Proactive HR Problem People Managers

People Managers Need Help

People Managers Need Help

February 07, 2023
Only 1 in 10 people managers are naturally any good at managing a team. Read more to understand why and how helping them can really boost business productivity!

These managers have many responsibilites:
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Get their teams productive (and keep them productive)
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Improve and maintain morale and engagement levels
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Ensure the transactions of management are done (absence, sickness, performance management etc.)
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Communicate and reinforce the company messages and strategies set by the leadership team
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Coach and develop their team according to personal and business goals
Most managers will also have a job to do themselves aside from managing their team. Not to mention own their development plans and be an effective team player for their manager.
Being a highly effective manager is not an easy task that’s for sure, it requires a set of skills that often need to be learned, as few people are “born” exceptional people managers.
The path to management
If you think about the 10-15%, how did most of them end up as managers? Typically, a managerial position represents a progression within a business, moving up means managing people. Often those employees that are promoted into managerial roles are the high performers in a business. Those that do a great job and perform excellently in their role. They are great individual contributors, star players even.
Then they are given other people to manage.
Naturally, they all take to management like a duck to water, instinctively knowing how best to manage their new team and the different personalities and people challenges that present themselves each day. They instinctively know “how” to manage too – where to access information, how to run a talent review, how to manage poor performance, how to recruit…
And they love every minute of it, don’t they?
Of course not! Back to the real world for a moment. We all know that this isn’t true. Many managers struggle. They struggle to effectively manage their time and workload alongside their team responsibilities. They struggle to make the leap from driving their own performance to delivering performance through others. They also struggle to keep up to date with the expectations of them from an HR perspective.
But that’s okay, because as standard every organisation invests heavily into training, upskilling, coaching and developing their new managers to help them become excellent leaders. And then invests equally in continuing to support and coach their existing managers throughout their careers...
Don’t they?

People as managers

Managers account for a 70% variance in Employee Engagement (source: Gallup)
Research in the US by Gallup suggests that approximately 1 in 10 people are capable of being an excellent manager – capable of driving success through their team for the greater good of their organisation.
1 in 10!
1 in 10 people
That means potentially 90% of the line managers currently within your organisation aren’t very good at what they are expected to do. They don’t naturally think about engaging their teams, coaching them for success, wanting to build and maintain a positive working culture.
The result? Their team performance will likely be sub-optimal, to say the least. They will struggle to retain top talent and will be facing low engagement levels within their teams.
What a huge area for improvement.
If 90% of your organisation is being led by ineffective managers, how much potential is there for improved business performance, customer satisfaction and increased talent retention?

Some easy improvements

If you can only really count on 10% of your current managerial workforce to be doing the right things and motivated to drive their teams to succeed, then it should be a priority to focus some attention on the 90% that clearly need support.
As an HR leader, what can you be doing to help improve this organisational problem and consequentially help radically improve employee engagement and business performance?
1 – Onboarding
This isn’t a thing just for new hires externally. What about your internal promotions? What support is given to colleagues that are new to people management? What mix of mentoring, buddy systems, formal/online training is available immediately upon a new manager starting work? How do you mix the three “E’s” for greatest impact? (Exposure, Experience and Education).
2 – Consistently “on” support
What networks are available for managers to seek out and find support for various managerial issues/challenges? Do you have any online communities? A Yammer group? Slack channel? Informal meetups? Brown bag lunches?
Mentoring is great for new managers, but what about existing managers? Different perspectives help people see things differently and improve their style and capability.
Many companies have an intranet full of useful resources. But they are buried deep within a digital filing cabinet that is gathering dust. Do your managers even know what is available now to help them? How do you tell them? When? How often do you remind them?
3 – Coaching through the moments that matter
Linked to the above, if you have an intranet with HR pages bursting with guides, policies and reference materials, go and check the visitor stats. How many page views have there been in the last 6 months? Have there been any spikes? If so why? Was it linked to the launch of the biannual performance review process? What behaviour can you learn from the data to give you an idea of when your managers need information, and what information they need?
When are the peaks in inbound enquiries to the first line HR support team? For what reasons? These are all signals about managers lacking capability and/or having low confidence. Or maybe just holes in knowledge across your business.
They are muffled cries for help.
Would it not be better to get on the front foot and think about what material would be useful to managers, and at what point?
Do you run a talent assessment process? Great – share relevant “how-to” guides directly with responsible managers when they need to read them.
Are you aware of managers that need to recruit? Great – drip feed content to them at the most appropriate time to help guide and coach them through the recruiting process.
These 3 simple solutions are not rocket science. They should be done as standard already. They don’t take much investment, but if in place will elicit huge returns in productivity.


Your people manager community are instrumental to your organisation staying in business. As it stands you are probably leaving them to their own devices to “learn” how to manage people any number of ways – many of which will be ineffective and will be leading to employee engagement problems.
View your managers as a vital business asset and invest in their support and development and you will reap many organisational benefits, including:
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Higher employee engagement rates
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Higher business productivity / output
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Higher retention, particularly Talent retention
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Lower external recruiting costs
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Better customer satisfaction and loyalty (a consequence of a happier workforce)
Brought to you by Foresight, a business that works with HR leaders to automate the exchange of information between HR and business managers, furnishing their teams with high-quality data points about real people challenges in their business; then nudging managers to act in a way HR need them to, to drive better business performance.

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