Develop Managers to Become Your Changemakers

Middle management is key to implementing organisational changes for better engagement and business growth. How can leaders tap this vital force?

24 Jan 2022 Articles Performance management Trending Best practices

In fair and progressive organisations, the leadership drives the culture – and employers recognise that middle managers serve as a key layer of leaders that connect and build networks to implement meaningful and lasting change and achieve organisational goals.

As companies become more reliant on virtual modes of management and communication, investing in middle managers as “connecting leaders” is increasingly vital. They are able to connect with the ground and possess operating skills, credibility and key networks within the organisation. Research indicates that middle managers are also the key to implementing changes.

When supported by the company through proper development and training, they serve effectively as the glue that holds the organisation together by inculcating a culture of collaboration. This in turn enhances a company’s key levers; efficiency, competitiveness, innovation and retention.

As such, middle managers are an indispensable part of organisations. Here are three tips on how to unleash and fully develop their potential: 

Tip 1: Identify Effective Champions

Choosing the right middle managers to champion your company is the important first step. Not all managers may be keen, committed or suitable to be the effective forces driving organisations. Look for proactive people – those who are driven and passionate about getting involved and offering help. Identify people who are knowledgeable in their field and are willing to share their expertise.

Also seek people who think outside the box and are open to exploring alternative solutions. They include those who are highly adaptable, as these people tend to be more collaborative. Lastly, managers with a high emotional quotient and good people skills are also valuable assets as they are likely to be dynamic and inspiring champions. 

Tip 2: Cultivate a Supportive Environment

Middle managers are bridges between many parties at different levels of the organisational hierarchy, managing both projects and interpersonal relationships. This can take a toll on their mental and emotional wellbeing, thus it is crucial for companies to provide support.

This can be done by facilitating conversations with them in safe, non-judgmental spaces to find out what their needs and challenges are, and then working together to better support them. As this is crucial for their success, companies may consider prioritising this group when allocating their coaching budget, rather than reserving it solely for top executives. 

Tip 3. Enable Middle Managers to Take on Strategic Tasks

Given the invaluable influence and skills that middle managers have as “connecting leaders”, they should be assigned meaningful tasks that are focused on their role of coaching and supporting their teams, which can in turn build higher performing and motivated teams. This may also mean reducing, outsourcing or delegating simpler administrative tasks to achieve this.

Give them the autonomy to identify solutions, as well as the opportunities and resources to implement them. Providing middle managers with sufficient training will help develop their skill sets and lead them to take on tasks that can garner better results for organisations.

As employers seek to implement fair and progressive practices, leveraging middle managers is key. When employers champion middle managers and provide them with the necessary support to handle both people and projects, both the company and individuals benefit greatly. An effective middle management can help to influence the workplace culture and drive fair and progressive practices and policies. 

The Fair and Progressive Employment Index (FPEI) is a free, online self - assessment tool that allows employers to evaluate organisational workplace culture and benchmark their practices against industry peers. The FPEI offers insights and recommendations on how employers can leverage their workforce for better business and employee results.