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3 Things Managers Struggle with the Most in 2021

By Paulina Carbonaro

Managing employees is challenging under normal circumstances but throw in a worldwide pandemic with a sudden shift to remote work, and the job became even harder.

Last year’s events added “counsellor” and “therapist” to the list of many hats that managers wear. Remote work, lockdowns, economic uncertainty – they all presented unique challenges for employees, at times testing their commitment and affecting mental health. Leaders had to step up and help their teams navigate through this.

Here are the top 3 things that managers are still struggling with in 2021:

#1 Understanding employee sentiment and state of mind

Workers identified well-being in the top three objectives for work transformation in a recent study by Deloitte for a good reason: employee happiness results in increased creativity and engagement according to widespread research. And leaders at all levels are expected to champion and monitor well-being within organizations.

But is it as simple as asking “how are you doing” on a regular basis? It helps to ask, but not everyone is forthcoming about their feelings, especially with an authority figure. Many managers find themselves in the dark about how their employees are really feeling about their job until it’s too late.

Tools like customized sentiment surveys can help managers. They provide a safe, anonymous method for disclosing feelings and equip the manager with valuable insights about their team. Based on this information they can act accordingly whether it is to encourage time-off, provide resources and support, or adjust workload expectations.

#2 Avoiding manager burnout

Leaders are not immune to burnout and the events of 2020 have only exacerbated it with 60% reporting that they feel “used up” at the end of the day. While the way we work may have changed in response to the pandemic, the expectation to meet goals and targets hasn’t, necessarily. Managers must still drive productivity and high performance but have had to do so under more strain, often without added support.

There isn’t one single solution to avoiding manager burnout. However, if the root cause is misalignment from the team, diverging priorities, or productivity challenges, a goal setting and goal tracking tool might help. It gives managers a bird’s eye view of their department’s projects and progress made towards them. For some, this alleviates the stress associated with not having visibility into and control over what their team members are working on and helps everyone stay on track, working towards common goals.

#3 Keeping employees engaged and motivated

As many businesses went remote, managers had to find creative ways to keep their teams committed to the work. Being in an office together, brainstorming ideas, camaraderie – all these things have been the building blocks of employee engagement for decades. They were suddenly replaced with video calls and chat platforms leaving many employees feeling isolated, disconnected, and unenthusiastic about their work.

Constant check-ins and more frequent 1-on-1s are necessary to motivating teams in a remote setting. As such, company leaders have had to embrace over-communication to maintain a culture of recognition, appreciation, and empathy.

But if you’re managing a large team, making sure to connect with everyone frequently and giving praise where needed, could be hard to maintain. Team management platforms that use data analytics to trigger manager actions are a great solution. They can provide vital reminders to communicate with team members that need it the most.

With the reopening of many cities across North America in 2021, things are looking up for employment in general, but the world of work continues to change, and managers will have to support their teams in whole new ways. Which is why having the right tools to do this is more important than ever.

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