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?
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 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:
These measures can significantly improve the manager and employer relationship.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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