Being a middle manager in a big corporation can be a wonderful position but it is one that presents it unique challenges. A middle manager is usually closer to front line staff than executives however at the same time, there is great responsibility to achieve higher level goals. Often times the compensation and incentives of a middle manager does not include stock options, travel in first class or the opportunity to be readily seen in action presenting additional promotional opportunities.
What is the best way to describe a middle manager in just a few words? I would describe it as the sandwich position. The middle manager’s staff often views their boss as someone who understands the day-to-day production push and sees first hand how hard they work. They view their boss as someone who can fight for their right and provide key information back to them from the top. Top level executive management views the middle manager as a producer and someone who needs to make it happen regardless of staffing levels, the right tools and is a sponsor for the cause but not one of the elite.
More than five years ago middle managers were casualties during the need for downsizing. Vice Presidents and above were then required to manage lower level staff saving their companies money yet at times sacrificing employee development and needed coaching. This action came at a sacrifice to some companies effective growth and efficiencies.
As the Recession began to show signs of its seriousness coming down the pike at lightening speed towards us, companies began to look at mergers as a survival tool. Together companies could more readily competite in a world market that was becoming very challenging. Companies everywhere seems to be preparing for mergers and takeovers by window dressing. Window dressing is when a company hires a multitude of executives to appear stronger and more strategic therefore, becoming more attractive to suitors.
iddle managers are once again being viewed as a key role because they can manage diverse responsibilities at a closer level and act as catalyst for change. Middle managers offer an incentive to their employers by performing job functions and not just look at spreadsheets all day as many executives are required to do. These managers also discover auspicious opportunities because of how close they are to customers and employee cost saving production finds. If our economy improves, we will experience a demand for middle managers as many existing middle managers who survived downsizing and executives retire.
Being a middle manager is not easy. Employers need to recognize the demands placed on these people and demonstrate appreciation for their efforts because they are an integral part of a companies ability to more quickly positioning themselves through necessary change. One on one development is actually more important at the mid level than it is on the front lines because these people are the best suited to be future leaders and should be developed. We already know that these middle managers already posses Emotional Intelligence which we all know is paramount skill for an upper level executive.
Corporate America has moved away from the value of promoting from within. We have hired others from outside our companies looking at them as if they were more valuable with greater shine. What is valuable is right in front of our eyes! When we hire from outside the company, new hires often times bring in their own staff or other managers they know closing the door to development and promotion. We then are all faced with unhappy and unmotivated staff. Should we blame them for their sentiment? What happened to the song and dance about promotion from within that we sing loudly during the recruitment process? Is the grass really greener on the other side of the fence? Is there no value to someone that can hit the ground running and bring seeds fresh for planting?
Middle managers work hard and are often the unsung heroes. We need to provide them with incentives so that they do not just feel like an unrecognized work horse. Your managers are your spokesperson to your vendors and customers. They are your cheerleaders and messengers of the company’s vision. They translate complex directives into a possibilities motivate and provide an incentive to front line staff to execute and succeed.