Recognize Middle Managers or the Joke’s on You
Often overlooked by senior managers, and largely loathed by junior staff, middle management has long been the punch line of many office-related jokes. But the reality is that these mid-level professionals serve at a critical point where a business’s vision and strategies are converted into tactics and results, and their engagement is a vital ingredient in ensuring the work is getting done. A recent study by the Human Capital Institute takes a deeper look at the factors of middle-management engagement through the eyes of 109 HR executives to determine if the rebounding job market might find many of these employees heading for the door.
The study finds that only 14% of respondents believe middle managers are currently fully engaged. Essentially, layoffs of top-earning senior executives have placed more responsibility, and fewer resources, in the hands of a group of people that are often ill-prepared for such transitions. They receive no additional pay, work more hours and are frequently overlooked in the areas of training and development leading to higher stress and lower engagement. Compounding the problem, they are also managers of junior level staff who suffer the effects of a half-on boss, meaning less direction, communication, supervision and productivity, and more stress and job disillusionment for everyone.
Steps can be taken by leadership to protect these valuable company employees:
- Create management-level training and development programs. Whether they are formal seminars or simple mentorship programs, providing forums for managers to voice their concerns and work through problems with knowledgeable colleagues will help them feel like they have support and understanding. Consider offering a new manager orientation for those just stepping into middle-management roles so they know what they can expect.
- Let them know they’re doing a great job. You may not be able to give them a raise, but you can mitigate resentment and reinforce positive behaviors simply by recognizing them and rewarding them for stepping up and taking on added responsibilities.
- Incentivize them to recognize and reward their employees. By offering the ability to acknowledge the accomplishments of their own team members though on-the-spot recognition, nomination and points programs, you give your middle managers a tangible means to showcase their earned authority while simultaneously reinforcing the positive behaviors of their team. And since strong team member performance comes courtesy of great leadership, the manager should dually be recognized and rewarded.
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