The hidden treasure — the middle managerFriday, April 23, 2021
Jacqueline Coke Lloyd
Our largest group of organisational influence is a group often overlooked. Middle managers comprise a large swath of the overall global workforce. In the US alone, nearly 14 million people identified their role as that of a middle manager, according to The Wall Street Journal.
In order for C-Suite leadership to implement strategic plans key to their critical and essential goals they must rely on middle managers to execute, implement, and create buy-in with employees across the organisation. A core function of a middle manager is to bridge the gap between C-suite executives and the workforce at large.
Insigniam's 2017 Middle Management Survey reveals that, while many middle managers are motivated by the type of work they do, dire issues exist among many of those occupying the middle management ranks. Namely, issues related to declining opportunities to progress professionally, a lack of the decision rights to get their jobs done, and a disconnect with the people to whom they report. The ultimate insight from the survey? The bigger and more plentiful the opportunity for making a meaningful contribution to the future of their enterprises the more potent and satisfied the middle manager.
A study conducted by associate professor at The Wharton School Ethan Mollick found that middle managers could have a greater impact on organisational performance than almost any other employee group in an organisation. The study also shows that middle managers are needed to help create innovations that lead to breakthrough performance in knowledge-intensive industries.
For the past 11 years, the Make Your Mark Consultants team has successfully embarked on equipping middle managers with knowledge and expertise to advance their skills in an ever-evolving and dynamic employment landscape, particularly through its annual Middle Managers' Conference. It has been established in research that middle management is an essential layer within an organisation, which has the potential to affect growth and productivity.
A recent study published by the Harvard Business Review for example, showed that several companies failed during a recent research which was aimed at assessing their ability to effectively lead change and innovation efforts. A meagre 32 per cent of companies were successful and this was linked to the involvement of middle managers.
I interviewed some of our local business leaders who gave their advice:
Jerome Miles, general manager, Rainforest Seafoods:
Senior managers must understand, too, that they have a responsibility to ensure that middle managers are given an enabling environment to deliver the results and quality output required. What you need to do is provide the motivation and resources and remove blocks for them. If they are having issues with cross departments, help them deal with those issues. You're really a facilitator to ensure that your middle managers perform well. The better your middle manager, the easier your life is going to be. Your roles and responsibilities are demanding enough already, so make sure you have good leadership and talent in that area. It is critical for both your success and the business.
Christopher Buckmaster, director of human resources, security and corporate services, JAMALCO:
I encourage middle managers to make sure that they do not simply try to copy their incumbent, but, instead, raise their awareness about new challenges, new technologies and innovation. This is the reason training is paramount. Will it be easy? Absolutely not, but with strong talent, disciplined focus, and teamwork you will be unstoppable.
I want to emphasise that your outlook as a middle manager is immensely crucial. You cannot have a narrow mindset; you have to be able to see the micro and macro picture and see yourselves as winners on any stage. Also, go read a book, nuh? You must become best friends with reading as you never stop learning. Continue to strengthen your skills and don't be afraid to lead.
Chorvelle Johnson-Cunningham, CEO, Sagicor Bank:
Any business that wants to achieve tremendous success must ensure its middle management team is fully equipped with the right tools and resources to perform and perform exceptionally as they play an instrumental role in balancing the organisation between senior management and line staff. Their role is pivotal to any organisation and should never be undervalued or underestimated.
It has become clearer over the years that greater levels of innovation, skill, and strategy are required if organisations are to flourish and thrive in this new decade. One area we believe this will be achieved is through effective leadership. In other words, the hidden treasure, the middle manager, now has to advance beyond managing tasks and giving instructions to becoming inspiring influencers.
Jacqueline Coke Lloyd is founder and managing director of Make Your Mark Consultants. She is a transformational leader, coach, organisation and people development specialist, and national productivity ambassador. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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