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Revisiting line manager communication. What has changed?

Over a year ago, I wrote about the value of engaging line managers to enhance employee experience.  Among the issues plaguing organizational effectiveness were the lack of line manager communication, their inability to be engaged and to inspire staff and dwindling trust between employees and employers. Furthermore, staff believed line managers were the most stressful part of their jobs. 

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ (CIPR) Inside Group’s recent report throws light on how line managers continue to lag on communication, amplifying the need for organizations to invest a lot more on training and measuring communication effectiveness among managers and leaders. 

Among the themes that emerge from the report are a lack of accountability, insufficient collaboration between internal communicators and HR professionals and how we can do more to involve line managers for organizational success. 

Post pandemic, a lot has changed impacting line managers.  

How can internal communicators make the most of this challenge and opportunity?  

  • recent study by Qualtrics among 14000 employees in 27 nations indicates that employees are demanding change and now. Although manager effectiveness/trust in leadership has gone up in 2022 (67%) from 63% in 2021, the intent to stay has dropped from last year (65% in 2022 from 70% in 2021). Therefore, the need to focus on investing in emotional competencies among managers. High growth organizations are investing in employees and societal needs including key decision making. 
  • The 2022 European Communication Monitor highlights communication leaders who outperform others are those who are empathetic, care about well-being, listens acknowledge and appreciate the moods, feelings and voice of staff. Driving staff back to the workforce can end up being counterproductive.  
  • Understanding what staff want is crucial for organizations and managers are the one who can gauge this upfront. Workers expect the hybrid workplace to also bring in flexibility, open and authentic communication, support to adapt to the changing environment and technology that allows for improved collaboration.  Being treated as ‘humans’ matters. 
  • With hybrid and remote work making IT infrastructure and employee communication applications and platforms more relevant than before, it isn’t just internal communicators and Human Resources who need to collaborate; IT needs to be a key stakeholder in the conversation. Reframe and reconstitute what channels and platforms mean for staff so that line managers can refer to single sources of truth. With distractions and other concerns working remotely, the role of line managers is to create an environment of engagement, trust and collaboration.  
  • Organizations that invest in diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging are more likely to be perceived as an employer of choice. With a rise in inequality perceptions at the workplace as well as burnout and well-being concerns increasing among staff, managers need training to be able to represent these valuable aspects to their teams. 
  • By automating manager tasks, it can free up capacity for the group to spend quality time with staff. Likewise, coaching managers on communication practices and effectiveness is crucial for building an organization of repute. A recent study indicates that leaders are 9X times more likely to be castigated for under-communicating than overcommunicating.  

It isn’t easy being a line manager in these times of change and complexity. As organizations struggle to attract and differentiate in the talent marketplace, the importance of line manager communication is growing. Effective communication is everyone’s responsibility in the team – more so for the manager. When and how often to meet, where and how to engage, the kind of channels that work best for all and what makes communication inclusive are key decisions for managers to make. Those organizations that invest in their managers and leaders to become adept at communicating will succeed in the future. 

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Have other ideas? Interested to know what you think. 

Keen to participate in the ongoing series on Personal BrandingCrisis CommunicationsInternal Communications or CSR Communications? Drop me a note at [email protected] 

Here are Internal Communications resources you can use:  

·       Learn: Internal Communications Fundamentals Course on Thinkific  

·       Internal Communications Series: https://forms.gle/KcqmPzLwq7NQi5Km6 

·       Internal Communications workshops: https://bit.ly/2zdBRl1  

You can also visit my website www.intraskope.com and You Tube channel to know more about my work. 

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