Company managers set the tone for the behaviors of the people they manage. They lead by example and provide coaching to help employees perform. However, the pandemic has kept many managers physically separated from their teams and other leaders. As a result, some managers may have struggled to stay as connected as they once were.
These days, many interpersonal interactions are limited to phone, Zoom, Slack, and email, making it harder for managers to communicate and lead. Here are five signs your managers need to become more connected, and some actions that help:
1. Employees feel less connected to each other
A Pew Research Center survey revealed that 57 percent of people report feeling less connected to their coworkers since they began working from home. These feelings of disconnectedness can result from many factors, including managers who are struggling and need help connecting with the people they manage.
To help managers and employees who feel disconnected, equip managers with ideas and tools to help pull their team together. At Ingenuity, we’ve found that collaboration platforms, frequent one-on-ones, and team-building sessions help to encourage deeper connections within our team.
2. Manager conflicts and silos are increasing
When managers have a clash of ideas or priorities, the conflict can cascade throughout the teams they lead. And though conflict can occur at any time, remote work can sometimes make things worse. When people are physically separated, there are fewer opportunities for impromptu, in-person discussions. As a result, teams may become more siloed and disconnected than ever. In a recent McKinsey survey, executives said silos and a lack of cross-functional collaboration were the biggest barriers to getting work done quickly during the pandemic.
To break down the silos amid continued remote work, look for opportunities to bring managers together. For example, virtual offsites and leadership meetings can be effective ways to get managers on the same page. With more time to communicate with other, they have more opportunities to find creative ways to break down silos.
3. Employee engagement is falling
When managers at any level feel disconnected—from the company mission, each other, or their teams —they can become disengaged, and so can their teams. In fact, Gallup research found that the less engaged managers are, the more likely they are to have disengaged employees on their team.
Fortunately, Gallup’s research also found that engaged leaders also tended to have more engaged employees. Employee surveys and focus groups are both great ways to understand how the lack of connectedness impacts manager and employee engagement. With the results as your guide, you can develop a roadmap to build engagement among both managers and employees.
4. Execution has stalled
A lack of execution could be a sure sign that leaders at any level are not as connected to company goals as they once were. And the lack of connection may not be intentional. Perhaps managers are overwhelmed, confused about objectives and timelines, or lack the right resources and tools to execute goals.
Increasing dialogue with managers and team leaders can offer clues about the resources and support they need to boost execution. They may need additional staff, employee recognition tools, or mental health resources and flexibility to cope with burnout and stress.
5. Managers have limited interaction with peers and senior leaders
It’s easy for managers to become disconnected when they don’t have enough opportunities to interact with those who can teach and inspire them. If you suspect these kinds of interactions are too few and far between, they probably are.
To determine what makes sense for your organization, look at how often managers meet with peers and senior leaders. Offering more opportunities for them to meet and discuss shared experiences can help managers feel a stronger sense of belonging. It can also provide them with the motivation to lead their teams more effectively.
Though the pandemic has created some new obstacles to keeping managers connected, there are ways to help managers help themselves and others. With support from senior leaders, HR, and internal communications partners, you can identify new ways for managers to connect with their peers and team.