How managers can take the next step to be great leaders

Lisa Vandertogt, Senior People Scientist, Culture Amp, highlights the key people skills that will allow managers to be successful leaders.
By: | December 14, 2022

For organisations and employees alike, events in the last two years have created challenging circumstances. While organisations have been compelled to undergo business restructures in the face of financial challenges, the physical and mental wellbeing of many employees suffered, as they dealt with both illness and a new way of working.

Yet, there is a group of employees who have arguably been most adversely impacted by the pandemic, as Lisa Vandertogt, Senior People Scientist, Culture Amp, pointed out, “Through our internal research, we have seen that managers are at greater risk of burnout, with reduced perceptions of work/life blend when compared to other employees.”

“Managers also need to navigate the tensions between their direct reports and their own bosses, as well as their own thoughts, feelings, and uncertainties. They have a plethora of logistical and operational problems to solve, and have to take decisive action to drive change, all while supporting their teams to navigate their concerns.”

Speaking with HRM Asia, Vandertogt encouraged organisations to provide their managers with tailored support and development at a time when they face growing uncertainty and pressures to fit everything in.

For example, instead of focusing on one-off leadership programmes, organisations can build a culture of continuous learning that empowers managers and leaders to continuously develop and refine their skills through workshops, digital courses, playbooks, and peer coaching.

Conversational micro-learning has also been a popular tool for helping managers practice critical skills and achieve sustainable behavioural change in just a few minutes per day,” Vandertogt added. “Whatever methods your company chooses to employ, supporting a culture of development through manager development can significantly improve engagement, performance, and people’s overall experience at work.”

Creating the next generation of great leaders

For managers to become the leaders that their organisations need them to be to successfully navigate the future, acquiring critical people skills will be the all-important next step to take.

Vandertogt said, “With the challenges experienced over the past few years, people skills have increasingly come under the spotlight. To help narrow down which skills are most critical and in-demand, our team of People Scientists asked senior organisational leaders what they wanted their managers to improve most.”

Managers who master strategic thinking can make better decisions in the face of uncertainty and work with their teams to set and develop plans to achieve key targets.

Managers must also be skilled in conducting effective 1-on-1s sessions with their direct reports. These sessions form the bedrock of the manager-employee relationship and provide an opportunity for managers to enhance their connections with their employees, establish alignment across initiatives, and remove stumbling blocks so employees can grow. 

Thirdly, managers must be equipped with the productivity skills that will allow them to manage their workload and energy levels to maximise output, quality, delivery, and wellbeing for themselves and their teams.

Vandertogt added, “In addition to these skills, it is important for employees, managers, and leaders to leverage the power of self-reflection to improve their development opportunities. When comparing companies that include self-reflection as part of their performance process, to those who don’t, including self-reflections greatly improved employees’ perceptions of learning and development.”

Prioritising a developmental approach in 2023

With the talent crunch likely to persist into 2023, including in the Asia-Pacific region, there are many challenges facing leaders in the new year.

These, according to Vandertogt, include attracting talent with the right skills, developing and upskilling employees for the future of work, navigating hybrid work and collaboration, and supporting employee wellbeing and mental health.

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Leaders will need to focus on supporting career growth and development, as this is one of the key drivers of employee engagement and one of the most cited reasons.” – Lisa Vandertogt, Senior People Scientist, Culture Amp.

Within this context, leaders have a vital role to play in strengthening the employee experience. “To do this, leaders will need to focus on supporting career growth and development, as this is one of the key drivers of employee engagement and one of the most cited reasons an employee decides to leave an organisation,” she explained. 

“To better understand how to support and grow employees, organisations can start by listening to employees’ aspirations, motivations, and skills. They can also empower managers to support employees to create and achieve individualised and dynamic development plans.”

READ: Why organisational success begins with employee development

As leaders continue to put in place their organisation’s development plans for 2023, Culture Amp continues to be committed to providing best-practice solutions that provide the right information at the right time, and support leaders to continuously improve their approach.

“Using Culture Amp, managers and leaders can listen to their team and take action to enhance the employee experience, gather feedback on employee effectiveness at all levels to identify strength and opportunity areas, facilitate fair and equitable performance approaches, and support tailored employee development planning.”

“They can also use Culture Amp’s 1-on-1 tool to have effective and collaborative check-ins with their direct reports and access a range of micro-learnings that use behavioural science to fast-track and fine-tune essential managerial skills,” Vandertogt concluded.

Click here to learn more about how Culture Amp is empowering managers and leaders to become culture creators.