Middle managers come in between senior management and front-line supervisors/employees. They are supposed to bridging peace and optimizing compliance in an organization.
Frankly speaking, the job of middle managers is quite daunting and demanding both.
From one perspective, middle managers are pulled by the centripetal power of senior administration that requests adept and consistent execution of business strategies. In such situations, middle managers are supposed to toe the company line.
While on another perspective, middle managers also deal with the centrifugal power of workforce, representatives, and supervisors who regularly long for salary hike, essential amenities, and specific facilities. The workforces are also stubborn about how work should be channelized in the organization, plus, frequently they oppose new frameworks, advancements, and technologies.
So, all in all, middle managers play one of the most crucial roles by living in the space between employees and upper management.
They can be quite helpful in facilitating the understanding and voice of the workforce, plus, they may let the plans and strategies of senior-level management look desirable and favourable to the front-line workforce.
Who is a Middle Manager?
In any organization, management is of the utmost importance.
There should be proper planning and meticulous execution to facilitate smooth management. The hierarchy of management in every organization is different.
But, most of the aspects of management are common for all. The high-level managers are the decision-makers, and the low-level managers enforce the decisions. But, sometimes, there are some gaps in communication among these two extreme levels of management.
Here, the middle managers come into the picture. Let us take a sneak peek into what exactly are the role and importance of middle managers.
Meaning of a Middle Manager
There needs to be a bridge to fill the gap between the two levels of management, viz. high level and low level. This bridge is the middle manager.
These middle managers form the foundation of middle-level management. The middle managers are below the executive management and above the team leaders.
They keep track of working of the team and take care that the productivity of all the teams is maintained. The middle managers are careful that the differences among the employees and the leaders do not affect the goal to be achieved.
Role of Middle Managers
Senior officials set the key course of action together with the general rules and regulations of how the organization should function.
However, in the VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) world of business operations, the continuous role of middle managers is quite pivotal in driving the execution of business strategy.
Middle managers are responsible for actualizing the key strategies made by top-level management by motivating, leading, and convincing the front-line workforce.
Some of the key roles played by middle managers are-
1. Channelization of strategy
In an organization, when senior administrators have effectively conveyed a business strategy, middle managers are supposed to take the hand-off and channelize it over the different levels of the company.
Middle managers are there to guarantee that everybody comprehends the strategy and associated corporate needs and how the top-level management expects their execution.
2. Choosing strategic chances
In the successful business channelization, middle managers are also responsible for taking advantage of favourable situations in the organization.
Being a middle manager, you need to assume a first job in screening the chances as they emerge, and afterwards, you should choose which one’s are the most encouraging and ought to be the focal point of the company.
3. Project Handling
The next thing that middle managers are supposed to do is taking strategic initiatives for different projects and choosing the rights ways for their skilful execution at the different levels of an organization.
While working with the available company resources, middle managers play the role of designating those resources over the different activities together with setting up the deadline time for the adept execution of a project strategy.
Middle managers additionally coordinate with different functional units across the company. They ensure that critical information and strategy stream all over the organization.
4. Fostering development
Middle managers are also responsible for incorporating and organizing the responsibilities of others and placing them in a vital situation to cultivate growth.
They also need to have keen eyes upon the innovations across the industry to implement them when some unanticipated issues or unexpected opportunities occur, as they are perfectly positioned to pipe those innovations to the most relevant entity of the organization.
Middle managers likewise help in converting new ideas into sensible plans, while propelling the workforce and encouraging joint development.
5. Building hierarchical agility
The VUCA (VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) environment of businesses, adapting quickly to realities on the ground, conquering different impediments, and consistently re-designating resources is inevitable.
Being in the best position to channelize organizational manoeuvres, middle managers are responsible to rapidly react and make key implications to channelize agility and resolve any issues the moment they arise.
In addition to these roles, middle managers should also set an example of living the values of the organization.
Even though the Middle Managers’ ability to perform is subject to many factors for example company structure, business strategy, board frameworks, and workforce, they are eventually the ones who ensure the company accomplishes its objectives by involving and channelizing all the units in a cohesive, constructive and productive manner.
Challenges of Middle Managers
Being a middle manager is a task requiring an immense amount of skills.
The qualifications of a middle manager include managerial skills, negotiation skills, and many more. As the middle manager is a bridge between the two levels of management, he/she is often caught between the devil and the deep sea.
There are some everyday worries of a middle manager given below.
1. Having to take many meetings
Taking many meetings with executive management as well as the team level management is an integral part of the job of a middle manager.
The middle managers are the ones who have to report all the miseries of the collective staff of the organization to the executive managers and then deliver the solutions suggested by them to the team. It is a tedious task.
The details of both sides should be told well to the other with the use of proper skills. Any mistake in giving the right information can lead to a difference of opinion, ego clashes, and even fights. The middle managers have to be very particular and precise in what they say and how they speak.
2. Being the peacemakers
As discussed above, they are the bridge between the two levels of an organization. Hence, keeping the work environment peaceful is one of their responsibilities. They have to strive hard to achieve that.
At times, the demands of the staff may get increasingly unreasonable, or sometimes, the rules of the executive level management could be overbearing. The middle managers have to make the parties understand each other and develop a bond of acknowledging each others’ efforts and respect the necessary decisions.
Also, in this process, they might have to face one party’s wrath and be accused of being biased and favouring a specific party. But, they have to explain the real situation and make amends respectfully. It is a tricky and exhausting task.
Tips for Middle Managers
The burden of a middle manager is one of its kinds.
It is a combination of responsibility, ethicality, and political correctness. However, there are some ways which will help you farewell at being a middle manager. Some tips are mentioned below.
1. Conduct a network audit
It is essential to establish a network of all the employees. It facilitates better communication among them. They can share all the important stuff related to the work being done. The middle manager can gather the information they require to report to the higher-level management through this network.
This network can work on sharing documents by hand, and in today’s times of technological upsurge, it can also work through emails, messages, and video conferences. It reduces the burden of going to every individual and asking him for his/her work report.
2. Do not conduct unnecessary meetings
Meetings are significant in an organization as they open the gates of communication and sharing information. But, taking meetings for menial things which can also be done without conducting a meeting is of no use. It creates wastage of time and resources.
There should not be frequent reporting of work from both sides. Instead of that, there can be a system that is based on trust and amicability. If the workflow is adequately structured, everyone should take it as their responsibility to follow it properly and not cause issues that the middle manager has to deal with.
3. Integrate the staff
The most frequently faced issue of the middle manager is the clashes among the team. The employees disagree, argue, and sometimes, fight among themselves due to a significant difference of opinion. It can lead to the creation of a wider gap between the executive managers and team level management.
The people at a higher level of managerial hierarchy may find it difficult to trust the capabilities of the team members. At the same time, the low-level managers may find executing management too stringent. Here, the middle managers will again need to come into action.
On the other hand, if the employees work together in harmony, a pleasant work atmosphere will be maintained. The goals will be achieved, and the middle managers will not have to resolve any dispute. Hence, integrating the staff is one way to make the tasks of the middle managers easier.
4. Redefine a good day
As a low-level team member, all one needs to do is tick off the tasks on your part and sign off for the day. But, the functions of a middle manager are far different. They are not that individualistic. Their responsibilities depend on the work done by others.
Being a manager means to amend, rectify, and deliver the best of results as a team. A middle manager can call a day good only when he/she manages to settle all the low-level management and executive management disputes.
A middle manager should always be available for the team whenever he/she is needed. If the team is appreciated, he/she should find happiness in it, and if the team fails, he/she should be ready with a solution to resurrect the team. If these boxes are ticked off, then a middle manager can call the day a good day.
5. Do not be disheartened with less authority
Many times, the most significant reason for the strain faced by a middle manager is the presence of responsibility without authorization. The middle managers always have lesser authority than executive managers.
It creates a wave of unrest and disheartenment among them. But, all that one can do to stay calm and compose in such situations is to align your interests with the organization’s betterment. Once you start finding good in any company’s progress without you being at the centre of power, you can experience satisfaction with your job. Instead of trying to be the authoritative manager, you can be a people’s manager.
The employees should feel good about talking to you and share their problems and suggestions with you which you, in turn, can share with the executive management and facilitate decisions in favour of both these parties.
6. Do not micromanage
It is a myth that employees do not work well without micromanagement. Gone are the days when people used to work the best only under strict and stressful circumstances. Now, it is the era of equality.
The middle manager should establish an egalitarian culture that is embracive by everyone. It should encompass everyone good at their jobs rather than discriminating against them on baseless conditions. It will minimize the challenges of maintaining discipline and checking the progress of the assigned tasks on each level on the part of the middle manager.
Instead, the organization can deploy a free work environment wherein a team can decide their working style according to their convenience and provide the desired result in the given timeline. It will considerably reduce the stress of micromanagement on the middle managers.
Final Thoughts about Middle Managers!
A middle manager’s job can prove to be very stressful if not dealt with the right way. You can make use of the tips given above to do better at middle management.
Businesses that want to optimize their performance should always pay attention to getting the right middle managers in place.
How crucial do you consider the role of middle managers in bridging the gap between senior-level managers and front-line workers?