Do your managers lack confidence when talking to employees?

Research has revealed that only 10% of managers are confident in their ability to talk to employees about informal issues such as well being and flexible working.

These findings are indicative of a growing misalignment between employee needs and manager capabilities. In the wake of a prolonged pandemic, and as employees now grapple with increased cost of living, it’s fair to say that the manager’s role has evolved more in the past two years than it had in the previous twenty.

 So how can you help managers navigate these informal but all-important conversations?

The first step lies in creating the right mindset, one in which managers view their role as that of a coach whose aim is to help their employees thrive. Rather than managing people, the emphasis is on enabling employees by providing them with the support and tools they need to reach their full potential at work.

But managers can only do this if they know their people and understand the challenges that any one individual is dealing with.  It is through informal, one on one conversations that managers are able to source crucial information.

To put this into context, a manager who actively builds these one to one conversations into their employee relationships is far more likely to recognise when an employee is struggling with their mental health. They should not just think of themselves as managers of people!

Knowledge enables the manager to offer timely support and, on a practical level, ensure the employee is assigned an appropriate workload during any period that requires sensitive handling.

The main driver here is that while informal conversations may sit in direct contrast to the process driven conversations that many managers are more comfortable with, they nevertheless sit at the heart of enabling people in the new world of work

Support soft skills development

However, simply making managers aware of the importance of informal conversations isn’t going to turn the prospective gains into a tangible reality for employees.

The truth is, good managers already understand the value of these one on one conversations. The issue is rather that the vast majority are less confident in tackling these conversations because they’re not equipped with the right training and tools.

121 HR Solutions is running Managing Difficult Conversations during December – contact us at for further information.

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