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The Frozen Middle - Accountability Measures for Middle Management

Over the past decade, middle management has felt a strain in the hierarchy of business management. Columbia University research says “individuals near the middle of the social hierarchy suffer higher rates of depression and anxiety than those at the top or bottom.” With no room to grow and increase in workload, middle managers have become frozen. As business owners, it is imperative to strengthen your employees’ skills and ensure they’re growing professionally and mentally. It’s time to help move middle managers...

What is Middle Management?

Middle managers are the translators of a company. Have you ever been in the middle of two friends fighting? Did you relay messages to each side and get blamed for not executing them correctly? This is a direct representation of middle management -- those at the center of a hierarchical organization: subordinate to senior level management but above the lowest levels of operational staff.

Middle Management professionals have many functions and roles. Middle managers are responsible for working and communicating with both top and low-level managers. As upper management makes demands, middle managers relay those demands to lower management. When lower management files complaints about those demands, middle managers relay the complaints to upper management. Middle manager = the company mediator, messenger, negotiator, and problem solver.

According to Strategy + Business, how middle managers are typically passed over for promotions, which directly impacts how they perceive their importance to the organization. An excellent example of middle management is from The Office, an American sitcom that gives a glimpse into the worklife of a paper company. Main character, Michael, works as a regional manager and leads his team while also reporting to corporate. Often he feels “stuck” because he’s unable to bring both sides to one agreement. “Leaders need to be aware of when these behaviors happen and try to understand the reason. They are missing an opportunity if they fail to see the skepticism or “stuck-ness” of middle management as a cultural issue that can be addressed and solved” (Strategy + Business).

How to Support Middle Management Using Measures of Accountability

There is always room for improvement at every level of management. Here are two ways you can improve your middle management through accountability measures:

  1. Create Targeted Training

When working for a long time under a company, managers run the risk of getting burned out and losing motivation to engage in work. Fortunately, HR professionals can help prevent burnout. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, training for skills gaps, facilitating coaching, and building personal relationships are three ways to train middle managers. When training is delivered, it improves processes and helps the company grow. As a business leader, you can facilitate training and give middle managers the skills needed to continue their leadership. An advantage of targeted training is that it creates an informal support network encouraging managers to put their best foot forward -- helping to better understand how their projects, responsibilities, and more fit into the company as a whole.

2. Build Relationships

Take time to build relationships with your middle managers -- establishing credibility and trust between the parties. If your middle managers have someone to trust and feel supported by upper management, they will mimic or model this behavior to lower level management. This then creates a domino effect of trust within your business and develops a more supported and motivated environment to work in as a team.This has a direct impact on retention, morale, performance, and results while also improving the growth potential of all employees at levels within the organization.

Internal marketing and caring for your most important audience, which is your employees, is a big part of developing or growing a company. Encounter Your Potential has the experience and success track record to aid in moving your middle management forward.

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