How HR can tackle management overwhelm

HR can help counter overwhelm by eliminating drudgery and enabling managers to have greater impact, argues the international general manager of HR technology firm Lattice

Managing people is hard, and our new YouGov survey has revealed that it’s getting harder. A shocking 73% of managers are not currently getting the support they need. 

The experiences of 500 UK respondents seem to have unveiled a great overwhelm crisis. From a lack of leadership and support, to burdensome amounts of administration and difficulties managing wellbeing and work/life balance; it’s time for company leadership and HR to empower managers so that they can move from barely keeping their heads above water, to thriving.

Managers lack flexibility and support

Right now, managers are struggling to execute. Half (47%) expressed feelings of being overwhelmed. When asked if they felt leaders supported them to be effective, only 31% strongly agreed.

Read more: SME leaders facing burnout

If managers fail, the consequences reverberate around the entire business. So, let’s dig a bit deeper into the issues at the heart of 'the great overwhelm'. 

According to the survey, the top three factors impacting effectiveness are: a lack of flexibility and work/life balance (28%), ineffective communication and collaboration (25%) and poor employee engagement (23%). 

When managers are overwhelmed, everyone suffers, and businesses lose out on profitability that would have resulted from high performance. It’s time for a new approach.

Empower managers to be more effective

The great overwhelm is a warning sign that things need to change. Our survey leaves little doubt that it’s crunch time for managers in the UK, and reveals the key areas that HR and company leadership needs to address.

Read more: How HR can spot signs of burnout

The good news is that AI is playing a transformative role in augmenting manager effectiveness. First movers are equipping managers with the insights and knowledge they need to better understand individual strengths, aspirations and challenges, and guide each team member to success. AI is also unburdening managers from the high-load tasks that all too often hold them back and bog them down.

If organisations expect managers to drive impact in their performance strategy, they need to get in their corner, and they need to get the high-load tasks out of their managers’ way. For people leaders, augmenting managers with AI will be the biggest lever to accelerate growth, innovation and performance within their organisations.

It’s empowering for HR teams too, optimising the ability to drive positive change quickly and effectively for leadership, managers and employees alike, and elevating their own work, the work of managers, and the entire organisation in the process.

Four ways HR can tackle ‘the great overwhelm’

  1. If managers want better access to data and analytics, go one better and give them AI-powered engagement insights. Equip them to better make sense of data, save time, become more strategic, and deliver a more human employee experience.
  2. If managers expect better support for talent and performance management, exceed their expectations and invest in tools that seamlessly connect performance management, engagement and development. For example, goals, objectives and key results frameworks, careers paths, development plans and engagement solutions that promote a culture of continuous feedback.  
  3. If managers need and want more training, deliver a thoughtful and well-designed management development programme that strategically mitigates their biggest pain points and promotes lasting change both for their own performance and wellbeing, and that of their teams.
  4. If managers need more employee relations support, provide tools that encourage open and meaningful conversations, thereby creating better manager-employee relationships that support everyone to deliver better results. Establish regular one-on-one meetings and equip managers with training about active listening and communication skills.

It’s no longer sustainable for managers to feel overburdened and overstretched. HR and other leaders can vanquish the great overwhelm by eliminating the drudgery and augmenting managers to have greater impact.

Read more: Don’t let burnout become a business issue

As the saying goes: “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

By Stan Massueras, international general manager, Lattice