Local employers urged to upskill managers to better support workers with conflict, wellbeing and progression

Date published: 19 April 2021

Three leading organisations - with a shared purpose of driving good and fair work opportunities in Greater Manchester - have collaborated to produce a new guide full of insight and resources to upskill line managers and support an increasingly diverse and remote workforce.

According to the guide, only 40% of line managers receive any people management training and ‘management style’ is a main cause of work‐related stress for many.

Soft skills in hard times: why good people management matters more than ever’ - developed by the CIPD, Greater Manchester Employment Charter and ACAS - highlights the skills and behaviours managers must develop to engage staff in productive work, support their health and wellbeing, as well as encourage learning and development and an inclusive workplace culture, where conflict is resolved quickly and compassionately.

According to the guide, five key behaviours that all good line managers must look to adopt are: ‘be open, fair and consistent’; ‘handle conflict and problems’; ‘provide knowledge, clarity and guidance’; ‘build and sustain relationships’; and ‘support development’.

To help with this, the collaborative piece provides a range of recommendations and useful resources for line managers to improve in these key areas and create a work environment where employees are happy, motivated and able to achieve their full potential with equal opportunities.

Daphne Doody-Green, Head of CIPD Northern England, said: “Our research shows that too few employers train their line managers to support and manage their staff effectively, and this is having a detrimental effect on the mental health of workers.”

She added: “As a result of the pandemic, managers are facing an ever more critical role in not only ensuring workers make the transition to more home and hybrid ways of working, but also that workers are happy, motivated and engaged.

"We’re delighted to have worked on this collaborative paper to support and prepare managers for any challenges ahead, by improving their people management skills to manage and support employees effectively.”

According to the guide, three quick ways to help improve people management in any business are:

1. Support the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter – an assessment scheme (backed by Mayor Andy Burnham) developed to help businesses raise their employment standards and connect with other employers and managers to share best practice.

2. Access a wide range of free resources: The CIPD – the professional body for HR and people management – offer free guides and training on everything from how to make hybrid and flexible working a success, to how to support employee engagement and wellbeing.

Meanwhile, ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service provide free and impartial advice to employers and employees on issues such as employment rights and workplace disputes.

3. Establish a safe environment that encourages managers to speak up – this will help create an open culture where staff are able to share any new ideas for ways of working and be confident in dealing with that any problems or issues that arise.

Furthermore, the guide highlights the importance of line managers understanding and adhering to the right workplace policies and procedures to support workers with flexible working options and employee wellbeing, as the shift to more home and hybrid working looks set to continue post pandemic.

Ian MacArthur, Head of the Greater Manchester Employment Charter, said: “Adapting to the new way of working has been a challenge for many. Investing in good people management is increasing in importance, especially whilst managing a dispersed workforce. In partnership with ACAS and CIPD, this paper explores ways employers can tackle this key issue moving forward.”

The impact of low performing managers

The guide offers Greater Manchester employers valuable insight in to the impact of low-performing managers on a business too, with 51% of employees - with low-ranking managers - over three times more likely to report that their work has a negative effect on their mental health.

Terry Duffy, ACAS North West Area Director, said: “It can take a lot of courage for someone to admit that they are suffering from poor mental health or speak up if they have some sort of conflict at work, and sadly there are very mixed and disappointing results on the ability of organisations to deal compassionately and effectively with such issues.

“We’re delighted that this collaborative resource will help line managers prepare for, and tackle, such problems by ensuring they have an open, fair and consistent approach and the ability to have compassionate conversations with their staff.”

Download a free copy of ‘Soft skills in hard times: why good people management matters more than ever’ from: www.gmgoodemploymentcharter.co.uk

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