Re-inventing Middle Management

Posted on · Posted in Middle Management

Middle managers have received a bad press. Several surveys point to difficulties in the “middle” of an organisation. In the midst of questions about the effectiveness of middle managers, and cost reduction restructures that inevitably hit the middle hardest, perhaps the middle manager is on borrowed time?

Alternatively, have we created an impossible job for our middle managers, at the same time discouraging innovation and knowledge creation?

Middle managers have variously been negatively associated with:

1. Building their own empires

2. Acting as a “permafrost” preventing vision from becoming reality

3. Paper pushing bureaucracy

4. Relays, passing information up and down the organisation

5. Being the reason senior managers feel that change has not occurred

Old arguments perhaps need to be dropped. Is it time to see middle managers as pivotal to organisational effectiveness?

We think it is time to think differently about middle managers. There has been a plethora of negative imagery to describe (or decry) the role of middle managers. So, perhaps the correct response is to use some positive imagery to reframe perceptions of the role. In reality, they are central to the success of any organisation.

Middle managers are:

1. At the core or heart of the organisation.

2. Close to the “heart-beat“ of the organisation – close to what makes it tick.

3. The creative centre, where solutions can be crafted and implemented.

4. Crucial energy sources, helping to build and maintain momentum.

5. Critical change agents, uniquely placed to bridge levels in the organisation.

Perhaps it’s time to re-invent middle management, seeing them at the creative core of the organisation.