In today’s ever-evolving landscape, the role of HR leaders has transformed into a multifaceted challenge, with one overarching priority currently: elevating manager effectiveness. The success of an organisation depends on its leadership capabilities, and a recent survey conducted across our extensive global professional network underlined this. In fact, a resounding 67% of HR leaders have identified leadership capability as a linchpin of the people function’s success, and these findings resonate with insights reported by prominent sources such as Gartner, McClean & Company, MIT Sloan, and Forbes this year.

The Challenges of Manager Effectiveness

Flawed Manager Pipeline

Traditionally Managers often ascend to their roles based on their prowess as individual contributors in functional or technical positions. However, being a top-performing individual contributor does not guarantee success as a Manager. This dichotomy raises questions about the effectiveness of this approach.

Overburdened Managers

The role of Managers has become increasingly demanding, burdened by additional tasks, expectations, and responsibilities. This has made the role untenable for many, raising concerns about sustainability and the impact on organisational effectiveness.

Improving the Manager Pipeline

Understanding First-Time Managers (FTMs)

Insights from the HR Trends Report 2023 by McClean & Company shed light on the challenges surrounding FTMs. While 41% excel in functional or technical competencies, 17% lag in personal, strategic, and leadership ones. HR’s effectiveness is closely tied to FTM’s ability to exhibit quality people leadership and developing a formalised learning and development strategy specifically for FTMs has emerged as a critical success factor. Those that do, have a 2.8 times higher success rate in impacting organisational success.

Key Aspects of FTM’s Learning and Development Strategies

Defining the Role: Helping individuals understand what the role of a People Manager entails is crucial. Allowing them to self-discover their fit significantly improves their ability to manage the responsibilities and expectations effectively.

Diverse Pipelines: Organisations like US-based WPS are ensuring a strong, diverse pipeline of aspiring managers by making the application process employee-driven, rigorous, and unbiased.

The Burden of Managerial Roles

We consistently hear from our network how difficult the Manager role currently is, the expectations from employees are high (77% saying they are more reliant now on their managers than ever before), getting used to managing hybrid teams, and the research shows that the post-pandemic era has seen a significant increase in managerial responsibilities. For example, a 35% increase in direct reports, a 41% rise in decision making tasks, a 53% surge in accountable responsibilities, and a 48% increase in the complexity of responsibilities. In comparison to individual contributors, Managers were twice as likely to experience this growth in responsibilities.

A New Approach to Manager Development

For those experienced Managers it’s not actually the skills that they are lacking, it’s the job demands and design. The workload has increased, some saying by up to 51%. It’s a foundational issue, the Manager job is no longer manageable, so what is the answer? It’s not more training – with only one in four HR leaders reporting that their investment in traditional Manager development approaches is yielding results, a new and more innovative approach is calling. This approach focuses on reshaping the job itself to make it more manageable by resetting expectations and removing hurdles.

Gartner’s Recommended Approach

1. Resetting Role Expectations: Empower Managers to connect employees with coaches while they focus on their unique strengths and tasks.

2. Rebuilding the Manager Pipeline: Encourage aspiring Managers to experience the role’s challenges and opt-in or out with a clear path for future re-entry.

3. Rewiring Manager’s Habits: Equip Managers with strong management habits through intentional cues, manageable routines, and focused reflection.

4. Removing Process Hurdles: Enable HR managers to eliminate low-value rules that burden Managers and employees.


The Tucker Stone survey showcases the unanimous prioritisation of Manager effectiveness in our global HR network. The insights gleaned from this research and the actionable solutions presented here contribute not only to overall organisational success but also the cultivation of a more diverse and robust pipeline of leadership talent. Additionally, they foster a deeper appreciation for the challenges faced by Managers today. HR practitioners can guide organisations toward innovative approaches that optimise manager effectiveness, a path that leads to thriving, resilient, and sustainable organisations.

As specialists in HR executive search, we are regularly talking to experienced and developing Managers and Leaders, as well as those responsible for organisational talent, learning and related strategies. If you would like to discuss further, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Vanessa Blackburn
Search Partner