How Organizations Can Empower Bosses to Be Better Managers


The agile nature of almost every experience we experience has led to the development of agile leadership and management. The term “boss” is losing currency, as it succumbs to the archaic visual of a despot micromanaging an employee’s work. While a “manager” can very well demonstrate this side, they are expected to be more agile, more independent, and more enabling of freedom in decision-making for their teams.

On World Boss’s Day, we discuss what you can do to help bosses become managers who are engaged and in turn, deliver a great employee experience for their teams.

Who is responsible for the employee experienceOpens a new window ? The organization as a whole and HR. Who is most responsible for the employee experience? Managers.

Managers are the primary touchpoint throughout the employee lifecycle, from interviewing to onboarding to the employee’s exit from the company. So to deliver a good employee experience, organizations must transition out of hiring the traditional “boss” and toward a vision that puts the manager and manager engagementOpens a new window and experience into perspective.

How Manager Experience Translates into Employee Experience

Managers need as much guidance from their leaders as do employees from their managers. The former boss who told employees what to do is no longer entertained in the workplace. Enter the new agile, independent, and friendly manager, who is transforming management as we know it. To create this manager whose experience directly translates into positive employee experience, see if you can answer these questions.

1. Do you offer the bosses at every level the technology they need to be better managers?

A recent studyOpens a new window by Oracle and research firm Future Workplace finds that employees would trust a robot over a manager. This is not a very pleasant finding because managers are meant to guide employees as they perform their jobs. And while robots and chatbots can answer employees’ basic questions, managers are needed to offer constructive feedback, listen to employees’ concerns, and help them build their own career paths.

Arming managers with performance managementOpens a new window software, for instance, can help them identify which employees are outdoing themselves or lagging, offer recognition where it is due, and set and monitor goals for their team members. This software can even help managers identify burnout when they notice their employees’ output lagging.

This can prepare them to have important, honest conversations with their team members, and transform the way they lead and the way their employees perceive them.

Learn More: How to Implement Tech Perks for an Engaged WorkforceOpens a new window

2. Have you built a workplace culture that managers can thrive in?

Managers or supervisors at every level in an organization demonstrate its culture based on the kind of leadership they answer to. While team culture is an individual effort, organizational culture seeps into the team culture. For instance, if your organization does not have a culture of transparencyOpens a new window , it is highly unlikely that managers in your organization will be able to be transparent with their teams, even if they want to be. This can create a certain amount of frustration across managers and their teams.

A recent study by Kimble ApplicationsOpens a new window , which surveyed 1,000 full-time employees across the U.S., identified that 74% of employees surveyed want to work with collaborative managers as opposed to managers who take employees’ decisions for them. The desire for agility and personal decision-making is evident in people’s need to work from home and even work independently as freelancers, for example.

Mark Robinson, co-founder of Kimble Applications, tells us in an exclusive that “The whole organization needs clarity of vision and values because without that, managers and staff will struggle to align their decisions with company goals. This is harder to do than it sounds – it’s not a question of an annual PowerPoint presentation or wall-mounted lists of aspirational personal characteristics – it’s the day-to-day job of embedding those ideas and agreeing what is meant by them. This isn’t just a job for the senior leadership, it’s a question of culture and everyone needs to contribute to that.”

A workplace culture that is transparent and allows for flexibility can help managers thrive and manage their workforce better.

Learn More: What Is Culture Analytics and How Can It Help Your Organization?Opens a new window

3. Do you find out often how your managers feel about the workplace?

Engagement surveys are as critical for managers and supervisors as they are for other employees. But organizations must refrain from administering the same survey to employees across all levels of the organization. They must be tailored to gain specific feedback from managers to identify areas of improvement. You can then use this data to plan a manager engagement strategy, just like managers do so for their team members.

4. Do you empower them with the data they need to be better leaders?

The results of employee engagement Opens a new window surveysOpens a new window can be used to coach managers on how to be better leaders, which pain points to address, and how to improve the overall employee experienceOpens a new window . With insights into the data from engagement surveys, managers can learn what their employees feel about the organization, strategize with upper management on how to improve the employee experience and implement changes in areas of concern.

Especially with a transitioning workplace where artificial intelligence is slowly becoming the mainstay, managers need to be able to manage a workforce that may fear losing their jobsOpens a new window and are generally uncertain about the future.

The Kimble Applications study mentioned above also found that all employees seek is clarity in the mission and vision of the business and its relevance to their job. 44% of employees stated that they would perform just as well without their managers’ inputs as they would with it.

Empowering managers with the data to build upon the organizational mission can help them move away from the instructional to the guided mode of leading.

5. Do you offer a culture of support for your managers?

Managers need to have the independence to allow mistakes and develop a strategy that they think will work. This comes through a culture of support from leadership, which helps to strengthen managers’ confidence and reflect this confidence in their interactions with their employees.

From Boss to Manager to Leader

Managers are the liaison between upper leadership and employees. Their experience pretty much defines what employees experience in the organization. While culture plays a very important role in delivering a good employee experience through managers, it is also important to hire for management and leadership.

The role of a boss/leader/manager is dynamic. It cannot be relegated to just one task. It involves motivating, guiding, (constructively) criticizing, and leading a team that is made capable of delivering the best outcomes. As we head into the future of workOpens a new window , the role of the manager is expected to evolve further.

Robinson says, “‘Boss’ is just everyday parlance for ‘manager,’ but it doesn’t mean all bosses are good managers! The key distinction is management versus leadership. The next generation of companies is turning more followers into leaders.”

As the traditional boss becomes the manager of the current workplace, the manager will be expected to become a leader of the future workforce. Preparing leaders of the future by arming them with the tools they need now is one of the key ways to prepare for the future of work.

What are you doing to improve the manager experience? Tell us about it on FacebookOpens a new window , LinkedInOpens a new window , or TwitterOpens a new window . We would love to hear from you.