to reduce the risk of escalation and strong communication skills are the most effective tool to do so. Understanding causes and types of conflict can help choose the best approach. Communicating effectively is essential to negotiating and managing conflict. A quick intervention can help reduce staff turnover, productivity loss and absenteeism.
Leading through a crisis
Effective crisis management can be vital in today’s business environment; a company’s reputation can depend on it. As crises such as workplace accidents and natural disasters are something that rarely happen, if ever, managers may be unaware how best to manage the emotional impact of these situation if they occur. Critical incidents are usually overwhelming for everyone and knowing the right things to say and do will allow employees to recover and cope more quickly. This is helpful in restoring calm and reducing the longer term impact on workers and helping return the workplace to its pre-crisis state as soon as possible. Effective intervention is always best and will ensure a quick return to normal productivity.
When we consider what is now expected of managers and look at the wide variety of challenges they face, it’s no surprise that management support and training is becoming an essential investment in any workplace.