Managing The Middle: Why It Matters

It is often said that middle managers can make or break your company. An essential part of any business, middle managers are often the liaison between upper management and front-line workers. They act as a buffer by making sure that day-to-day operations run smoothly. They walk the tightrope between the goals, aspirations and expectations of executive leadership, and the down-to-earth realities and needs of the rank-and-file employees.

Why middle managers are vital for your business:

  • Why the middle matters so much. The key positioning between upper management and front-line workers gives middle managers a unique and important perspective. They typically have a deep understanding of how each department works so they can help to identify problems before they occur. They help to ensure the needs of both the top and the bottom of the organization are met. Their influence extends up, down and across the organization.
  • Maintaining good relationships. The role as go-betweens for upper management and front-line workers helps middle managers build good relations with both groups. Front-line workers depend on middle managers to represent them when decisions are being made at higher levels of management. And the executive teams rely on middle management to implement and communicate their strategies. Skilled at conflict management, team building, communication, and negotiation, middle managers strive to maintain alignment and peaceful coexistence throughout the organization.
  • Influence on company culture. One of the most important functions of middle management is to ensure company culture is aligned. They help organizational ambitions become workplace culture by translating the strategy set forth by leadership into execution. Middle managers help break down strategic goals into specific actions, and then they drive those actions to completion. Day after day after day, they help to make sure their teams are on board with company-wide goals and objectives.
  • Change makers. Middle managers are crucial to implementing change within an organization. When changes are handed down by executives, middle managers must see to it that those changes are implemented as seamlessly as possible. If changes significantly impact morale or turnover that could risk overall objectives, the middle manager must raise this to executives and help find a middle ground. And if external changes affect the business, they help solve any problems that may arise.
  • Masters of Emotional Intelligence. Middle managers are the human connectors within an organization. Emotional intelligence skills are essential at this level. They need to show empathy and compassion to their team members, keep their own emotions in check, manage stress, and stay optimistic to help keep spirits up.

How can you help the middle managers in your organization succeed?

Develop them. Middle managers need to be able to handle a wide range of different responsibilities. Their skills and competencies require support and development. Development can help them become aware of where their areas of improvement are and why these behaviors are important. It can help them enhance the important skills they need to be successful such as communication, emotional intelligence, resilience, and agility. Development can help strengthen and sustain them in their important role as middle managers, and help them to rise to the next level within the organization.

If you’d like to talk about a leadership development plan for your middle managers, Catapult can help. Contact us today.

Additional resources:

YouTube: Why Middle Management is the Hardest Job with Simon Sinek

Harvard Business Review: The Real Value of Middle Managers

Wharton: Why Middle Managers May Be the Most Important People in Your Company

McKinsey: The Vital – but Vanishing – Role of Middle Managers

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