4 Ways to Boost the Potential of Middle Managers
Middle managers wear a number of different hats. Their jobs are complex and multi-layered, often being caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they report to upper management and need to follow the strategic directives set out for them. At the same time, they are charged with making the best use of resources available to them and the people they supervise to get things done right on an operational level. Sometimes this can feel like a no-win situation because no matter how hard they try or how much they do, middle managers are looked upon as the problem if things are not going as well as they should.
It’s no wonder middle managers suffer from anxiety, depression, lack of commitment and disengagement!
Employees get promoted to middle management positions because they are bright and have done excellent work. Unfortunately, in far too many cases, they are not given sufficient guidance, lack necessary managerial skills and/or experience and are not given adequate training to help them be successful.
In a nutshell, the role of a middle manager is to align corporate strategies with execution. While this sounds straight forward and doable, recent MIT research reports that less than 10% of middle managers believe they can help their employees change and only 28% feel confident they could motivate their employees to do their jobs well.
It is critically important for organizations to take the time and energy to develop and nurture its middle managers. While senior leaders may set the overall direction of an organization, from an employee’s standpoint, it’s their relationships with their supervisors and direct managers that matter most. During exit interviews, many employees cite a poor relationship with their manager as the number one reason for leaving.
Here are 4 ways you can help your middle managers:
#1 Give your middle managers a clear sense of their roles and how they align with the overall goals of the organization. Help them find some common ground between what the organization wants and what they believe in and are passionate about. Passion has a way of boosting one’s energy, creativity and the desire to accomplish things well.
#2 Help your middle managers narrow or close the gaps in their managerial abilities by providing the necessary training to meet their personalized needs. There are many courses to choose from - Managing & Supervising People, Effective Time Management & Life Leadership, Cultivating a Culture of Collaboration and Making the Transition From Employee to Manager, to name a few. When possible, allocate time during the workday for this learning to happen. Your managers will see this as a sign of you valuing and investing in them.
#3 Foster a work culture that leverages people power. Recognize the potential power of your middle managers, they are well- positioned to strengthen and influence your work culture.
Mentor them to believe in themselves and their capabilities and help them recognize the lengths they can go to achieve desired results. Help build their confidence to proactively make the necessary decisions to impact positive, operational changes.
#4 Encourage your middle managers to communicate regularly with the employees they oversee. Lead by example. Face to face dialogue is much more powerful than a congratulatory email. This is not always possible, especially during these challenging times but it is very important to acknowledge and praise employee ideas and achievements.