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3 ways executives can better enable managers in 2023

Managers are feeling increased pressure in an ongoing workplace evolution that began with the pandemic. Qualtrics research shows 43% of U.S. managers feel more pressure to produce results than they did the previous year, compared to 38% of executives. Organizations can’t afford to lose top talent or have a disengaged workforce, especially during challenging economic times, and executives are leaning on managers to help keep employees engaged and focused. 

New Qualtrics research also finds managers are generally less engaged, less likely to stay and less likely to report good well-being and work-life balance than their superiors.

  • 74% of managers report feeling engaged at work, compared to 86% of executives.
  • 64% of managers intend to stay in their roles for three or more years, compared to 76% of executives.
  • 75% of managers report good well-being, compared to 84% of executives.
  • 74% of managers report good work-life balance, compared to 85% of executives.

As executives make organizational changes to best equip their organizations to weather challenging times, managers are caught in the middle—between execs rolling out changes and employees feeling the direct effects of those decisions made at the top. In fact, managers feel less supported in efforts to adapt to organizational changes than two years ago (72% in 2023 from 76% in 2021).

These are troubling trends that can have a big impact on employee engagement and the bottom line. 

Qualtrics Workplace Psychologist Dr. Benjamin Granger shares three ways executives can better support and enable their managers.

1. “Be transparent about why and how decisions are being made, especially when the impacts will be felt across the organization and in anticipation of decisions that may not be well-received. Humans are very sensitive to fairness and justice, even subconsciously. When people are unhappy with a decision, their perceptions of the fairness of the decision making process and how they were personally treated become all the more important.

Before major organizational changes are announced, ensure managers have time to process the news on a personal level and resources they can refer to so they are prepared to answer questions from their team or know who to best direct people for additional information.” 

2. “Establish shared objectives at the organizational level, including key results the business should strive for in both the short and long-term.

If managers have a strong understanding of what to focus on and are aligned with executives' expectations of the business, they will be much better equipped to help their teams prioritize their work and focus on what matters the most. This focus can also help managers identify and fix broken and inefficient work processes, leading to better productivity, cross-team collaboration and overall well-being.”

3. “Give managers the technology they need to better understand how their individual teams are doing, and empower them to take action to improve their employees’ experiences at work. Especially during a time of constant change, it’s critical for managers to keep a pulse on employee sentiment.

Beyond annual and quarterly engagement surveys at the organizational level—which managers should be given direct access to drive local action—they should also be empowered to let their teams drive the conversation and share confidential feedback about what they want to discuss. This balance of organizational- and employee-driven listening will arm managers with the feedback they need to determine the best actions to take to boost engagement and productivity across their teams throughout the year.”

Bonus: What can HR leaders do to better enable managers? 

Dr. Granger says, “A key area HR leaders can best support managers is through learning and development. Soft skills, as they are often referred to, are the hard skills of leadership. Whether someone is managing teams for the first time or has years of experience, there are always opportunities to improve, especially in refining soft skills. Specific areas to focus on right now  include how to demonstrate vulnerability, how to manage diverse teams, how to manage people in hybrid and remote work environments and how to communicate with empathy.”

Free eBook: Empower Your Managers to Drive Employee Experience

Qualtrics // Experience Management

Qualtrics, the leader and creator of the experience management category, is a cloud-native software platform that empowers organizations to deliver exceptional experiences and build deep relationships with their customers and employees.

With insights from Qualtrics, organizations can identify and resolve the greatest friction points in their business, retain and engage top talent, and bring the right products and services to market. Nearly 20,000 organizations around the world use Qualtrics’ advanced AI to listen, understand, and take action. Qualtrics uses its vast universe of experience data to form the largest database of human sentiment in the world. Qualtrics is co-headquartered in Provo, Utah and Seattle.

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