Middle managers are the first line managers in an organisation. They manage a team to drive results yet have very little or no impact on company strategy and objectives. They are expected to achieve results and motivate their teams by senior management, expected by their team to support and develop them whilst also delivering on people related aspects of the job and any reporting that is required by the business.
Senior management will typically expect from middle managers that they deliver the objectives determined by the organisation even if these aren’t realistic. They’re expected to get on with the difficulties that may arise with their team whether it is interpersonal conflict or staffing problems without letting it impact on the plan and expected output. They are also typically expected to find ways to motivate their team members and retain them even in contexts where they themselves have no impact on company direction or the changes that are impacting their team such as budgets or companywide technology and processes for example.
If you run an SME, the likelihood is that you don’t have a large HR team to tackle all of the areas of HR that are essential to support your business.
Many SMEs don’t have an HR function at all; they have an office manager who does a great job juggling all of the business support tasks that you send their way. Of course, the challenge with this is not to drop a ball. Then, when SMEs grow to about 50 employees, they start investing in the function and hire an HR professional. This is usually someone who is experienced enough to be autonomous but not so senior that they’re put off by the more administrative parts of the job.
The inherent issue with the early steps of introducing an HR function within a business is that the role is extremely busy dealing with a wide disparity in people practices across the teams and having to create everything from scratch for each new activity to undertake. This leaves no time for the job holder to reflect and take a step back to look at the bigger picture. As a result, this role is often reactive and what is urgent and important takes priority over checking that every part of the function is developed to the level it should be to better serve the interests of the business and its employees.
One tool that can help taking this step back and assessing what needs doing is an HR Audit. These can be wide ranging or focus on specific areas of HR and tailored to the level of maturity of the organisation. The outcome of your audit enables you to make informed decisions as to current risks, needs and the future direction of travel for your HR function.
For a couple of years, mental health has been talked about extensively in the world of work.
ACAS reports that one in four people will experience some mental health issues at some point during their life. This means that mental health and wellbeing are making an appearance on the HR agenda and business strategy and are critical to master in modern workplaces.
Whilst working within organisations, one of the areas that I often come across is employee retention. Many companies look at it as the provision of benefits and do not engage with their staff to understand what they value or need.
It’s really important for every company to clearly define why they want to introduce a new benefit and what their goal is. Most companies look at benefits provision to decrease staff turnover or to attract talent. There are other reasons but let’s focus on these, as they are definitely the ones I’ve come across most often.
The good news is that retention doesn’t necessarily mean spending a lot of money on wonderful benefits. It often starts with understanding what your teams value and what they would like from their perspective. Some benefits don’t even involve spending any money! Indeed, flexible working and remote working are becoming increasingly popular and are two such examples.
Let’s see below how you can implement the right solutions for your teams so you get the most out the initiative.