Toyota introduced the world to ‘The Lean Enterprise Model’ in 1948 for the manufacturing sector. It was in the 1970s that the model received a lot of attention and expanded beyond manufacturing, leading to the development of uncluttered hierarchical organizational structures. Since then, mid-level managers have grown in prominence and have taken over several tasks previously handled by the top management.
In work culture, a common notion that runs around is that the company culture starts at the top. The top management is responsible for undertaking changes and ensuring that the business adapts itself to the changing landscape.
However, the importance of mid-level leadership is no less. They are the champions who ensure that the entire workforce understands the reason behind the organization’s existence and helps them adjust to the changes implemented by the top management.
This article discusses the importance of mid-level managers for an organization and the skills to excel at being one.
Who are Mid-Level Leaders?
As the name suggests, mid-level managers are the individuals placed between entry-level managers and top-level management. They are the link between the workforce and the executives, and their performance can determine how the organization performs. The primary focus of their job is on organizational and directional functions.
In essence, the term ‘mid-level managers’ are Branch Managers, General Managers, and Department Managers. Here are the primary responsibilities of a mid-level manager –
- Recommending strategic changes for improved output
- Reporting performance of the workforce to the top management.
- Defining and monitoring the group-level performance indicators
- Designing and establishing effective group work and their coordination
- Establishing a performance-based reward system
- Supporting and augmenting cooperation within the workforce
- Catering to issues reported by the workforce
A mid-level manager is crucial for the higher executives as it eliminates the need for them to explain their policies and expectations to a multitude of people. It also alleviates the need for them to gauge performance continually.
A middle-level manager makes it easier for people placed lower in the hierarchy to voice their opinion.
What Makes Mid-Level Manager Training Unique?
The job profile of a mid-level leadership is unique. It is natural to be pulled in a variety of directions for several reasons.
Here is what makes the mid-level manager training so unique:
The middle-level manager’s relationship with power is complex, as they primarily thrive on interpersonal relationships. They have to resort to a deferential low-power behavioral style with the top management, but shift instantly to a more assertive high-power behavior with their subordinates.
It means that they are constantly juggling between being an employee and leading other employees. It leads to high sensitivity, meaning that if they miss out on making a timely switch, it can lead to confusion and social conflicts.
While being in the process of constantly switching roles, these individuals also have the responsibility of helping the workforce improve. It often pushes them to get stuck between different organization’s stakeholders and essentially gives rise to unwanted conflicts.
A mid-level manager training is unique in how it teaches these individuals to adapt and juggle between roles effortlessly.
Manage Emotions Efficiently
The expectations from a leader are far different from that of a subordinate or a person who reports to the top management. Still, the constant switching between dealing with the subordinate and being the subordinate themselves may often blur the lines. Such changing needs can cause inefficiency.
Research shows that humans find it difficult to ensure that their work behavior doesn’t get intertwined with their personal lives. When you are a mid-level manager, you have to juggle between roles continually, and it can be difficult to manage the right tempo every time.
It means that a mid-level manager training should be able to inculcate improved adaptability in the manager. Such exercise should also be able to help a manager understand and manage their emotions better.
Keys to Successful Leadership Training for Mid-Level Managers
A powerful mid-level manager training should be able to teach first-time managers and even experienced ones their responsibility. They must have excellent interpersonal skills regarding mentoring, motivation, delegation, and communication abilities.
If someone wants to be a successful mid-level manager, here are the skills they would need to inculcate:
There is always a high probability of finding a better way of doing things. Given a mid-level manager’s job profile, it is imperative for the training to inculcate the art of being innovative in their approach. It will instill confidence in the manager and ensure that they get things done quickly and efficiently. It also helps them find solutions to critical problems and improve the workforce’s efficiency since they find better ways to do the work.
Transparency is key to the success of any organization. If a company wants to be successful, the workforce and the management must have clarity regarding work, results, and team performance.
The training helps first-time managers understand the tools they need to apply to manage their tasks more efficiently. It includes day-to-day reporting to the top management and communicating the expectations to the employees. The training should help develop emotional intelligence and communication skills. It should also enable the managers to manage the constant to-and-fro and undertake efficient reporting.
The role of a middle-level manager comes with a diverse set of responsibilities. Not only do they manage their routine tasks, but they also have the responsibility of helping their team members grow.
Developmental coaching is one of the vital aspects of a mid-level managerial position. A leader is someone who not only manages a host of people but also helps them flourish. They should be on the employees' side and encourage them to perform more than their cent percent.
With middle-level managers being the crucial link in an organization, it is imperative for the top-level managers to bestow the role of developmental coaching to them. It will enable the organization to leverage the managers' expertise to augment performance, job satisfaction and improve engagement amongst the workforce.
Retaining and Engaging Talent
Hiring talent is easier than retaining them. If you are trying to build a sustainable business, having people who will be by your side even during tough times are the ones you wish to hire.
The ERC’s 2018 Workplace Practices Survey ranked hiring and retention of talent as the most challenging task for an organization. So it becomes essential for a mid-level manager training to inculcate the right techniques that would help them retain and engage talents.
A mid-level manager should understand the organization’s definition of its top talent. It will give them an insight into the characteristics associated with the best professionals in an ecosystem. They can then figure out the people important for the company and use the requisite tools to ensure that they feel at home and perform to their potential.
It is imperative for mid-level manager training to help individuals understand the difference between leadership and management. A manager is an individual who demands, whereas a leader helps his team by inspiring, motivating, and showing direction.
The execution of the strategies laid down by the top management depends on the mid-level managers. It also means that they will have to undertake strategic leadership and bring critical thinking into play.
A mid-level manager is not only responsible for adapting to changes. The company also bestows on them the responsibility to help the workforce adapt to the changing needs. With change being a constant around them, it becomes imperative for middle-level managers to handle their employees’ reactions and encourage them wherever necessary. An effective mid-level manager training should help individuals inculcate the habit of change management.
The importance of emotional intelligence has soared to a new height in the last few years in the business landscape. Thankfully, every individual can learn and apply it with the help of the right mentor. For someone aspiring to be a mid-level manager, it starts with delving deeper into oneself and the surrounding people to improve understanding.
Most training comprises DiSC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness) and MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator®) to help augment the social awareness quotient amongst individuals. These assessments help people understand the natural behavioural pattern of human beings. Individuals can then use the insights to help the workforce manage themselves better and improve their efficiency.
Emotional intelligence can also help manage conflicts and improve communication within the team.
Let Centum Learning Develop the Mid-Level Manager in You
Some people and organizations believe that the job of a mid-level manager is a passing one, i.e., they barely have any importance of their own and will soon be replaced.
But the truth is quite the opposite. Remember when Google tried removing its engineering managers only to realize their importance for their ecosystem. The case with middle-level managers is similar. They are the glue that binds the organization together, but their work on a standalone basis often goes unnoticed.
If we put numbers, Ethan Mollick at Wharton conducted a large-scale analysis of the computer game industry and found out that mid-level managers accounted for 22.3% of the difference in total revenue.
So it is imperative for organizations to focus on maximizing the potential of mid-level managers in their ecosystem. It is also the responsibility of the individual to unlock their true potential.
Well, one way of doing it is by subscribing to Centum Learning’s High Impact Mid-Level Leadership Development programs. Through these courses, we help organizations in building a high-performance middle-level leadership team.
Depending on where you are in your work life cycle, you can choose any of the following –
First Time Managers’ Program – It focuses on individuals who do not possess previous managerial experience.
Middle Managers’ Program – It focuses on individuals with some experience as mid-level managers looking to unlock ways to improve further.
Emerging Business Leaders’ Program – The program is dedicated to high-performing managers ready to take the next big step.
Click here to understand more about our offerings and request a callback.