Too Little Training and Too Much Admin is Hurting Your Managers

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May 16, 2018
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

From deploying complex technology tools to streamlining communication, today’s organizations are doing everything in their power to increase efficiency. But a new survey found that one of the most overlooked areas of inefficiency isn’t a lone process or product; it’s an organization’s managers.

To better identify today’s managers’ biggest inefficiencies and pain points, business and technology consulting firm West Monroe surveyed 500 U.S. managers. Overall, our firm found management is more complicated than executives might think. In fact, managing people ranked the second most common workplace stressor, and 44% of managers say they feel overwhelmed at work.

But what’s behind this pressure? According to the survey, the majority of managers claim that one reason for their stress is that they are too busy with administrative tasks to appropriately manage their team. This signals that there may be a disconnect between how much executives and HR leaders perceive to be on managers’ plates and how much is actually there. It’s true that some administrative tasks will always be a part of a manager’s day-to-day role, but the amount of time this actually takes up is potentially cause for alarm.

Managers get no training

Based on the survey results, one reason managers are overwhelmed could be a lack of sufficient managerial training. Among managers who oversee 1-2 people, 59% received no managerial training at all, along with 41% of those who oversee 3 to 5 people.

Because many organizations have no official managerial training in place, new managers are left to imitate the managerial styles of their previous bosses (whether that style was the best method or not). Our survey found that 42% of new managers formed their management style from observing their previous managers, rather than training on how to motivate and lead teams in your organization.

Though HR leaders frequently deploy intensive training programs when an employee first starts at their company, the amount of training dwindles as these employees move up the ranks. Many of today’s organizations assume that management skills come naturally as an employee grows in their respective field. However, these leadership skills are often completely unrelated to a new manager’s previous day-to-day tasks, making training a necessity.

Too much time on admin

Additionally, repetitive administrative tasks are weighing down managers’ productivity. While many organizations have turned to automation technology to help free up managers’ time, whether through systems or robotic process automation, our study found that this still doesn’t seem to be doing the trick. 65% of companies have adopted some form of automation technology, yet 24% of managers at these organizations still waste five or more hours daily on administrative tasks like sending repetitive emails and filing expense reports.

The ineffectiveness of automation in many of today’s organizations isn’t a result of the tools themselves. Instead, it reflects how — or whether — organizations are teaching employees about them. Our survey found that 44% of managers have received no training on automation tools. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that there is a disconnect between the implementation of automation tools and a nuanced understanding of this technology across employees.

HR needs to be proactive

Instead of relying on the IT department to be solely responsible for all automation technology training, HR leaders should take proactive steps to introduce employees to these tools as they are deployed. Automation tools are only becoming more common in today’s workplaces, so HR leaders need to work alongside their tech teams to evaluate which tools will be most effective for streamlining repetitive tasks and develop formal strategies to teach managers about these platforms.

When it comes to technology and managerial training, it’s clear that there’s room for improvement across today’s organizations. However, it’s important to note that our survey showed positive results as well. Among managers who received managerial training before assuming their role, 92% feel they have an adequate work-life balance and 85% believe that their responsibilities are clearly communicated.

Managers play a critical role in creating high-performing organizations. The findings from our study can help HR leaders better realize where manager time is being spent and how it could be better utilized to focus on people and operations. By empowering managers to eliminate inefficiencies through automation and training, organizations will be able to run smoother from top to bottom and take on the future confidently.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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