Manager Mindsets: Best Practices for Engaging Frontline Managers

Every company, every employee, understands the importance of having a good manager

As more and more companies make commitments to inclusive talent practices, or
Opportunity Employment, we’ve found that these efforts often overlook the critical
role of frontline supervisors and hiring managers and underestimate the role of mental models, assumptions, and organizational culture in supporting this shift. By effectively engaging frontline supervisors and hiring managers in practice and culture change, companies can build buy-in for Opportunity Employment and reap the benefits for frontline employees and businesses alike.

In Manager Mindsets: Best Practices for Engaging Frontline Managers we share best practices for engaging and supporting frontline supervisors in systems change for inclusive talent. These insights were gathered from companies and workforce organizations who have experienced these challenges and lessons firsthand.

Barriers to Engaging Frontline Managers in Systems Change

As we consider how to engage managers in inclusive talent efforts, it’s important to acknowledge the barriers and constraints that often get in the way.

Talent Rewire uses this systems change framework to demonstrate the multiple types of change needed to truly shift a system—in this case, an individual company. At the most visible level, policies, practices, and resources affect how the organization is run and how work is organized. At the relational level, relationships and power dynamics impact how people interact with each other in the workplace. And underpinning all of it is mental models, or the assumptions, biases, and worldviews we all hold. Here, we organize the barriers to the systems change framework to demonstrate the many ways blockages show up within a company system.

Structural / Explicit: Policies, Practices, and Resource Flows

  • Limited time and overburdened
  • Lack of training and capacity building
  • Lack of top-down modeling, resourcing, and communication
  • Ineffective change management

Relational: Relationships and Power Dynamics

  • Lack of empathy and trust
  • Lack of empowerment, agency, and voice

Implicit: Mental Models

  • Misaligned priorities
  • Risk aversion
  • Stereotypes and biases
  • Limiting mental models

Best Practices for Engaging Hiring Managers and Frontline Supervisors in Opportunity Employment

Recognizing these barriers, we believe there are opportunities to shift how frontline managers are supported, incentivized, and celebrated for their critical role in Opportunity Employment. We’ve identified a series of effective strategies for equipping frontline managers as change agents in your Opportunity Employment efforts.

The research included in this report was made possible through funding from Walmart.