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HR leaders don’t rate managers’ ability to talk about informal issues

Posted on 17th October 2022

HR leaders lack confidence in managers’ ability to have effective conversations with employees about informal issues, says a new study.

The OpenBlend study, which interviewed 20 senior HR leaders in depth, found they had “medium” confidence in managers’ ability to discuss formal issues like development and objective setting, but confidence was significantly lower when it came to informal topics like flexible working and employee wellbeing.

Manager confidence linked to organisational performance

The study showed that businesses with high confidence in managers’ ability to discuss informal issues were more likely to have high organisational performance.

The research also found that seven essential elements every employee needs to do their best work–both the traditional process-driven dimensions that managers are already good at discussing, and the softer, more human-focused dimensions.

  1. My Delivery Expectation – clear expectations and realistic deliverables
  2. My Self – an employer that cares about the employee’s wellbeing and enables them to bring their authentic self to work
  3. My Interaction with Work – a flexible working pattern tailored to their individual circumstances and schedule
  4. My Manager – regular coaching and feedback, and feeling that the manager cares about them
  5. My Purpose – understanding how their work supports the organisation’s vision, purpose, and objectives
  6. My Development – access to relevant training, development, and career advice
  7. My Tools – the right technology to support their work

The research found that all seven of these factors depend on the manager’s ability to support them. This creates a new scientific formula for employee performance: PE = 7D x M (performance enablement = seven dimensions x manager).

In other words, managers who fall down on the softer dimensions are limiting the performance of their direct reports, and ultimately of the organisation. The findings show managers need more guidance on broaching and discussing the informal issues that increasingly affect employee performance in today’s workplace.