Manager-Facilitators build the collaborative workforce and develop employees.  Why it isn’t obvious at this point is mind-boggling.  Here’s one example.

In between bites of canapés and crudités, the emcee of the company-wide luncheon called everyone’s attention for a trivia-style ice breaker. Whoever got the answer right received a nifty flash drive.

The quiz items were a mix of humor and company tidbits that clearly put everyone at ease.  People were pleasantly surprised just how “interesting” the company’s history was.  For instance, a popular celebrity embroiled in a recent real-life court drama happened to have worked for them as an intern decades ago.  And one of their gentler senior partners happened to be a black belter in taekwondo.

One item, however, stood out.  The question was:

“If employees are the foundation of an organization, what are managers?”

People were throwing tongue-in-cheek responses after funny retorts.  The correct answer was “BACKBONE”. Nobody got it right.  But the seemingly innocuous question got table conversations going.

Are managers really the backbone of organizations?

The short answer is YES.  And the reasons run deep.

Why are manager-facilitators the backbone?

Manager-facilitators guide employees’ actions, decisions, and influence their energy and enthusiasm.  They set the tone. No longer are they “just” the liaisons between and among upper management and employees and neither are they “just” the ones interpreting the organization’s mission and vision.

They have evolved into leaders, motivators, politicians, disciplinarians, coaches, problem solvers, and yes — facilitators.

When you think of a facilitator you think of a person who teaches a seminar or someone who referees a conversation.  But facilitators are anyone who makes an action or process easy or easier.

If you think about it, managers who are well-loved play this role beautifully.  Effective managers take it upon themselves to be responsible for performance, quality, improvement, productivity, strategy, and execution –  through the people who work for and with them.

This is the reason why the facilitator hat is crucial to a collaborative workforce and employee-forward workplace.

No longer is the manager the proverbial bespectacled man behind a desk.

What role do managers play and why do their tasks as “facilitators” make for an employee-forward workplace?

The reasons are numerous.

  • Managers are responsible for keeping a disciplined focus on the organization’s mission and vision. They ensure that their actions and those of employees’ consistently reflect the mission and vision.
  • Managers are clear about their purpose and roles as managers. They know what is expected of them and how they are expected to perform their roles.  Ultimately, they assume responsibility for the execution of their roles.
  • Managers are genuinely concerned about employee welfare. They practice open and honest communication by being genuine, which from a TIGERS 6 Principles™ standpoint means they are respectfully sincere, frank, and forthright as well as being open, accessible, and inclusive.  They strive to be good listeners.  They don’t pass judgment until they’ve gathered all the facts and practiced fairness in employee assessments.
  • Being inclusive, managers respect diversity. They endeavor to understand and accommodate differing needs, styles, perspectives, views, and cultural backgrounds.
  • Managers empower their employees and trust them to make important decisions.
  • Manager-facilitators, establish, maintain, and remind everyone of team parameters. They embody effective team development and team-operating behaviors.
  • Managers are great at utilizing human and material resources effectively! They go the extra mile to learn about their employees’ talents and strengths.  They also monitor how physical resources are used.
  • Managers take it upon themselves or make it their responsibility for their ongoing training as well as those of their employees.

What these manager-facilitators attributes mean in the long run

The attributes mentioned above are key behaviors that all effective (and well-loved) managers share.  However, I find that these are also the same attributes that are closely associated with skillful facilitation.

Post-pandemic, managers are actually facilitators – they are the driving force behind tapping into and focusing individual and group expertise so that tasks are successfully completed.  They make things “easier”. They work relentlessly towards productive employee interactions and encourage open discussion while minimizing conflict that is harmful.

Commitment and loyalty are critical to organizational success. Guess whose shoulder it falls on to keep things together? In brief, manager-facilitators are the most fundamental aspect of business success. Finding talent, keeping talent, and making sure they are happy, positive, innovative, and productive are their key aspects.

On a final note, how can managers tell when they have successfully facilitated a healthy and robust workplace?

The answer lies in their employees and the teams they handle.

  1. Their teams are interdependent.  Employees trust one another and won’t hesitate to approach a colleague for help with resources and knowledge. Decisions are respected and made freely.  Working together is second nature because they know that collaboration ups the chance of getting the best results.
  1. Trust increases and respect is earned. Comments are positive, constructive, and supportive.  Nobody gossips.  Confidentiality is maintained.  Boundaries are respected.
  1. Communication is a two-way street. Seniority, a strong personality, or length of tenure do not get in the way of expressing ideas fully. Everyone listens and listens well.  They know how to argue and people speak openly about feelings.
  1. Personal agendas are set aside.  People take responsibility and accountability for group decisions. When the outcome isn’t the one they expected, support is still given.
  1. They have fun. They celebrate accomplishments and take pride in each other’s achievements.

Indeed “facilitation” is one of many tools and techniques effective managers possess.  The use of this skill is a catalyst for defining organizational outcomes and organizational success.

Copyright, TIGERS Success Series, Inc. by Dianne Crampton

Leading with empathy and support

People Skilled Managers Create Better Workplaces.




TIGERS Leadership Fundamentals™ and Collaborative Leader™ training provide:

  • A self-paced, virtual learning experience (and coaching is an option, too),
  • Certificate of completion,
  • SHRM recertification credit

Prepare your organization’s managers to engage employees, conduct powerful 121’s strengthen workplace collaboration and improve your bottom line.

Register today!