The Forgotten Team Leader?

This week’s blog is written by co-founder of Parent & Professional, Helen Letchfield.

I was glancing through recent news and articles to help guide employees through the current situation and came across a huge selection of helpful articles, such as:

‘How to effectively manage your remote team’

‘How to motivate your team through change’

‘How to support your team’s mental health’

‘How to prepare for cost-cutting, redundancies and furloughing’

The current pressures facing middle managers are countless and immense – from coping with technology, flexibility, motivation, productivity, cost-cutting to managing mental health.  Even before Covid-19, HR Dive found in December 2019 that 68% of managers reported that their top challenge was juggling people management with other responsibilities…

So, if managers have to grapple with all of the above, in additional to current workload, ‘who is helping the managers?’

During a coaching session with one manager recently, we discussed the challenge of how managers themselves are struggling with their own mental health and isolation.  Managers in addition need to work at a strategic level, focussing on the big picture and bouncing ideas of each other regularly and informally.  Getting motivated to do this is all but impossible whilst sitting in your box room or at your kitchen table surrounded by your family members – and this can greatly affect both their mental health and their ability to continuously inspire performance.

The long and short of it is that our managers are also struggling and perhaps even more so as they are trying to hold it together for their team and may well not be receiving the individual support and understanding from senior management.  They may also be struggling in silence, fearing they will be negatively judged if they look like they are not coping.

What can HR and the Senior Management Team do to help?

I was heartened last week when my colleague sent me a photo of a gift box her husband’s manager had sent him, containing a bag of sweets, a motivational postcard, a box of uplifting tea bags ‘Happy’ and Gretchen Ruben’s book ‘Happier at Home’ – with a personalised message of thanks and gratitude.

If this approach isn’t going to work for your senior managers to replicate with their own team leaders, how about working with them to send an email or card expressing their gratitude for strong leadership skills during this exceptionally challenging time?

Or, perhaps HR could prepare a development support package for managers, outlining all the internal help/training/coaching/mentoring or EAP that is available?

Managers and team leaders are our unsung heroes and without them many ships would sink.  Even one short message of gratitude will go a long way to ensure talented managers are not forgotten about.

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