A manager’s lot is a tough one

There was a time when being a good manager was to be a good organiser, planner and co-ordinator. That’s not enough for the 21st Century.


There was a time when being a good manager was to be a good organiser, planner and co-ordinator. That’s not enough for the 21st Century.

There was a time when being a good manager was to be a good organiser, planner and co-ordinator. That’s not enough for the 21st Century. In addition to their operational role, managers nowadays are also responsible for immediate HR issues, often without the necessary training or time to do it.

Such responsibilities range from managing absence, conducting performance reviews and reviewing risk management protocols to name a few. Nowadays managers are even responsible for the engagement of staff and increasing the scores on the staff opinion survey.

Being a good manager means being there for your staff. But if you are there for them, who is there for you? Who supports the manager? What tools are available for you when things get tough? How do you support others?

When an employee tells you they are stressed you have a moral and legal responsibility to do something about it. The word ‘stress’ strikes fear into the heart of many managers – and often managers just avoid dealing with it.

The latest data from the HSE states that about one in five employees find their job ‘extremely stressful’. According to the HSE only about a third of managers discuss stress with employees. Organisations need to create an environment that allows people to perform at their best and that includes managers.

One of the first things is to understand the underlying causes of stress. Financial issues, family and relationship matters account for about 80% of the reasons why contact is made with an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). For many managers this can be rocky ground to cover; supporting somebody’s personal issues may make the employee feel uncomfortable that the manager knows too much about them and their personal life.

Being able to step back and remain objective is key to retaining the managerial perspective; the smart use of an EAP allows you to do this. An EAP can be of help to managers in a number of areas, helping them provide immediate practical and emotional support to their employees. It may be a good idea to allow them to use your office to make the call to the EAP. Promoting the use of your EAP ensures that your employees are getting supported and allows you to concentrate on making whatever adjustments are necessary to help and support the employee in the workplace.

When making a referral, simply call the EAP and you will be advised on exactly what to do and how the process will work, leaving you better equipped to deal with it. EAPs provide direct support for management too. Supervisory Support is dedicated support to help managers with the complex issue of being a manager. Supervisory Support is more akin to coaching for difficult situations to help managers make sense of what they are facing, and to confidently deal with it. Support can be given for anything, from breaking bad news, managing a redundancy programme or dealing with an employee’s aggressive behaviour, to having to deal with the death of a colleague. Are you comfortable with how to behave and what to say? Can you manage your own anxieties around the issue? This is where talking with an EAP can really help; the objectivity of an external person is often very beneficial.

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