4 Key Insights About Managers That Can Help Lift Your Team

March 16, 2021

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In every department, managers are the bridge between individual employees and the organization’s overarching goals. But over the past year, those bridges have had to bear more weight than usual. 

For managers leading recruiting teams, 2020 forced sudden, radical changes in the hiring process, which combined with major shifts in demand — be it sharp hiring spikes or uncertainty-driven pauses. At the same time, managers had to support their teams’ emotional well-being at a time of heightened stress, anxiety, and, in many cases, personal tragedy. 

It’s been an immensely difficult 12 months. Now, as companies look toward recovery, recruiting and business leaders may be considering what they can do to better support their recruiting managers, so they can ensure their teams thrive.

The State of the Manager 2021 report can help. Bringing together insights from 3.4 million employee engagement surveys conducted through Glint, along with LinkedIn behavioral and survey data and interviews with experts, the report explores the critical role managers play and what companies can do to foster their success. 

To help you empower your recruiting managers, here are a few key insights from the report.

1. Manager burnout is on the rise — increasing 78% during 2020

Following a year of unprecedented challenges, many managers are experiencing or are at risk of burnout. In fact, between Q1 and Q4 of 2020, manager burnout increased 78%.

The biggest factor influencing this is the amount of work on managers’ plates, with 40% reporting that their workload is overwhelming. And the new way of working is also having an impact: 37% say they feel disconnected from colleagues, and 34% have faced conflicts between work and home demands. With the boundaries between managers’ professional and personal lives disappearing, unhealthy work habits are becoming more common. Between February and August 2020, the number of Microsoft Teams chat messages sent outside of working hours rose 69%, with twice as many users as previously sending after-hours messages. 

On top of all this, 30% of managers say their job responsibilities are unclear — a stressor that may have been caused by the many changes that 2020 fueled, some of which organizations are still grappling with.

The good news is that many managers are taking steps to combat burnout. The number who watched the LinkedIn Learning course Managing Stress for Positive Change grew seven times from 2019 to 2020. 

But the burden for preventing burnout can’t fall solely on managers’ shoulders, and companies need to do more to help managers understand what they’re responsible for, offload unmanageable tasks, and establish healthier boundaries between work and home life. Doing so not only benefits managers but elevates their teams, who reap rewards from having more of their managers’ attention and from seeing their managers act as models for work-life balance.

Stacia Sherman Garr, cofounder and principal analyst at human capital research and advisory firm RedThread Research, has an additional piece of advice: Find out if managers are happy in their role — and if they’re not, help them transition.

“2020 provided clarity for many people managers on whether they’re in the right job,” Stacia says. “Organizations can respect those realizations by normalizing an off-ramp for people managers. It’s not always about building manager capability. Sometimes, it’s about helping managers find new roles that don’t include people management.”

2. Managers are significantly more motivated by challenge, trust, and relationships than by praise

While one in four managers say they get little or no acknowledgment of good work, praise is not their biggest motivator, with only 6% ranking public recognition as an important motivator for doing their best work. 

The report found that managers are significantly more likely to find motivation from doing challenging work that matches their skills (41%) and feeling trusted to make work-related decisions. Building positive relationships with colleagues is also important to them, with 16% saying this is a motivator.

To help your recruiting managers find motivation and fulfillment in their work, provide ongoing feedback that offers opportunities for personal growth. This can’t just come from above: The most meaningful feedback will come from all directions, including their peers and direct reports. Pairing this with opportunities to learn and expand their skills can help managers stretch themselves in ways that feel exciting — making them 3.4 times more likely to be engaged and 3.2 times more likely to say they’ll probably be with the company in two years’ time. 

Giving your recruiting managers the power to act and trusting that they will do so in the company’s best interest can also boost engagement, with those who feel empowered to make decisions at work being three times more likely to be engaged than those who don’t. One way to do this is to help recruiting managers become talent advisors, encouraging them to collaborate across the organization and use data to drive their own decisions and make strategic recommendations. 

3. The vast majority (91%) of employees really want their manager to encourage learning

Learning and development opportunities are not only important for recruiting managers, they’re becoming increasingly important for their teams. Employees who see good opportunities to learn and grow are 2.9 times more likely to be engaged than those who don’t, and 91% of employees say it’s very or extremely important for their manager to encourage learning and experimentation. What’s more, 84% of managers feel this can help close skills gaps on their teams. 

Equipping recruiting managers with relevant, customizable resources they can use to support employees’ growth and development can help them foster a culture of continuous learning within their team. This is especially important for recruiting teams as new technology comes to the forefront and the hiring process and business needs evolve. 

Talent professionals recognize this need. Last year’s edition of The Future of Recruiting report found that the fastest-growing skills for recruiters in 2020 were personal development, diversity and inclusion, talent pipelining, decision-making, and HR strategy — and recruiters ranked adaptability the No. 1 recruiter skill for 2021. Recruiting managers can help their teams adapt to the changing hiring landscape, but only if they have the right tools.

  • Fastest growing skills for recruiters in 2020  Personal Development: +44% Diversity & Inclusion: +42% Talent Pipelining: +37% Decision-Making: +34% HR Strategy: +30%  *Insights from LinkedIn

4. When managers foster a sense of belonging, team members are five times more likely to be engaged

Conversations around diversity and inclusion are often focused on what recruiting teams can do to attract and hire more underrepresented talent. But to be successful in this task, recruiting teams themselves need to embrace diversity of perspective if they want to truly understand the needs of the communities they’re hiring from. 

That requires recruiting managers to build teams where people from all backgrounds can feel a sense of belonging, with 94% of employees saying that it’s very or extremely important for their manager to help team members feel that they belong. To do that, they first need to recognize the vital role they play in setting the tone for their whole team. 

“Managers play a — if not the — crucial role in shaping their team members’ employee experience,” says Annette Mahaffey, VP of talent and culture at Bureau Veritas Group. “They exemplify and role-model a company’s culture at every touchpoint along the employee journey.”

When this understanding informs every action they take, recruiting managers can take a more intentional approach to fostering belonging in their team. This pays off in the form of stronger, more engaged teams, with employees who feel a sense of belonging being 5.2 times more likely to be engaged than those who don’t. 

Final thoughts

Your recruiting managers are a gateway to your organization, steering the actions that bring new talent in. When they feel supported, empowered, and equipped to do their best work, their entire team — and your company as a whole — will benefit. 

For more insights into how you can help your recruiting managers succeed, download the State of the Manager 2021 report.

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