3 ways the manager role will change in 2024 and beyond

What HR leaders need to know about the role of the manager and how it’s evolving

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By Nicole Schreiber-Shearer, Future of Work Specialist at Gloat

All employees are facing new challenges in the new world of work—especially your managers. As workers’ expectations evolve and people put a premium on flexibility and autonomy, managers find themselves in the middle of a challenging balancing act.

On one hand, managers must ensure their team does everything in its power to achieve departmental goals and meet the expectations of the C-suite. Yet on the other, they must give their direct reports the sense of agency they’re looking for and encourage them to continue growing their careers with the company.

These priorities are often difficult to juggle, as evidenced by the fact that more than 50% of managers report being unprepared for the role they will play in their organization’s future. Fortunately, there are a few steps that leaders can take to set their managers up for success in 2023 and beyond.

How is the role of the manager evolving?

In the past, a manager’s role was about coordinating the work of all employees within a department to deliver results that help the organization grow. Managers used to be selected and promoted largely based on their ability to oversee employees who could carry out tasks deemed essential or advantageous to the business.

However,  in the new world of work, HR teams are striving to grow and develop managers based on their ability to serve as coaches and teachers. To stay ahead of today’s accelerated pace of change, managers can no longer meticulously keep tabs on their direct reports. Instead, they must focus on equipping their employees with the tools, learning opportunities, and necessary support to continue expanding their skill sets.

The most successful management approaches also consider priorities that are outside the needs of the immediate team. Rather than being concerned solely about their department and being possessive of their direct reports, modern managers have to see the bigger picture by empowering their employees to maximize their contributions to the organization at large.

What are the most noteworthy mindset shifts managers must make?

As their role evolves, there are a few important mindset shifts that managers should embrace to help their teams thrive in their next chapter.

  • The normalization of remote work
    Managers are now tasked with managing people across different time zones and work setups. The days of presenteeism and strict 9-to-5 schedules have come to a close; instead, managers must inspire their employees and trust that their direct reports are giving their assignments their all—even when they’re out of sight.
  • Evolving employee expectations
    Knowledge workers increasingly expect their managers to be part of their support system, rather than solely serving as someone who evaluates their performance. As global talent shortages continue to shift the employee-employer power dynamics in workers’ favor, managers must ensure they’re going the extra mile to retain and engage their employees.
  • Embracing a new generation of workplace technology
    Several technological innovations have the potential to influence managers’ day-to-day experiences. More than one in four companies have invested in new technology designed to enhance employee productivity; some of these tools also promise to replace as much as 69% of the tasks historically done by managers, like assigning work and reminding employees of their tasks. At the same time, talent marketplaces are transforming career development by matching employees to relevant learning opportunities, in turn giving them greater ownership of their professional progression.

3 steps leaders can take to help their managers prepare for the new world of work

It’s not just managers who must embrace new ways of working to set their people up for success. There are also a few steps that HR leaders can take to help their managers seamlessly navigate this transition.

#1. Encourage all employees to expand their horizons

With two out of three employees declaring they would quit their jobs if internal mobility wasn’t offered, today’s managers must encourage their direct reports to take on new projects if they want them to stay with the company.

While manager support is a step in the right direction, all leaders must be on board with talent-sharing efforts to turn internal mobility into an enterprise-wide reality, as Novartis’s Global Head of Talent Markus Graf witnessed firsthand. “67% of our associates said their career development really depends on their manager and if they’re lucky to have a fantastic manager. But if they’re less lucky, they might need a little bit more support.”

To ensure all associates feel supported and encouraged to pursue internal development opportunities, Novartis launched a workforce agility platform. The platform generates suggestions for projects and gigs that users can take on, based on the skills they have and the competencies they wish to develop.

#2. Prioritize visibility and transparency

All too often, employees who are eager to grow with their company feel like they’re being left in the dark when it comes to the steps they should prioritize to take their careers to the next level. In fact, one-third of workers acknowledge that they don’t know what their career prospects at their current organization are.

Managers can help guide employees toward their career goals, but it falls on leadership to ensure every team member has equal visibility into all of the growth opportunities within their organization. A talent marketplace provides transparency by recommending projects, gigs, mentorships, and full-time roles based on an employee’s skills and ambitions.

The platform also includes career pathing, allowing managers and their direct reports to align on development goals—which has proven to be a game-changer for organizations like Novartis. “The talent marketplace is more than a nice idea,” Sara Steiner, Global Head of Talent Marketplace at Novartis explains. “It’s more than a symbolic act because you’re really helping employees out and making it a lot easier for them to have those career development discussions and then figure out when they need a mentor.”

#3. Let your people take the lead

Managers might think they know what direction their reports want to take their careers in. But no one is as familiar with their professional goals as the employees themselves.

Rather than putting the onus entirely on managers to make career development decisions for their team, business leaders should empower all workers to take ownership of their progression, regardless of their seniority level.

Talent marketplaces help make this possible by showing employees open opportunities that align with their skills and experience. Once workers gain visibility into the breadth of opportunities that are available to them, they can make decisions about which development experiences appeal to them most, as Nithya Vaduganathan at Boston Consulting Group explains. “ What these talent mobility app performers—many of whom work with platform providers—are able to do is that they give employees the opportunity to browse and apply for opportunities directly on talent marketplaces versus being subject to that manager directing them.”


To learn more about what it takes to help your managers prepare for the new world of work, find out how workforce agility platforms can help your organization grow and develop your people.

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