I cannot emphasize the importance of middle management enough. Middle managers don’t get enough credit. They’re sandwiched between the requests of their teams and scolded by their superiors to produce more. It seems impossible.
Middle management is a critical part of the organization. It is a liaison between their teams and their bosses despite the conflict. They’re advocates, problem solvers, and peace-keepers if done correctly.
I have a soft spot for middle managers. As a platoon leader, my job fell between my platoon and company commander, and I needed to balance the requirements from higher with the soldiers’ needs under my care.
Overall, middle managers make sure their subordinates are successful.
Provide Training and Resources
Your role changes when you get promoted. You go from doing the grunt work to managing resources and training. The best way you can help your organization is to find high-quality training to improve functions and reduce resource shortfalls.
You might think that as a middle manager that you’re unable to find time to train. But, it needs to be near the top of your to-do list. When you train your people, they feel fulfilled.
As a guideline on what training to provide, answer this question: what did you want to know, but no one told you how to do it? Explore the available options when you answer that question. Also, consider the needs of the team.
Reach across departments at work. Networking within your company enables you to build relationships with other people who can help you solve problems. Include building relationships with others who may not pertain to your line of work. You’ll be surprised at what you find.
Aside from training, resources are your second-most prized asset behind your personnel. What are your people missing from their jobs? Help your team find answers with their available resources.
Providing ways for personal development through training and resources is the best gift you can give your team. They’ll appreciate the way you work for them.
Network, Network, Network
Remember all of those company parties you’ve been skipping? It’s time to start attending those. People are emotional by nature, which means that we want to put names to faces when conducting business. Company off-sites, get-togethers, lunches, and casual meetings are critical to networking.
You enable your team when you build a network. I worked in operations as my first Army job. I managed a small section of people who dealt with training and resourcing for our companies. I knew I needed to network to be an asset to the team. My network came in handy during my time in that job.
Your work circles become assets. The more you connect with people, the more you’ll leverage them in the future. Don’t forget; this goes both ways. Do small favors for people, and they’ll help you out. It’s part of the reciprocity rule described by Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
You’re in the people business as a middle manager. Treat others well, and they’ll support you, too.
One tip I use is to have phone rosters of people in your organization. If your organization does not have one, start small by writing down your frequently-called numbers. Afterward, write down others that come through emails, papers, or meetings.
Maintain appropriate contact and gauge how you can help each other. Your most valuable skill to the team is the ability to network within a complex environment to enable your team to do their jobs.
Listen to the Worker on the Ground
I read a book called The Mission, the Men, and Me by Pete Blaber, who emphasized this point. Blaber argues that the guy on the ground provides valuable information to complete any mission. I would have to agree with Blaber.
A good manager will listen to their team and prioritize the issues they’re having. The entire team is responsible for solving these issues, but the manager is critical to enabling the group’s success. It’ll depend on the training and resources the manager gets for the team.
There are things the team cannot do by themselves. That’s where the manager fills their role. Managers enable their organizations by hearing issues, collaborating with their teams for viable solutions, and providing resources to solve those problems.
The middle manager doesn’t have an ivory tower to sit in while the workers toil away. Instead, managers should be the hardest working individuals on the team.
We all need to ask, how do I know what the issues are if I don’t talk to my team? Don’t hide out in your office. Be available. Be open. Take responsibility for the problems you have in your team.
Middle managers are the most critical parts of leadership within an organization. Without middle management, workers will aimlessly wander and complete tasks that do not fulfill organizational goals.
If you’re a middle manager, do your best to contribute to the success of your team. If you feel like your leadership is lacking, ask for improvement. Use your network. Track important tasks that contribute to the organization. If you do these things, your team will appreciate you.
What do you think? What makes a middle manager successful? Thanks for reading!
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.
The Mission, the Men, and Me by Pete Blaber. Read a review here.
Featured Image: Photo by La Miko
Image 1: Photo by Sora Shimazaki
Image 2: Photo by Ono Kosuki
Image 3: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio