The role of the manager has changed dramatically. One change that has yet to happen - for the benefit of the organization and the employees - is for the manager to become a 2-way communicator within the organization.
In the traditional manager setting, information flowed from the top, through the manager, to the employee. The role was more taskmaster and supervisor than communicator. It worked fine in a top-down, static organization.
However, top-down, stable organizations are the exception in today’s world, not the norm. The type of work being done differs too. The traditional manager role isn’t nearly as effective with specialized knowledge workers as it was in the factory.
The biggest difference is that the executives are only in a position now to make strategic, high-level decisions (which is an important task). When it comes to the quick decisions that need to be made at the ground level, the individuals and experts closest really are best positioned to be successful. This usually means the manager and the employee. Employees are the ones who are getting the most detail and have the best position to identify the information that will impact strategy. Yet, there is no mechanism for them to get that information to the executives.
This is where the manager needs to be the 2-way communicator. The manager can get the information necessary to make good strategic decisions from the employee and then relay that information to the executives. Those executives can then make the strategic decisions and communicate them to the manager, who can then relay them to the employees.
This isn’t a one time transaction, but a constantly moving flow.
Let’s look at an example - the return-to-office issue. The executives have made the strategic decision that everyone should be in the office and communicate that to the managers. The managers can then talk to the employees and see how they feel and get suggestions. The manager can then communicate this information to the executives who can adjust their strategy or the rules.
Not doing this would be like the employee hearing that customers really want a blue shirt, but executives have decided red shirts are going to be the best seller. If the manager can communicate what the employee is hearing, then it can give executives the information to adjust.