The middle manager has been left to drift in the corporate wilderness. This is a dangerous oversight because the middle manager holds the key to the most pressing challenge for business, productivity. The wise leader will quickly welcome middle managers back as the company’s saviours before they realise that we need them more than they need us. For those company bosses keen to make middle managers central to their ambitions, here are 5 steps to get going.
Talk about how difficult it is to do even reasonably well, because it is.
There’s often technical specialists who lack the aptitude to manage people and those who seem inclined. Provide career paths for both. If managing people is a skill your business lacks, call it out, assess, promote and recruit for it.
Like you would with any other skill, like playing the piano or French, little and often. Keep on training for as long as you are a manager. Concentrate on what’s difficult and can make most difference.
Eradicate HR-generated process and forms. You want managers’ time spent talking, not typing. One bank has introduced a monthly, optional dial-in for all managers of people, instead of emails.
Rather than top down or bottom up, start with the middle. Santander successfully turned around customer service in branches by focusing on regional and branch managers. As for the directors, the key was to stop them getting in the way.
To find out what makes a good manager great, download our management development white paper ‘return of the manager’ here.