It’s no secret that the last few years have brought about a total workplace upheaval. Leaders and employees alike have been tasked with figuring out how new technology fits into daily tasks and big-picture plans. Remote, hybrid and in-office requirements, for better and worse, have altered how we communicate. And, an increased focus on work/life balance has us shifting our mindsets and priorities to improve our mental health.

So, where does that leave managers?

What once was an easy-to-understand role is now evolving into one that prioritizes the people doing the work more than the person overseeing them.

Harvard Business Review identifies the change from “manager” to “people leader” and lays out three fundamental shifts:

  • A power shift from “me” to “we.”
  • A skills shift from overseer to performance coach.
  • A structural shift from static and physical to digital and fluid.

For YPO member Carlos Tonnus, President of Gi Group Holding, a world leader in temporary and permanent staffing, advanced outsourcing, search and selection, training, outplacement and HR consulting, that means it’s more important than ever for managers to be able to lead through complexity. And while the title now comes with different objectives and requirements than it did just a generation ago, simple adaptations exist.

He shares insights on what he sees working with Gi Group’s clients and where he’s found success within his own business in adjusting to this role shift. 

Get buy-in on your mission and values as quickly as possible

When it comes to bringing in new talent, Tonnus says with the fluid structure of today’s work culture, it’s imperative for new hires to “get” the company culture as quickly as possible — from wherever they are working.

He explains that within his own company, the first three years of an employee’s tenure is where they see the most turnover. But by year three, they see much more long-term loyalty.

“A lot of young professionals don’t have that time. They want to move faster, they want to learn more and achieve more,” says Tonnus. “But to really understand our company, to really live our values and our mission, it takes more time.”

One way Tonnus and his team are working to engage employees is to provide more direct access to leadership. In their case, this has meant a return to the office for a few days a week, versus operating fully remote as they had in the past.

“These young people are asking for a hybrid. They want to be together,” he says. “They want to spend time with the team and especially with the leadership.”

Tonnus says that critical face-to-face time doesn’t have to only take place in the office. In fact, he’s tasked his managers with simply getting together with their teams, somewhere in person, allowing for flexibility on location.

Give your employees a voice – and react quickly to what they tell you

Along with culture buy-in, today’s workforce wants their voices heard. In shifting from “me” to “we,” Tonnus has implemented quarterly company surveys. Results are shared openly, followed by conversations, short-term actions and deadlines. Shifting to the hybrid schedule has been just one outcome of these surveys.

“It’s all it’s all good and well if you take a survey,” Tonnus says. “But then to see it put into practice and where it can apply to your job – that makes it tangible and you gain the trust of your employees.”

Be more comfortable letting things go

It’s no longer about your team working the way you do anymore, says Tonnus. Rather, it’s about you accepting how they can work to get the job done.

“For managers today, it’s both a challenge and opportunity to learn how to better engage professionals,” he says. “It’s learning how to delegate and giving autonomy to people, while at the same time ensuring that everyone delivers on the agreed upon results.”

Understand the data and tools your employees are using

Gone are the days when managers can be blissfully unaware of how key tools function for their teams. People leaders need to understand digital tools so that they can ensure their team is using them to the best of their ability. This is where the shift from overseer to performance coach comes in.

“The tools, the software, the systems; there is so much more access to data and reports than we used to have,” says Tonnus. “If you don’t know how to use those, you aren’t going to be able to make the best or right decision or help your employees do so.”

Empathy is Critical

Regardless of your role as a people leader, employee or executive leader, Tonnus stresses the importance of empathy, a skill that is increasingly becoming more vital in today’s workplace.

“We are all working removed, dedicating more time to ourselves, and we aren’t interacting face-to-face as much as we used to, but it’s so important,” he says.

Being able to understand your employees’ — and your clients’ — perspectives, experiences and emotions, is an invaluable trait as a manager, especially as you make the shift from the “me” to “we,” to encourage rather than oversee, and to understand the challenges of a more fluid and digital work landscape.