The role of a manager can be challenging at the best of times. The global pandemic has not only changed the way we work, the way we engage with our colleagues, and the way businesses are operating, but it has also increased the pressure on managers and leaders to drive success, to support their teams, and to ensure productivity is maintained. Could showing more vulnerability and being more open about the challenges that managers are facing be the best way forward? 

This was one of the topics discussed at our recent virtual event, ‘Adapting is thriving in a post-pandemic world’, we were joined by leading thinkers on the future of work - Matthew Taylor, UK Government Advisor and Chief Executive of the RSA, and Professor Jonathan Trevor from Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. In his presentation, Matthew highlighted that he expects to see very high attrition rates among leaders in the next few months. The hard work that has been put in this year has taken a toll on professionals at all levels, but perhaps the level of support available to managers and leaders has not quite been as high of a focus as it should.  

You can view the event on demand, by registering for access at the bottom of the page; meanwhile, here are some of the key points covered on the importance of ensuring managers and leaders are supported in a crisis. 

What is the challenge for managers and leaders? 

“One of the big problems we have in Britain, and for our economy, is the quality of management. We have hundreds of thousands of ‘accidental managers’ - people who ended up managing people but never got any training for it. We have far too many leaders who do not get any coaching or any support. I'm a chief executive and I have found the last few months incredibly difficult and taxing in all kinds of ways.”

Matthew Taylor 

In this virtual, high-pressure environment, burnout is a real risk to all professionals. At times of crisis, managers will often absorb much of the pressure their teams are feeling and add it to their own. Recognising this and having the space to share this strain is crucial. At the end of the day, leaders cannot effectively support and guide others if they are not supported to do the same for themselves. 

Wellbeing is an issue for managers and leaders too 

“We need to support managers and leaders, and we need to recognise that they are exhausted, they are stressed out, and things are difficult for them as well.”

Matthew Taylor 

It is important to ensure that leaders and managers have the space to talk about how they feel and to get the support they need. Matthew reminded us that this is important because the challenges we are facing today are not going away any time soon, and the impacts of the global pandemic will be felt across the world of work for a long time. 

In a recent Michael Page social poll, it was found that 72% of workers had taken less than 25% of their annual leave allocation in July 2020. While this is important information for managers to know, this a snapshot of professionals at all levels, including leaders. Managers need to lead by example, and ensuring that they are taking time off is fundamental to managing overall wellbeing. 

Leaders need to express their vulnerability 

“You do not want people making decisions that affect other people, if they are exhausted, stressed out, and unable to share how difficult things are for them.”

Matthew Taylor

During his presentation, Matthew said that because many of our leaders are experiencing burnout, with limited support to ease their stresses, it will force them to reconsider their priorities. In fact, 70% of professionals are reassessing their career options and priorities in response to the global pandemic.

In summary, businesses need to better support their managers or risk losing them. However, effectively supporting leaders is not just about offering support, the message must be clear. Matthew highlighted that we need to be direct and say to our leaders:

  • You need to take support. 
  • We do not want you doing your job if you are exhausted and stressed out.
  • You cannot work through the next few months of uncertainty with this split-screen mindset if you are not managing your wellbeing. 

“Engage, support managers, and stick with your values and those purpose statements - if you do all of that, then we could come out of this stronger and we'll certainly come out of this wiser.”

If you would like to hear more from our experts, you can watch our ‘Adapting is thriving in a post-pandemic world’ virtual event on demand, by registering for access below:

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