Success Tips For Middle Managers
How can Middle Managers develop their skills?
Your organization counts on you to get things done. So how do you ensure your influence, as a Middle Manager, is enough to lead the charge? Are you doing the right things? Here are six important tips to create an environment that sets you, your staff, and your company up for success.
Gain the respect of your employees by knowing how to do their jobs well.
Managing an employee is not only about delegating, but guiding, supporting and helping them to get better at their job. There is no better way to achieve this than by showing them that you bring value through your own knowledge of what they do. The more they see you as an expert, the more respect they will have for you. This does not mean you should do their job for them; it is about sharing your knowledge, teaching what you know and helping your employee grow to a higher level. The discussion will also give your employee a chance to teach you what they know and provide an opportunity for you to encourage them further.
Understand the company’s strategy and create your own action plan.
Running the day-to-day activity is a big job. Often times we get caught up in what we have been doing for years and due to poor communication from our own boss, we don’t verify if what we are doing is still in line with the company’s current strategy. It is your responsibility as a middle manager to get informed on the company’s strategy. Push your boss for this information and verify if the way you are running things enhances the success of that strategy. You should put an action plan in place along with goals for your team that are supportive of the corporate strategy. Share both the strategy and action plans with your employees and your boss.
Set clear priorities and goals for yourself and your employees.
Your team should all be able to understand and communicate the priorities within your department. They should understand the goals you set for each of them and be expected to support each other in achieving both individual and group goals. You will achieve better success if you have all goals in writing. Be sure to meet with your employees regularly to review their status and make changes in your team if needed. Before you make changes in your team, look to yourself to help your employees succeed. Maybe you were not clear; maybe you could be doing something additional to support their success. Maybe training is necessary for your employees. Self-awareness is an important aspect of a great manager. Do not wait for annual reviews. Take the time on a regular basis to set and review goals and results. Hint…one performance goal you can give to each employee is how well they support the goals of others on the team. If it is expected of all employees, it should not improve their overall rating, but if they earn a negative result on teamwork, it can reduce that employee’s overall rating during his or her performance review.
Establish close relationships with middle managers throughout your organization.
There is sometimes a natural tendency to rule your own empire, set your own pace for your team and keep the rest of the organization out of your way. That may help with some short-term gains but it will not set you or your team up for success in the long run. As you lead your department, show them that you have allies throughout the organization so that support does not only come from you, but from others as well. If you can network with other middle managers, they can ensure that their teams support your efforts. Share your strategies and action plans with them and encourage them to do the same.
Learn to lead without authority.
Middle Managers have a lot of responsibility in the organization. Once you have reached this level, your career has the opportunity to grow either by taking on a larger department, managing more people or advancing into a senior executive role in the organization. It is also an area where many individuals stay stagnant because they have not taken the next step on their own; that step is learning to lead without the authority. Leaders advance in their careers because they are leaders before being given the title. It is a natural progression, however not one based on years of service, nor based on results in their current management job. Natural leaders cultivate people who respect and follow them, they get people to listen to them and act in support of them. If you, as a Middle Manager, can create this reputation for yourself throughout your organization, you will have an exciting future ahead of you. You will get noticed and you will get promoted. Leadership is not a natural skill for everyone, you need to adapt yourself and become skilled in the following areas:
- Arrogance is unacceptable. Maintain a confident and positive attitude humbled by facts and skill.
- Be diplomatic. Communicate WITH others, not TO others. That means listen to what others are saying. Try to understand their perspective and determine if they understand you. A great communicator speaks with someone to ensure his or her message is understood, and takes responsibility if the message is not clear. You should be able to tweak your message to ensure this understanding.
- Become a solution provider by being able to identify what is truly problematic, not symptomatic. If you take the time to work with others across job functions, create an environment that is inclusive, without blame and focuses on identifying problems and finding solutions, you will be seen as a leader as you champion those solutions.
Communicate up, down and sideways with vigor.
Share what you know, learn from others, champion good ideas and give credit where credit is due. Go out of your way to promote good ideas and people. Make a concerted effort to learn about and from your organization, your marketplace, your customers, your peers and your superiors. Share what you know and incorporate it into your work and the work of those around you. Promote your successes, and those of your employees. You can do this in the form of a weekly or monthly report that you share up, down and sideways. The more you communicate, the more you will be heard, seen and followed. Committing yourself to a regular correspondence is also a good motivator to continue to be proactive as a Middle Manager. Keep in mind that you don’t just share good news, if there are problem areas, share what you identified and what you are doing to fix it. Maintain a progress report on these issues.
What is a Middle Manager?
Middle Management is a group of individuals that run the day-to-day business, manage the largest number of employees and have the greatest ability to influence success of the company’s goals and targets. A Middle Manager typically reports to a company Director who in turn reports to the company’s Executive Leadership (President, Vice President or General Manager). Examples of Middle Manager positions include: Customer Service Manager, Sales Manager, Plant Manager, and Accounting Manager. Of course job titles vary based on the size or type of organization, but the resounding definition is that the Middle Manager does not provide strategic direction however he/she implements an action plan and manages it across their employee base.
I hope this perspective is helpful to you in your day-to-day life. Test out these concepts and share your results with us. Others can benefit from your experiences. Good luck!
Written by Lisa Woods, President Lisa Woods Consulting & Founder of ManagingAmericans.com
Lisa is a dynamic business leader & author located in Western New York with more than 20 years experience leading, managing and driving growth in the corporate world. Today she partners with business leaders to understand their vision, identify internal and external roadblocks, define a practical strategic path forward and guide a successful transformation. This work includes strategy definition & goal setting, organizational design, facilitating team buy-in, establishing visual metrics, internal and external research studies, business feasibility assessments, and investor insight into organizational strength, weakness & strategic opportunity. She helps business leaders drive growth & increase profits.
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