The Middle Management see saw is a ride senior leaders all experience. Certainly, at some point in their career. Ups and downs. Flirting between senior management and front-line staff. Not truly knowing where they fit.
Should I be more hands on with the frontline team. After all that is where I began. Should I act like a senior leader? That’s where I aspire to be. The middle management conundrum. So many of our frontline leaders face this head noise daily. Lacking belonging and hence unable to effectively motivate the team towards the company Vision.
There are many reasons a business may lack traction on the front line. Today we take a closer look at practices to empower the Middle Management team to deliver business success daily.
C.S Lewis, a British novelist and Christian apologist once said “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” The first role of a senior leader is to trust their middle management team. Empower them by giving them your absolute trust. If we employ people with high integrity, trust they are doing the right thing by leading our front-line staff well. Trust them to make critical decisions, trust them to take action and trust them to share their doubts. Remember we have all had a turn on the see saw.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish”.
Effective strategic planning is a key ingredient for a high performing business. So often huge time, energy and effort is placed on mastering the strategic planning process. Understandably middle management are often oblivious to this process and don’t have a seat at the board table. Yet when it comes to gaining traction and measuring success, we know the Vision for the organisation must be felt by all employees. More-so lived daily. In all that we do the Vision should be front and centre. Little wonder it sits as the number one priority on any strategic plan.
Repeated at every opportunity. We want middle management to be able to share the company Vision through story-telling. Using various examples to keep the Vision alive and make digestible no matter which group of staff they are guiding. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Its little wonder Richard Branson said “Being a good listener is absolutely critical to being a good leader. You have to listen to people who are on the front line”.
He understood the value of great middle managers. Profound coming from one of the greatest business minds of our generation. Richard sees the benefit of customer opinions. Feedback shared by staff, being heard by effective middle managers, who in turn ensure a customer focused strategic plan and business. The middle management serving as the conduit for both the strategy and customer voice.
Knowing many of our middle management team aspire to be senior leaders, we should aim to give them exposure to that very realm. Searching for opportunities to invite them to the boardroom table. First as spectators to grow their understanding of the decision-making process. Then encouraging them to participate no matter the subject. The conversation focusing on why it is important they gain exposure to this space for their own development must follow. Secondly building confidence in our middle management team will increase decision-making capability and ensure the Vision has increased clarity.
The last point to share is middle management having the ability to paint a clear picture of what frontline success looks like. Firstly, senior leaders must take responsibility for sharing the Strategic Plan well with middle management and clarifying the tangible goals each team needs to achieve. Once alignment is achieved empower your middle managers to share the goals in a similar fashion to the Vision, story-telling.
Nelson Mandela once quoted “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”.
Keep it simple, empower your middle managers and watch them lead your business to success.