People managers have the potential to make or break the employee experience at an organization. They are responsible for understanding the demands of the business and motivating their team members to meet those requirements. However, the people manager role is evolving due to three crucial factors – hybrid and remote work, automation, and elevated employee expectations.

To help understand this evolution of the people manager role, the Growth & Insights team for SAP SuccessFactors hosted interviews with 31 HR leaders from SAP customer organizations and conducted a survey of 731 people managers and 716 individual contributors from around the globe. Based on the research findings, below are six ways organizations can improve current people managers’ performance and experience with SAP SuccessFactors solutions.

Read the full research report

Utilize Co-Leadership Models

Organizations look to people managers to execute important initiatives and people practices, leading to an overload of responsibilities. Implementing co-leadership structures, even for a short period of time, can reduce a people manager’s role overload and provide individual contributors with a valuable experiential learning opportunity.

One way to provide an experiential opportunity is through dynamic teams, advanced capabilities available as part of SAP SuccessFactors solutions that can help create and manage cross-functional teams that exist beyond traditional hierarchies. Statistics reported that 66% of employees who had participated in a dynamic team felt a positive impact on their career, leading to higher engagement. Using dynamic teams can help organizations utilize co-leadership models for projects while also accessing individual contributor potential and incorporating those insights into future succession plans.

Update People Manager Job Descriptions

Many organizations have not updated their formal job descriptions for people managers to accurately reflect changes to their roles, leading to unclear performance expectations and ineffective systems for developing and selecting people managers. One way organizations can streamline this process is through generative artificial intelligence (AI) in the SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting solution. Hiring managers and recruiters can fine-tune job descriptions with generative AI, which allows them to incorporate supplementary content, identify biased language, and help ensure alignment with business requirements. Instead of starting from scratch every time a new position is created or requirements are updated, recruiters and hiring managers can use AI to help draft job descriptions faster and stay in their normal flow of work. And more importantly, the final content is more meaningful, inclusive, and competitive – presenting a clear and accurate view of the role to attract a larger pool of qualified and interested candidates.

Rethink Career Architecture and Pathways to Advancement

Without other options for growing, gaining status, or increasing compensation, employees will seek people management roles even if they are not suitable for or interested in this type of role. Developing alternative pathways for advancement, such as specialist career paths, for high-performing individual contributors ensures that employees are entering people manager roles for the right reason – to manage people.

Sharing career architectures more broadly can also improve managers’ awareness of internal mobility opportunities, which they cited as a top challenge. Talent marketplaces, like the SAP SuccessFactors Opportunity Marketplace solution, can improve visibility into development and growth opportunities within the organization. It can provide AI-driven personalized recommendations for learning, mentors, internal roles, and dynamic teams. This allows employees to have experiential learning opportunities and can provide them alternate career paths.

Powerful cloud HR software empowers individuals to reach their full potential

Implement Succession Planning for All

Everyone agrees that people manager roles should become more exclusive, but that also means talent pools will become shallower. Implementing succession planning at all levels of the organization allows organizations to identify “hidden” people manager talent. When developing succession plans, consider that a people manager does not always need to be replaced with an existing people manager – and that a people manager’s next role does not always need to be in management. The SAP SuccessFactors Succession & Development solution can make this process easier by helping employees expand their skills and advance their careers with visibility into continuous development dialogue, mentoring opportunities, and AI-powered career planning. It can also optimize succession planning, making it scalable to place the right people in the right roles and helping to secure the “hidden” people manager talent.

Create a Community for People Managers

People managers consider staying engaged, feeling included, and managing their well-being to be top challenges. Creating a people manager community provides this crucial workforce segment with social support, which research has shown to be a positive driver of the people manger experience. This also offers the organization a clear channel to host two-way communication with people managers. One way to foster a community for people managers is to leverage the SAP SuccessFactors Work Zone solution, which is a personalized digital workspace that helps support and encourage collaboration. People managers can create their own community and connect with each other, allowing for more engagement, sharing of best practices, and improvement in the overall employee experience.

Leverage Technology

Cloud HR technology can help support the strategies recommended here and solve many of managers’ most pressing challenges. With SAP SuccessFactors solutions, organizations can put their people at the center of everything and create AI-powered experiences that can support current people managers while using talent intelligence to help uncover and develop the managers of tomorrow.

As the expectations of people managers from both employees and organizations undergo constant evolution, the role of people manager will increasingly become more “people-centric” – focusing on support, fostering development, and nurturing a positive culture. It’s important that organizations use the right HR technology to deliver engaging employee experiences, increase productivity, and drive better business outcomes.

For additional insights on the evolution of the people manager role, read the full report, “Six Best Practices to Prepare People Managers for Today and Tomorrow.”

Christina Russo is global director of Solution Marketing at SAP SuccessFactors.

Get the latest SAP news delivered to your inbox every week