Internally, who should your company work for best?

Depending on who you ask and how, answers will vary dramatically.

This concept has been the driving force behind our recent conversations with global workforce brands. Many modern leaders and executives with large teams have emphasized building a company culture that supports its newest employees. Those with smaller teams have generally focused on the C-Suite, prioritizing sales and company missions.

Managers who have been in the workforce longer tended to emphasize a focus on the top performers at their level or higher. They highlighted people who stuck around and succeeded during times of significant change.

Middle managers, long the target of scorn, were often left out of these workforce management thoughts. That’s unfortunate because they may have a more significant role in employee experience than in decades past. This change is due to how the remote revolution changed team communication and how companies build culture.

These managers could be a boon for improving the digital employee experience and workforce management, or they might be your most significant concern.

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The RTO hiccup

One of the biggest challenges in supporting new and mid-career managers is training. They learned how to be leaders and support teams in specific environments, many of which could have done better during the transition from in-office to remote work.

Because they struggled with the change and had little support in terms of training, many managers have looked to the return to office as a way to rest back control. It gives them peace of mind by removing discomfort and a perceived inability to manage.

One leader told us: “With RTO mandates now promoted en masse, managers think they can regulate their workforce more efficiently. That’s because they will all be under the same roof and working the same schedule. The work-from-home shift came with a lot of flexibility that managers not well-versed in similar management styles could not keep up.”

The issue with this approach is that it reinforces the manager’s control at their teams’ expense. The remote shift taught us all how valuable flexibility is and how it is now a top request for any new employee.

Middle managers were pushed into a way of working they were unsure about. Now, they can force a return to ways they find more comfortable. The risk is when this isn’t comfortable for teams, and it harms trust and relationships. A lack of training puts managers at a disadvantage in their ability to lead and increases the likelihood of turnover for top performers.

The lack of control and the potential churn of talent are substantial threats to managers’ levels of engagement, performance, and comfort at work.

Training as a reliable way forward

Let’s zoom out on this issue and think about how companies can work best for different groups. Managers, especially those new with small teams, will not be the target for aligning work and effort. They can, however, be the driving force for change and support that ensures a company’s work gets done.

“Managers should prioritize retaining top talent and fostering continuous growth within the organization, leading to exceptional business outcomes. Key factors contributing to this include career development, skill enhancement, and building a sense of community,” says Omer Usanmaz, co-founder of Qooper.

“Implementing mentorship programs can be a highly effective solution, helping employees set clear career goals, interact with different team members, gain visibility across departments, and develop necessary skills. The benefits for the company are significant – employees with growth-oriented goals tend to be more motivated and excited, leading to improved performance and, ultimately, stronger employee retention. This, in turn, positively impacts the company’s bottom line, making it a top priority for those managing a workforce.”

Don’t leave managers out of those training and mentorship programs. Your entire team needs to learn how to help make remote succeed. Give them specific tools to prevent mid-management from feeling disenfranchised due to the changes in work.

Middle managers still have a major role, whether you’re remote, hybrid, or on-site. They’re your first line for checking in on employees, crafting career paths, offering support, and uncovering the important information that keeps teams moving forward. These managers are how companies continue to thrive, defining what’s next and ensuring team members know how to contribute.

Category: Management