Survival Tips for Middle Managers
Middle managers have important, unique, and inherent challenges — to meet the performance expectations of not only those with more power (their boss), but also of those with equal and less power (their peers and their team). Alternating between relatively high and relatively low levels of influence can be exhausting. Especially if you’re new to management, trying to work “in the middle” is stressful.
Middle Managers Have Higher Levels of Disengagement
As part of our annual best places to work employee engagement surveys, middle managers often report feeling pulled in different directions by stakeholders with misaligned cultures and conflicting needs while simultaneously having to overcome ineffective and inefficient procedures to get real work done.
Sadly, middle managers, even the high performing ones, are almost always in the bottom quartile of engagement compared to their peers. And Columbia University recently found that managers and supervisors had a 33% higher chance of reporting symptoms of depression compared to their frontline workers.
5 Survival Tips for Middle Managers to Better Navigate their Way
Based upon data from when we assess organizational culture, we know that middle managers can make or break a company. Somehow middle managers need to lay a course for steering through the inherent challenges of their role skillfully and with a minimum of stress.
To accomplish this, middle managers can benefit immensely from the use of a 360-degree assessment tool before and after their new manager training program to understand how they are perceived by those around them.
Clear and aligned priorities also make it OK to NOT please everyone all the time and to minimize “crisis of the moment” management that creates confusion, inefficiency, and employee disengagement. You need to filter through what needs to be done importantly and urgently. Strategic clarity also sets the foundation for people to feel valued and appreciated — a must for middle managers and their teams.
When thinking about survival tips for middle managers, we thought about Emmy Werner, a developmental psychologist who studied a group of 698 children for over 30 years and determined that those who were “resilient” saw themselves as “orchestrators of their own fates.” In other words, they took charge of their achievements rather than acting as victims of circumstances.
To survive, middle managers must have the same mindset.
In fact, our organizational alignment research found that high performing managers had a 13.5 times higher rate of communication, transparency, and information flow than their lower performing peers.
Effective communication skills are key for middle managers to become better communicators and listeners.
The Bottom Line
Managing others is not for the weak. It takes a multitude of management development skills from communicating, delegating, flexing, thinking systemically, and influencing effectively. Are you helping your overworked and underappreciated middle managers bridge the gap between the frontline and senior management?
To learn more survival tips for middle managers, download 7 Immediate Management Actions to Create Alignment with Goals
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