Matrix Management / Virtual Teams

Are our managers OK?

We have put our managers under tremendous pressure over the last couple of years and 2022 will bring additional challenges – are they OK?

In 2020 they had to manage an unprecedented change in working style and to cope with the logistics of getting their people to work from home. Many had to adapt their management and leadership style for the first time to engage with people who are no longer in the same location.

Let’s not forget that managers are people too, they also had to adapt to working from home in a stressful pandemic environment.

They had all the same human stresses that everyone else had to cope with and in addition their role changed. They were now supposed to focus extra effort on promoting wellness, building social contact remotely, understanding people’s individual home circumstances and being flexible to childcare and educational needs.

This continued into 2021 with the debilitating effect of repeated lockdowns and preparing for the much promised and much delayed return to the office. They had to motivate and support their people and do the same for themselves.

As we approached 2022 with some optimism that things would start to get back to normal, the omicron virus sent many people back to working from home.

By the time we got to the end of the year many of our training participants were exhausted, we noticed that people left earlier for the holiday break and are taking longer to get going in 2022.

In Quarter One some of our clients are reporting that it’s hard to get people to enrol on training programs or to commit to decisions.

As the return to the office gets under way, we will be adding a new tranche of work to managers who will need to implement more complex working structures and coordinate the working routines of their people and their key interfaces. They will need to build the skills to work and to lead other people in a remote and hybrid environment, and master the challenges of facilitating engaging hybrid meetings.

As we can see the role of the manager has expanded tremendously into new areas over the last couple of years. There are many new topics on the agenda, but here is the kicker…

What should they stop doing to make time for all this extra work?

I don’t know of any organisation that is taking things off their management agenda to allow leaders more time to focus on these other things. All this is additional work, for people who were generally already pretty busy. It is not only the work, it is the highly ambiguous and challenging environment they are delivering it in.

In 2022 we think organisations need to revisit their leadership expectations and development. The world of work has changed and the responsibilities of leaders are evolving.

This starts with enabling managers to have a conversation about how they are feeling and coping. When the topic comes up in our workshops many mangers are surprised and relieved “I didn’t know anyone else was feeling the same.” They need time and space to think this through and define what support they need. Are really listening to what they need?

We are working on a new leadership model which we will be communicating soon, but rather than rush to solutions we are starting to engage with our clients around discussions of “are our managers OK?”

Are your managers OK? If you’d like to join the conversation or have any comments please let us know.

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