Middle Managers Are Worth Millions…

…If you see their potential and help them grow.

Here is why: It can be hard to communicate a lofty idea from the top board down to the people at the root of the organization. Sometimes the purpose and importance of your strategy simply gets lost as it trickles down and is implemented. This often happens because the perspectives from the top and the bottom are highly different – we don’t always speak the same language.

Many studies have shown that the human factor is the key reason why we get stuck. We can have all the plans, products and strategies in the world, but not always succeed. 

This is where the middle manager comes in, as the link that creates a clear line of communication and understanding. Not only that, but they are also the people that the moneymakers (those at the frontline of your company) want to show up to work for. They are the faces of the implementation of a new concept or structure or project. They are the ones who daily create both FIRE (engagement) and SHIELD(safety) to drive the organisation further. They are the ones that foster talent.
In other words: They are at the core of any successful transformation.The millions lie in helping them create a space where they can optimise their skill. This is done by creating a work environment where:

  • The division of tasks is clearly visible
  • Accountability is applied to everyone
  • Inclusion is key
  • It is safe to speak up

So, remember to constantly assess yourself on these four areas, and if you don’t live up to your own expectations, step up. We promise it will be worth the effort.

Case: A survey about what middle managers actully do

When you think of a middle manager, the stereotypical picture that comes to mind is an overbooker of meetings, someone who doesn’t take responsibility, hopes no one asks what they are doing or someone who lives on the frontlines of bureaucracy and is always too busy with forms and paperwork.
But this is far from the truth!

A McKinsey study on manager performance from March 3rd 2023 shows how the 984 participants (from a wide range of industries, company sizes and functions) spend their time.

Time is a precious resource – we all prefer to spend it on tasks that moves us forward, that creates drive and that we are passionate about. However, this study shows that: “…respondents say they are spending nearly one full day out of every week on administrative work, and more of their time is taken up by tasks we refer to as individual-contributor work than any other area (Exhibit 1)”.

Case study conclusion:
There can be many things that factor into this problem, however one of the key aspects here is delegation. Helping middle management restructure the time they spend on administrative tasks creates free space to focus on strategy implementation and working with and inspiring change for their frontline workers.

Leadership tip #1: Leave your laptop in your car

It seems almost too simple. And maybe your first thought is, “But I need that, for the meeting and work and …”.

The point here is to practice delegating. One thing that can way a middle manager down, is taking on too many tasks, that clutter the mind and ability to focus and makes little room for the actual managing part of the middle manager position.

Not bringing your laptop for a meeting means that you must delegate. And that sets off a chain reaction:

–> It means that someone else gets to excel at that task that might be mundane and an afterthought for the middle manager

–> Which means that your prioritization creates more value

–> Which also makes the people below you feel seen, heard, respected, and valued.

And that value is worth millions – it can be actual currency, but it can also be goodwill, great employee relationships, great workplace dynamics. And that is a good thing to have in abundance when a crisis hits.

Case: HOLMRIS B8 lifting the middle manager role

One of our clients is HOLMRIS B8, the leading design and furniture company. During the last nine months they have been participating in an ongoing Fire & Shield leadership training, tailored specifically to the needs of their middle managers.

The purpose was to strengthen their business, build up people and capabilities as part of their strategy execution, and to create a clear flow of communication throughout their company through a strong leadership community.

We did so by designing a leadership program with specific focus on strengthening the leadership skills of their middle managers. We gave training in Fire & Shield along with other classic and contemporary leadership tools and creating a stronger sense of community across the company through internal networking groups.

This August we ended on a high with a full day workshop for the entire leadership community. A day full of training, discussions, and learning from each other. To share ideas and perspectives. From there, the leadership community and the established internal network groups will take over.

Autumn inspiration

The autumn season is upon us and that means that school is back in session. Here we mean the school of life – and what are you going to study this semester? We suggest one of our books Andre Menneskers Tid og Andre Menneskers Penge or Nomadeledelse. They are available both online and in a bookstore near you!

Thank you for reading along

We appriciate your time! Let’s give our middle managers a pat on the back next time we see them – for the great work that they do. And if you face any challenges or problems on that account, don’t hesitate to reach out – we will happily tailor a soloution that fits you and your companys needs.

Kind regards

Johnny & Elize