Talking about Managers!

Published: 1st October, 2021

In this webinar we explored what it is that managers need to learn to better manage their staff.

The State Of The Global Workplace 2021 Report (Gallup) showed that 80% of employees are not engaged or are actively disengaged. In Western Europe, employee engagement sits at 11%. Scary numbers. The same report showed that negative emotions – worry, stress, anger and sadness – reached record levels in 2020 (even pre-Covid these levels were concerning – negative emotions have been rising since 2009).

It will come as no surprise that managers play a critical role in affecting employee engagement and wellbeing. The CIPD Health & Wellbeing At Work Survey 2021 showed that stress remains to be the number one cause of workplace absence and management style is one of the main causes of stress.

So, if managers play such a critical role, what is it that employees need from them that they are not currently getting?

Through the lens of learning, we talked about the skills, knowledge and behaviours that managers need so that they can better manage their staff; and whether they are new or different to previously thought given how the external environment has changed over recent years.

We also looked at the impact of a manager’s own levels of stress on their ability to manage well and what they need to learn.

“Never be afraid of the conversations you are having.

Be afraid of the ones you are not having

Susan Scott

The ‘webinar’ word doesn’t really describe what it is we do with our time in sessions. We love a conversation where everyone has the chance to contribute.

Participants are provided with the means to make connections thus drawing attention to the conversation that is going on around.

It’s how we roll!

This was a fascinating conversation and it became clear quite quickly that it was a topic we were all passionate about and could talk for a long time on! We used the pre-prepared board to guide the starting point of the discussion and to think about how our managers are affecting the very low employee engagement scores across organisations globally. Two key themes emerged during our discussion:

1. Managers themselves are experiencing low engagement so there’s no wonder they are affecting the low scores;

2. The ‘poor management’ situation has been prevalent for a while (pre-Covid) and driven by a number of factors, mainly that managers are being appointed based on their technical ability, not their management ability or desire. In turn, then not receiving adequate training to develop and hone their skills of managing people.

Whilst we came up with lots of things we’d want to see, we concluded that it was a situation that ultimately required a lot of conversations in organisations. The conversations give organisations a great opportunity to improve management competence and performance, if there is a willingness and desire to do so.


We’d love you to take the time to watch the highlights and either way here are our brief notes about what you can take away from the session ‘Talking about Managers’:

1. An observation that Managers themselves are disengaged- thanks Judy!

2. Noting a mismatch between the role definition and expectations of a manager- Gary, Colin then Judy builds on;

3. A lack of training for managers to perform their role to the best of their ability’ -Gary;

4. Managers don’t always have the skills to interact well with people, to humanise the role, this is not always a significant focus- credit to Ed!

5. Noting the difference between this and being a ‘work machine’ -again thanks Ed!

6. A demonstration whilst we didn’t have time to orientate attendees on the Board Mart was able to hold the hot-pen and translate points in one place onto the Board following Wendy’s prompts and voiceover;

8. Colin gave a good challenge around working on oneself to be able to better manage people;

Into Opportunties:

9. to see people as technicolour human beings ~diversity Judy;

10. Easier having a team of clones – but no-one does! Judy;

Onto the ‘Wrap-up’:

11. There is a need to have plenty of conversations within organisations!

12. The conversations are complex, so having something like BIG PICTURE® to facilitate them would be really helpful for organisations;

13. We used the BIG PICTURE® Symbols to show how we break down complexity to help people make sense.

With more time in your community we would make further connections, unpack details and strenghen the top Opportunities to create an action list of what comes next.


Please do ask us to help you achieve this same impact in your organisation. We can deliver this activity for you and at the same time upskill your team to take over the delivery. You can weave this into your ongoing activities which means you’re paying once for resources and deploying them many times across your organisation.

Find out more about our approach for Engaging Learning led by Wendy Aspland. You can have a go yourself by printing and writing on the resource within the brochure you can download. The stuff we care about is all over our YouTube channel @YourBigPic. I would love to take you through a taster of BIG PICTURE® in a Webinar you can sign-up for here. Thanks for reading!