While HR teams are often tasked with assisting and educating new and struggling managers, they rarely have the opportunity to get to know and support successful managers in the company. That disconnect can cause top managers to feel unsupported, unappreciated, and frustrated in their current roles, which can in turn impede organizational and departmental progress.
Fortunately, the answer is simple: make the employee experience of all your managers a top priority. Odds are your organization already has strong initiatives in place that you can adapt to recognize and develop your high-performing managers.
How can HR support managers? Here are six tactical tips for supporting managers that you can enact today.
1. Ask them how they want to be supported
Be direct with your managers. Regularly send out surveys asking your managers how HR can better support them. This might include questions on what resources they need to be a better leader, what they think the largest issues facing their teams are today, or people problems they’re experiencing.
Not only will it help you keep a pulse on the health of your managers, but it will also help you collect no-nonsense answers about what your people leaders need to succeed. Do they need new tools to keep their team organized and productive? A larger budget to increase headcount next year? Or, maybe their employees are overwhelmed and could benefit from coming together at a team event or being reminded of how to access and use your company’s employee assistance program. Frequently surveying your leaders can help them feel their voices are heard and supported. Just be sure to follow through with their requests to sustain those relationships and sentiments.
2. Recognize their contributions
Never underestimate the power of praise. While 82% of Americans don’t feel their contributions are recognized enough by their supervisors, 40% of employees say they would put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often.
Just like how your top managers recognize the contributions of their direct reports, you should call attention to and applaud the hard work that your most successful managers do day in and day out. You can share a small handwritten note, include a shout-out during a company meeting or in a Slack channel, or give a gift card to recognize and reward their exceptional contributions to the team.
It’s important that your HR team doesn’t just push managers to appreciate their employees, but also prioritizes recognizing all employees when they’ve done great work. That’s the key to establishing a company culture of recognition.
3. Organize ongoing manager education
Today’s managers are faced with new and ever-evolving challenges, like managing through a crisis, supporting a fully remote team, juggling leading a team, having kids at home full-time, etc. Sometimes annual manager trainings aren’t frequent or in-depth enough to arm people leaders with the skills and knowledge they need for manager success.
Evaluate your current manager training program and collect feedback so you can come up with ways you can improve internal training. Your managers might want quick refresher courses on giving feedback or having difficult performance conversations, or more DEIB training to help them make unbiased hiring decisions. Once you figure out what skills your people managers want to learn or hone, you can improve your training programs to ensure they’re getting the tools, skills, and support they need to continue leading their teams successfully.
4. Invest in their professional growth
Great managers take the time to prioritize their direct reports’ professional development, but oftentimes, they forget to invest in their own. Show them that your company is invested in their professional growth by encouraging them to get a certification, take a class, learn a new skill, or grow their network. If you already have an employee development stipend in place, remind your managers to lead by example by taking advantage of this perk and taking the time to invest in their professional development.
5. Create clear, defined HR processes
One common issue managers run into, especially around performance reviews, is how to kick off a promotion or compensation review. Managers want to advocate for their best employees, help them grow their careers, and, most importantly, keep them around longer. Often a promotion or salary increase plays a key role in making that a reality, but corporate red tape and vague policies can make putting an employee up for a promotion difficult and time-consuming.
Make your manager’s job easier by having clear, straightforward policies and guidance around how to lead performance reviews. Your team leads can spend less time filling out paperwork and more time working directly with their teams to achieve great results.
6. Hire talent quickly and skillfully
Lastly, HR can support managers by helping them fill their open roles quickly and efficiently. Many managers oversee resource-constrained teams and could benefit from an extra set of hands. When they post a new role, they want new, quality talent in the door fast so they can continue striving towards their departmental goals.
To help make the hiring process as quick and painless as possible, HR teams can support managers by working closely with them to source, screen, interview, and evaluate candidates to fill vacant positions.
Be transparent, organized, and communicative when outlining your recruiting plans and process. Then, hit the ground running to find top talent so managers can grow their teams and continue striving towards their goals.
Remember, your managers are your employees too. Don’t forget to invest in supporting your managers just like you would any top performer. After all, you want to keep your top leaders around as long as possible to keep your business on track and to surpass its goals.