How HR Leaders Can Help To Improve Managers' Confidence in Their Employers

According to Glassdoor’s Employee Confidence Index, middle managers’ confidence in their organization’s six-month outlook fell 6.2 percentage points year-over-year as of July 2023.

This is an important trend for HR leaders to heed because it can negatively affect your organization.

Middle managers are the ones you rely on to keep employees motivated. If your managers have lost confidence in the organization, it won’t be long before employees lose trust in their employer. This can have dire consequences on employee productivity levels and staff turnover rates.  

What’s contributing to lower manager confidence levels, and what can HR leaders do to increase manager confidence?

Factors Affecting Managerial Confidence

Daniel Zhao, lead economist at Glassdoor, told HR Brew he attributes the drop in manager confidence to the increase in layoffs.

“There’s been a more drastic decrease over the last year for middle managers, and I think really this comes down to the fact that middle managers have felt the squeeze of layoffs,” Zhao said. “Middle managers are important bellwethers for how business is doing. They’re not so high up in the company that they lose their connection to frontline employees.”

It's reported that layoffs jumped by nearly 200% in 2023. With so many feet walking out the door, managers’ confidence in the stability of their organization has become shaky.

HR leaders can bolster confidence by keeping managers informed of the organization’s strategy to navigate uncertain times and providing the support they need to manage their concerns and those of their employees.

HR as the Confidence Catalyst

HR leaders often act as a bridge between employees, middle managers and executives. As such, they play a pivotal role in building a cohesive, confident workforce.

HR can encourage senior leadership to boost manager’s confidence by:

  • Including managers in strategic decisions that may affect their employees.
  • Communicating changes in the organization’s plans and goals.
  • Providing a space for managers to offer insight “from the trenches.”
  • Allowing managers more autonomy.
  • Providing support for management in the form of training programs and resources.

These measures can significantly improve the manager and employer relationship.

Three Ways HR can Provide Managerial Support

It’s not uncommon for managers to lose confidence in an organization when it is performing poorly or going through downsizing. It’s at times like these that support to management is crucial.

HR can provide managerial support by providing:

  1. Resources: This could be in the form of information, but it could also be support to cope with anxiety and stress.
  2. Training: Investing in your manager’s development can reassure managers that the organization has a future.
  3. Mentoring: A mentoring program can help managers enhance their skills and acquire new ones. The statistics show that employees who receive mentoring are five times more likely to be promoted than those who don’t. You can also flip it the other way — have your top-performing managers mentor employees, which is a great way to improve their self-worth.

Enhancing Communication Between Managers and Leadership

A breakdown in trust often occurs when communication is lacking. To prevent this, here are five ways to improve communication between managers and leadership:

1. Schedule monthly or quarterly management meetings. The aim of these meetings is for managers and senior leadership to update one another on business activities and flag any problems.

2. Conduct check-in meetings. These group or individual meetings are a “health check” to gauge managers’ well-being and address any physical, mental or organizational stressors that may affect their or their team’s productivity and engagement levels.

3. Leverage digital channels. Online groups, email newsletters and intranet systems are tools you can use to communicate announcements and organizational news or to elicit feedback from managers.

4. Maintain an open-door policy. Create an open-door culture that allows managers to approach organizational leaders anytime.

These communication strategies are also effective in improving communication between managers and their employees.

Empowering Leadership to Support Managers

A positive organizational culture always starts at the top. Leaders typically set the tone, which trickles down to the rest of the organization. If your leaders don’t display confident leadership, it’s likely mid-level management will reflect a similar lackluster attitude.

Organizational leaders can benefit from HR support, which, in turn, can help them better support managers.

Here’s how HR can support and empower leaders:

  • Provide training on how to be an inspirational leader and support mid-level management.
  • Channel positive feedback from employees to leaders. Most of the time, the focus is on leaders providing workers with positive reinforcement, but senior management also needs a pat on the back when they’re performing well. HR can encourage employees to provide positive feedback to leaders, which can be highly motivating.

Key Takeaways

Confident leaders inspire confident managers who nurture confident employees. HR plays a pivotal role in supporting all three. Managers are the link between employees and leaders. If they feel confident about the organization, they’ll be able to boost employee morale which is an important element in organizational success.

Middle managers’ confidence in their organizations has dropped. Find out why and how HR leaders can help increase manager confidence in their employers.
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CPS HR Consulting is a self-supporting public agency providing a full range of integrated HR solutions to government and nonprofit clients across the country.  Our strategic approach to increasing the effectiveness of human resources results in improved organizational performance for our clients.  We have a deep expertise and unmatched perspective in guiding our clients in the areas of organizational strategy, recruitment and selection, classification and compensation, and training and development.