How to Create Effective Manager Tools & Resources

August 31, 2021

I’ve been in the business of creating manager tools, resources and guides for 10 years. It’s a key element of internal communications work – arming managers with the tools and resources they need to help connect with and inform their people. At Brilliant Ink, it’s an important part of many of our projects because we know that the information managers share affects the outcomes we’re looking to drive.

High-performing managers have a significant impact on employee job satisfaction, retention and performance as well as innovation, work-life balance and career development.  

As someone who has always had an opinion on most things, it seemed natural to have an opinion on manager communications before being an actual manager. (Was it entitlement, naiveté, blind luck or data-backed theories? It’s anyone’s guess and probably ripe for psychoanalysis.) But why not? As writers and communicators, we often explain complicated business, scientific, financial, regulatory, and strategic information, culling it down into accessible language for employees.  

However, as my team has grown and I’m feeling the constraints many managers feel on a day-to-day basis, my perspective is changing and softening on manager tools. They aren’t nice to have; they’re essential. They aren’t crutches; they’re life rafts.  

So, how can we ensure manager tools are as effective as possible? Here are five tips I’ve learned firsthand:  


The biggest constraint I face as a manager is time. Why? Managing the needs of several people who look to you for coaching, support and air cover takes time. So, to be truly effective, keep your manager materials as short as possible. Just cut right to the chase.


When I’m short on time, I need actionable steps to get me where I need to go quickly. What action do you need me to take and why? What are the possible outcomes? How can I prepare or learn more if needed? Spell out the steps you want managers to take and include deadlines if needed.


Sending information in advance is lovely, but you can rest assured that if the topic is 18 months ahead, I will never remember it. When creating manager materials, try to keep the materials timely, looking only a few months ahead. If sharing a long-term plan is necessary, order the information within the resource by date, so managers can first address immediate needs.  


All my current and previous managers can attest that I LOVE context. Yet, while comprehensive plans are an important part of sharing context, keep them as focused as possible when it comes to manager tools. It might look like creating a series of one-pagers or a monthly deep-dive into a topic, allowing managers to pace their learning and reference what they need when they need it.  


Show the me links, people. Creating an easy experience for managers is a key element of adoption. If you want managers to use a tool or act, make it as seamless as possible, removing any barriers along the way.  

Managing a team is incredibly rewarding and enriching

It’s something I’m thankful to have the opportunity to do. I’m also incredibly thankful for short, actionable, timely, focused and connected tools, so keep ‘em coming. Looking for more ways to build up brilliant managers? Check out “4 Ways Managers Can Improve Relationships with Employees.”

For more bite-sized brilliance, subscribe to our monthly employee experience newsletter, the Inkwell, and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest!

Sara Forner Howland

You might also like

2021 Employee Experience Grati-do’s (and Don’ts)

As we looked back over the last year, we wanted to take some time to share things we're grateful to be seeing emerge in the workplace––and things we're all too happy to see on their way out. Let's dive into our grati-do's and grati-don'ts!

Read more
Why Inclusive Mental Health Language Matters

While mental health language is an important consideration in building inclusive workplaces, it can have a negative impact on employee experiences if used incorrectly. Let's start making connections, not guardrails!

Read more
How Managers Can Harness Stay Conversations for Employee Retention

As a manager, how do you combat employee departure? Don't wait until an employee is walking out the door but instead proactively talk with the direct reports about what’s working, and what’s NOT working. Enter the stay conversation.

Read more