You’re scaling up, and the organizational machine is becoming harder to handle single-handedly. Here comes the tricky question: Should I hire a middle manager?
The answer is more likely yes than you might think.
Middle managers are the invisible gears that keep your business machine well-oiled and running smoothly, translating your grand vision into achievable goals for your team. Let’s delve into why a middle manager is critical to your organization’s growth and success.
A Middle Manager’s Responsibilities
A middle manager functions as the crucial intermediary between business owners and frontline employees, ensuring the seamless translation of strategic goals into practical tasks. Understanding a middle manager’s multifaceted roles is essential when pondering what one could accomplish for your business.
At the heart of a middle manager’s duties lies day-to-day operations management.
For instance, in a retail store, a store manager might have to skillfully navigate a holiday season surge. They organize employee shifts, manage inventory, and liaise with suppliers to ensure the timely arrival of products.
A middle manager like this bridges the communication gap between the owner and frontline employees, ensuring everyone is aligned with the organization’s objectives. A manager accomplishes this by distributing tasks, maintaining a timely standard for accomplishing tasks, and reporting progress to the business owner.
Middle managers are responsible for nurturing their team and transforming underperformers into star contributors.
To illustrate, imagine a software development manager in a tech startup notices a talented yet underperforming engineer on their team. Instead of reprimanding, they arrange a one-on-one meeting, identify the root cause of disengagement, and reallocate the engineer to a more challenging project, reigniting their motivation.
This form of constructive feedback, recognition of achievements, and fostering of a robust work culture are essential undertakings for a middle manager.
Middle managers are adept at conflict resolution and decision making.
A good example is a production manager in a small manufacturing firm. When a crucial machine breaks down, they quickly devise a plan involving alternate production methods, then they present this to the owner for feedback. Their swift reaction minimizes losses and keeps production timelines relatively on track, balancing their department’s needs with broader organizational objectives.
While managing routine tasks, middle managers are also expected to participate in strategic planning and identifying innovative growth opportunities.
An illustrative case is a brand manager at a consumer goods company. Noticing a trend towards eco-friendly products, they propose a new line of sustainable products and an accompanying marketing campaign. Their knack for noticing new opportunities and their proactive project planning keep the organization competitive and prepared for future challenges.
Middle managers, therefore, play a significant role in implementing strategic initiatives and promoting change, making their role invaluable in a growing business.
Discovering an Exceptional Middle Manager
You’re not just looking for any middle manager. You’re on the hunt for someone extraordinary – an individual who’s going to take your business to new heights. But how do you spot such a person among a sea of candidates? Here’s what to look out for.
Ingenious Problem Solver
A good problem solver thinks beyond the “firefighter” mindset.
As Chip and Dan Heath illustrate in Decisive, excellent problem solvers consider a multitude of options before settling on a course of action. They realize that one solution doesn’t fit all and are adept at widening their lens to view problems from multiple angles.
Your ideal middle manager can foresee obstacles and create a tapestry of solutions that keeps your business nimble and prepared.
In The New One Minute Manager, Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson highlight the importance of clear, timely communication.
Good communication bridges the gap between top-level decisions and front-line execution. The standout middle manager can make these two worlds coexist seamlessly, amplifying clarity and boosting overall engagement and productivity.
Masterful Time Manager
Stephen Covey’s classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, gives us a valuable lesson – focus on what’s important, not just what’s urgent.
A superb middle manager embodies this mantra, seamlessly balancing a multitude of tasks while never losing sight of strategic goals.
Emotionally Intelligent Leader
In Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman argues that the ability to navigate emotional currents is a significant aspect of leadership. A middle manager with high emotional intelligence can read and respond to their team’s feelings, creating a positive work environment that drives performance. They don’t just manage, they inspire.
Remember, even the best managers can be better, and that’s where Deliberate Directions comes in. Our executive coaching services are designed to enhance these key qualities in middle managers, creating stronger, more dynamic leadership within your business. By incorporating insights from popular business books and proven real-world strategies, we help middle managers not just to meet but exceed their potential.
Empowering Your Middle Managers
While middle managers can be a boon for your organization, they also face several challenges. Being sandwiched between upper management expectations and the realities of their team’s capabilities can lead to high stress levels.
Additionally, balancing multiple projects with differing goals can create conflicting demands on their time and attention, making prioritization a challenge.
To help middle managers overcome these hurdles, follow these best practices.
Set Clear Expectations
Ensure that your middle managers understand what you expect in terms of performance, leadership, and communication. Providing clear metrics and keeping them informed about any changes to your expectations helps keep everyone aligned with the company’s goals.
Offer Development Opportunities
Invest in ongoing learning for your middle managers. Whether through training programs, workshops, or mentoring, these investments contribute to your organization’s overall growth.
Foster Collaborative Communication
Encourage your middle managers to work collaboratively. Regular team meetings and one-on-one check-ins can promote an atmosphere of open communication. This strengthens team relationships and boosts overall performance.
Build Strong Relationships
Understanding your middle managers’ motivations, strengths, and challenges enables your managers to provide personalized support and guidance to team members, leading to higher engagement and performance.
Grant Decision-Making Authority
Empower your middle managers to make decisions and take ownership of their roles. Granting them a certain level of autonomy boosts their investment in their roles and increases their confidence in decision-making.
If you’ve been contemplating whether to hire a middle manager, it’s worth considering the multitude of benefits managers can bring to your organization.
Acting as the linchpin in your organization’s structure, middle managers need the right professional development and support to thrive. By focusing on and investing in these individuals, senior leaders can create a culture of growth and success that benefits your entire organization.