How to empower line managers to tackle the new world of work
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In a hyper-connected work environment with employee demands for greater flexibility, autonomy, personalization , and meaning in the work, people management is going to be a critical business challenge. It is up to HR and business leaders to make sure that employees are learning and feel empowered.
From Employment to Empowerment
Engaging employees in a complex talent landscape is not easy. But by building the right foundation, organizations can help people succeed. This means fostering the right employer-employee relationship. HR as the custodian of the business needs to harness people-potential of the organization by cultivating the right culture and values.
According to studies, the building blocks of the new people-empowerment model will include:
• Autonomy: Employees are demanding and expecting autonomy over their task, time, team and techniques.
• Mastery: Employees want to become better at what matters to them. HR must support them through upskilling and the right opportunities.
• A sense of purpose: Being associated with a greater cause inspires employees. A survey by EY states that among employees who are motivated by purpose, 77 % believe that their work makes an impact and 68% experience meaningful relationships at work.
HR must step up to the role of becoming a change-agent by making sure that the above attributes are reflected in their talent processes. They must work closely with the line managers, understanding the business needs and aligning processes.
HRBPs and line managers
HR must support line managers in executing their talent responsibilities by articulating the “why” and “how” of everyday processes. They must equip line managers with process-knowledge, resources, and tools. Here is a checklist for HR managers to make this happen:
a. Define and drive the right behaviors: Line managers are often busy trying to achieve business goals, and they could overlook the underlying people-behaviors that help achieve goals.
According to research on the future of work, innovation is going to be defined by clusters of teams working together, not by high potential employees alone. HR should work with the business to ensure that there is an environment of trust and collaboration.
b. Build effective workflows and structure: HR must work with line managers to identify critical roles and to keep an eye on talent trends in the marketplace. They must also collectively work towards making organizational structures lean, and agile.
Designing career paths, identifying best talent fit for the role, and meeting employee aspirations in the context of changing the business environment will be critical.
c. Create “learning drivers”: Skilling and re-skilling will be a central feature of the future of work. Both HR and line managers must work collaboratively to ensure that learning is on top of the agenda. This would require HR to support managers with real-time updates, seamless access to learning resources and in defining learning outcomes.
d. Encourage collaboration through technology: Understanding how technology can help foster a better workplace will be important to get work done. Both HR and the line managers must spend the time to reflect on social communication challenges, mobile workflows, and tools that enable ‘anytime, anywhere messaging’.
e. Coach and counsel: HR must serve as coach and counselor on all people-matters, experts whom line managers can turn to for current and future talent needs. HR having a strong business-understanding and building a business-connect will define the success of the partnership with line managers.
Empowering line managers comes from enabling them to manage change. HR and business leaders must come together and build processes as well as leverage the human-touch to anticipate, acknowledge, analyze and address change-imperatives in the new world of work.