Strengthening Manager-Employee Relationships in the Modern Workplace: A Path to Success

Dr. Ryan Giffen

As the world of work has shifted towards hybrid and remote setups, the role of managers has undergone a significant overhaul. Building strong relationships between managers and their teams has become more crucial than ever before. Driven by the acknowledgment that these relationships are pivotal for organizational triumph, HR departments have recognized the need to provide managers with the tools and guidance necessary to excel in this evolving landscape.

The Challenge at Hand

The transition to remote and hybrid work has not been without challenges. For many managers, particularly those who did not experience such work environments early in their careers, this shift has posed unique difficulties. The lack of a blueprint to navigate these changes has led to a gap in understanding and performance. Research by RedThread Research in 2022 highlighted that managers often grappled with unclear expectations and limited insights into their team's performance.

The HR Imperative

The onus falls on HR departments to bridge this gap and equip managers with the skills they need to thrive in this new era of work. It's evident that a manager's ability to coach, guide, and support their team members is pivotal for their growth and career progression. When HR teams offer ongoing support, a harmonious ecosystem emerges wherein managers, employees, and the organization as a whole reap the benefits.

Empowering Managers for Success

To equip managers for success in this new landscape, a range of strategies can be employed. Active listening, for instance, is a cornerstone of effective management. By actively seeking input and ideas from team members, managers can foster an environment of collaboration and innovation. Understanding employees' career aspirations enables managers to provide guidance, recommend development paths, and facilitate connections within the organization.

HR's Role in Building Bridges

HR plays a pivotal role in fostering connections between managers and employees. Encouraging managers to recognize and celebrate top performers can lead to a more equitable distribution of talent. Additionally, building an internal talent pipeline through focused training and skill development not only prevents talent hoarding but also creates a versatile workforce ready to tackle future challenges.


Strengthening manager-employee relationships in the modern workplace is a journey that requires HR's unwavering support and the active participation of leadership. This partnership contributes to the creation of a thriving, engaged workforce that drives the organization forward.

About Dr. Ryan Giffen

Ryan Giffen is a Human Resources executive, Organizational Development Consultant, a Professor of Hospitality Management, and Podcast producer. With over 20 years of experience in human resources, hospitality, and academic roles, Dr. Giffen’s career began in hospitality, leading operations and human resource departments for Fortune 500 companies, including Hyatt Corporation, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, and Marriott Hotels Worldwide, as well as serving as the head of human resources for over 700 employees at Market Broiler Restaurants. Dr. Giffen then began teaching and consulting, which led him to achieve a Ph.D. from Iowa State University with a research emphasis on human resources. This pursuit led him to the role of organizational culture & development speaker. He was asked to speak at organizations such as the Orange County Hotel and Lodging Association, BBSI, Collins College of Hospitality Management, the International Education Corporation, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, and others.

Dr. Giffen currently serves as an Area Director of Human Resources for Hyatt Hotels, instructs and conducts research at California State University-Long Beach, consults with organizations in both culture and human resource / organizational development strategy, is the host of The Corporate Shadow podcast, serves as a redistricting commissioner for the City of Long Beach, Founder of Inospire, Inc, and is an active PADI Divemaster.