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How can HR help managers succeed in their role?

A lot of people are never taught how to be great managers. Fortunately, your HR team can lend a helping hand!
Published 2 Aug 2021
Updated 14 Sep 2022
7 min read
HR and a manager smiling and sitting at the table with a laptop.

Did you know that if a new manager struggles, their entire team will struggle too? According to Gallup research, managers account for at least 70% of their team’s employee engagement.

In other words, a bad manager could result in low employee engagement. As the team responsible for people strategy, HR professionals need to keep an eye on managers too, especially first-time managers.

Regardless of whether they are an experienced manager or new ones, the HR team should be on hand to help guide and transition them as they step up to their role.

If you’ve ever been promoted into a management position yourself, you’ll remember that you may have been really excited to finally receive some recognition; ready to dive headfirst into your new role, take charge and show everyone what you’re capable of!

On the other hand, you’re slightly terrified of the huge challenge you’re about to face. It is a tough job after all. You’re not sure where to start, what if you fail or disappoint your team?

There is a lot to unpack here, which is exactly why HR departments should be involved. You can help first-time managers overcome these doubts and guide them on the path to greatness.

How can we define management success?

So, what are some measures of success that HR can bolster?

As with any role in the business, managers should have clearly defined key metrics to strive for. While the exact numbers will vary from company to company, and role to role, consider identifying management KPIs in these areas:

  • Team goals – does each manager’s direct report understand what their overall goals are, and are they tracking their progress towards them? Do these goals align with the overall business objectives?
  • Performance metrics – are their team members keeping up or deviating from their daily numbers like sales units/website hits/calls answered/products delivered?
  • Recruitment – how efficient is the manager’s recruitment process? Can they easily identify a great candidate, and do they have an effective approach to securing them?
  • Team happiness – the manager/employee relationship has a significant influence on employee experience. Gauge employee job satisfaction with employee surveys.
  • Retention – what is the manager’s track record of employee turnover? What is the average length of their direct reports’ career with the company?

How can the HR department set managers up for success?

The HR department has a unique position of being based across each part of an organisation. They act as a conduit between the company’s executive function and each team member. They take care of employment administration and the employee lifecycle – but they also set the tone of a business and monitor performance.

Using HR expertise, you can help set up managers to do their best work – fostering growth and excellence across the business.

Here are some ways your HR department can set up managers to perform at their best.

1. Speak to the team first

If you are hiring a new manager, it’s important for the HR department to communicate this to the team.

Before you start to help the new manager in their new role, make sure anyone they will be managing is aware of the new organisational structure and hierarchy. Ensure they know exactly what to do if they have questions, concerns or feedback about the change.

Creating a great communication process in your workplace is vital to making this happen. Examples of this in action can be regular team meetings in the initial weeks or one-on-one meetings with the team members to check in with them about how they are feeling about the new shift in roles.

If the manager will be managing a newly created role, it’s still important to open up the floor for team members to voice any feedback or concerns. Be sure to listen to any employee complaints when they come through.

2. Set up a mentor program

Another way HR teams can offer more support to first-time managers is to set up an internal mentor scheme with other managers other than their immediate supervisor. This will help them have sounding boards to navigate the new world of management.

They can hear advice from different types of managers and ultimately find their own management style.

A mentor scheme is also particularly important if there are certain issues a manager feels they can’t discuss with their immediate supervisor for either personal or political reasons.

3. Provide ongoing leadership development

If an employee has been promoted to a manager position, they can’t keep relying on the same skills they had in their more junior role. They need to continue to learn and develop in order to really make a difference to the team.

It’s important that every employee within the business has access to training programs for professional growth. This gives them the opportunity to learn and grow their pre-existing skills or learn new skills and insights that help them in their job. This should not stop just because someone becomes a manager.

HR teams should provide developing managers access to training and development programs and mentorship so that’ll their career grows (they’ll also be more likely to stick around).

4. Clearly express the company’s values

Company values should dictate an organisation’s objectives, purpose and spirit. When they are clearly defined, they should have significant influence over your team and act as a guide to follow and rely on.

With their knowledge of company goals and their business-wide insights, HR staff are the perfect people to create and communicate a set of values – often collaborating with the CEO or founder.

HR teams should be the strongest advocates of company values, expressing them clearly to managers, old and new. HR teams can advise managers with issues in respect of the company’s values, and managers can easily pass this knowledge on to their direct reports – creating a powerful trickle-down effect.

5. Create a goal-setting framework

For any growing business – having a united framework for goal-setting is essential. Without it, there’s a risk of teams falling out of alignment, working in different directions, and away from company objectives.

Similarly to values, HR managers should be advocates and experts on how the company sets goals. HR will have insights into what the company’s key goals are for the next month, year and five years. They can act as a springboard for managers who are creating goals for their own teams.

Create a free-flowing feedback loop between the HR team and managers to ensure transparency around goal setting. HR managers should implement a formal performance framework to help managers keep track of their team’s progress.

Wondering what this could look like in action? Take a look at Employment Hero’s Objectives and Key Results functionality to see how you can keep your team aligned to reach ambitious goals.

6. Guide recruitment processes

Finding the perfect candidate for a role is more complex than most people think. From defining roles to advertising and interviewing to spotting red flags when hiring employees – it’s a tough and time-consuming task.

As people experts, HR should guide hiring managers through this process. Whether that’s from referring the best applicants to screening possible candidates and giving interviewing guidance at each step. HR managers can also manage the task of bringing other staff members into the process and oversee the feedback provided by each interviewer.

Making recruitment an entirely collaborative process between management and HR can be the difference between finding someone who’s just ok for the role and hiring your next unicorn.

Refine your processes by downloading our Ultimate Guide to Recruitment and Onboarding.

7. Teach the ‘soft skills’ of management

A lot of people in a management role are never taught how to be a great manager. In the general career progression model, talented specialists step up to management – usually by being handed more responsibilities and several direct reports.

It’s at this point that there’s often a shock for managers. It’s no longer just on their shoulders to perform in their area – they also have to excel at essential ‘soft skills’; communicating clearly with their team, managing workloads and monitoring their staff members’ wellbeing.

This generally won’t come naturally to new managers, but it’s what human resources is all about. HR can help managers move beyond being senior staff members and help them become the best leaders.

How can HR do this? With their existing knowledge, they can teach managers the best ways to communicate with their staff during performance reviews, they can advise on teamwork and leadership, and they can help managers understand an employee’s mental, professional and emotional needs.

It’s ok for managers – especially new managers – to admit that soft skills aren’t second nature to them. Training and development don’t stop being important when people reach the management level. Organise regular meetings between the HR team and managers to share knowledge in this area and decide together if any upskilling is required.

Got a performance review coming up? Download our performance review template.

8. Streamline employee management

As well as soft skills, there is a lot of administration that many people don’t consider when they start managing staff.

Processing leave requests, managing shifts, setting up learning pathways and distributing rewards and recognition. These are essential parts of managing staff, yet they can often be too time-consuming – involving a lot of repetitive paperwork.

One of the best ways that HR can help managers in performance management is to invest in digital solutions. An HRIS (Human Resources Information System) like Employment Hero can streamline these tasks and reduce human error in the process.

Employment Hero is your single source of information for your employees. Through our desktop or app, you can complete many time-consuming admin tasks instantly. Your team members are empowered to update their own information, you can view leave requests and approve them instantly, and you can shout out employee achievements to the entire company. It makes HR and management a breeze.

Human resources and management. Stronger together.

Becoming a manager is so much more than just taking a step up the career ladder. It takes a lot of additional consideration, training and assistance to be successful. HR managers play a fundamental role in creating great managers, and when the two work together seamlessly, the benefits are endless.

Want to learn more about essential HR skills? Download our Intro to HR Management to master the foundations.

Download now

Intro to HR Management

In this guide, we go back to basics and talk through everything HR beginners need to know.
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