Flexibility – in terms of both working hours, and they way work gets done – is becoming the norm. Employees, especially those belonging to Generation Y, appreciate the freedom and autonomy flexibility provides.
But flexibility may be a little more difficult for those in middle management to accept. Managers are the ones who are often ultimately responsible for ensuring that work gets done, so it is understandable that they may not be overly enthusiastic about giving their team some extra freedom. However, there are a few tips for getting around this resistance, as explained in Cali Williams Yost’s article on Inc.com:
Middle managers should participate in setting the guidelines for flexibility
When people are allowed to participate in establishing a process from the start, their buy-in and ownership of the practice will increase. The participation should include discussions with managers about why they think flexibility will be good, but also bad – which brings us to the next point:
Let middle managers voice their opinions and fears about giving people flexibility
When the potential problems around flexibility are fully and openly discussed, they can then be overcome. Once the fears are addressed, it opens doors for managers to see the benefits of flexibility more clearly, and to focus on them moving forward and using flexibility to everyone’s advantage.
Make sure employees have as much responsibility as the managers
Yost refers to this as a ‘partnership model’ in her article. It is much easier for middle managers to accept work flexibility if the responsibility for getting the work done successfully is officially shared between them and their employees, rather than squarely on their shoulders.
Establish how flexibility related issues will be resolved
From the beginning it must be clear that any problems that arise due to flexibility will be resolved by the whole team, or all of the individuals involved – once again, the onus should not be on the manager only.