How to support your managers as your company grows
Today’s business world is more personalized than ever. Everything from performance review metrics to career pathing and development to on-the-job training and coaching is tailored to the individual employee.
And for good reason – everyone is at a different place and has different needs. An individualized approach is generally much more effective than a one-size-fits-all approach.
However, as a company grows, it becomes more difficult to ensure that everyone gets both the amount of attention they need and the personalization necessary for optimal growth. Achieving this balance often falls to the managers in a company, as they deal most directly with the employees.
While it’s always important to support your managers, actively scaling your company brings with it unique challenges. And unique challenges call for a unique strategy.
Managers in these circumstances are dealing with increasing numbers of reports, higher expectations, and a rapidly shifting organizational structure. And, thanks to workplace changes brought on by the pandemic, there’s a good chance they’re doing it all remotely.
These are big challenges, but they can be faced successfully. These six tips will give you a good head start.
1. Leverage a centralized management platform
As an organization grows, its information management systems also need to grow. We might be a little biased here, but at Culture Amp, we believe utilizing a central, easily accessible system for data and people management is vital for success.
A system like the Culture Amp employee experience platform brings together all your engagement, onboarding, and survey tools in one place. This can help streamline and simplify processes like performance reviews and feedback, making it much easier to keep track of the individualized programs in place for each employee.
2. Keep lines of communication open
The larger and more complex an organization becomes, the more vital it is to establish clear and consistent communication practices. This cuts down on the time spent trying to initiate communication, leaving more time for the actual work that needs to be done.
There are tons of options for communication, from tools like Trello and Slack to simply making sure everyone knows that your virtual door is always open. Whatever method your company uses, make it easy for your managers to get up and running with it.
As remote or hybrid workplaces become more popular, simple communication methods have grown in importance. By ensuring that employees know how to reach management, especially in an emergency situation, you can ease the anxieties that can accompany remote work.
3. Encourage work-life balance
This one might seem counterintuitive, but encourage your managers to work less. It’s one of the most powerful things you can do to support them as a company scales.
Working less isn’t about shirking responsibilities. It’s about avoiding overworking, and the often-unspoken expectations placed on people – especially managers – to get the job done no matter what.
Overworking is bad for a number of reasons:
- It can interfere with sleep. The added stress, time spent on screens, and always-on attitude contribute to sleep debt. Overworked managers feel fatigued all the time – until they crash, that is.
- It’s bad for the heart. Several huge studies have consistently found that working long hours increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 40% (or more, depending on the study).
- Overworking has been linked to bad habits like excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, increased social media use, and other behaviors that only add to the negative effects.
Managers often struggle with this, particularly in the era of “always-on” connectivity. It’s hard to put work down, especially when the success or failure of your team rests on your shoulders. Throw in the fact that many managers are working from home, and boundaries can disappear quickly.
Research indicates that when managers are overworked, they treat employees less fairly. This, in turn, can cause employees to disengage and not perform as well, which can further overwork the manager, leading to a vicious cycle that can be tough to break.
The solution? Encourage your management staff to set clear boundaries between their work and personal time. Be mindful of the example you set. If you send emails or other communications after hours, make it clear that you don’t expect an immediate response.
4. Ensure goals are crystal clear
As your company scales, it’s likely that your goals and targets are going to scale with it. That’s a positive thing. However, if those goals and objectives aren’t clear, it can lead to problems – and make the goals and objectives harder to reach.
Let’s say your company wants to increase sales this quarter. How much of an increase needs to happen to consider that objective met? Five percent? 10? 20? There’s a big difference between these targets, and the resulting action plan your managers put in place is going to look very different for a 5% increase than 20%.
To avoid the stress of ambiguity (and a million back-and-forth questions), make expectations as clear as possible on the front end. Your entire team will thank you, not just the managers. As an added plus, you can easily leverage tools like Culture Amp's goal-setting tools to make it easier for leaders, teams, and individuals to set, track, and align OKRs for greater clarity and faster results.
5. Use surveys liberally
Communication is one of the toughest challenges managers are likely to face, particularly in today’s hybrid work environment. Getting and keeping everyone on the same page is a challenge that can increase exponentially as a company scales and managers take on more reports.
Surveys are one of the most effective ways to gather input from a large number of people in remote locations. There are several reasons:
- They can be done asynchronously, so nobody has to interrupt more urgent or important tasks. Employees can answer when it’s convenient.
- They respect everyone’s time. A manager doesn’t have to spend hours or days in a meeting room talking with employees. While there’s value in face-to-face conversations, they aren’t always necessary (or even the best choice).
- They can be done anonymously. This is very useful if the topic of discussion is sensitive in some way, as employees might be more likely to respond honestly.
There are a ton of excellent survey platforms out there. Culture Amp has one built right into the employee experience system, including over 30 science-backed survey templates covering everything from Onboarding to Inclusion in the workplace. Tools like SurveyMonkey or Typeform can also be used to collect employee feedback.
6. Strike the right balance of support and autonomy
Scaling individualized support requires you to support your management team, but it’s possible to overdo it. In other words, there’s a fine line to walk between babying your managers and leaving them out to dry.
Autonomy is important – employees who feel they have more autonomy tend to report higher job satisfaction and overall sense of wellbeing. However, especially in today’s remote world, support is also important.
How do you know when to swing in one direction or the other? Well, we’ll refer you to point number five: surveys. Send one out to gauge how management is feeling about the level of support you’re providing and ask for specific feedback. Finding that balance between support and autonomy can be a challenge, but it can also transform your team.
Tip the scales in favor of better support for employees and managers
As companies scale, your teams may experience growing pains. People might start to feel that they are stretched too thin. This is especially true for managers, who ultimately bear the responsibility for the success or failure of their team. Strong support lets them know that you recognize their hard work and value their contributions.
From centralized tools to clear goals, make sure you are giving your management team what they need as your organization grows. Use these tips to transform your managers from stressed-out supervisors to empowered leaders.
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