As anyone in middle management will tell you, it’s one of the most challenging jobs you can take on. It’s necessary to balance different stakeholders’ expectations and simultaneously act as a leader and follower. You need to lead your team and motivate them to meet their goals.
Despite all these challenges, what makes middle management so challenging is also what makes it rewarding. Keep reading for detail on some of the specific obstacles middle managers face and how to overcome them.
Being constantly judged
In middle management, you’re always under the spotlight, and people will form opinions based on your behaviour and performance. Therefore, it’s critical to understand their expectations and manage them appropriately. Open communication and regular feedback can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure everyone is on the same page.
Moreover, don’t be shy about sharing your achievements to gain more visibility and earn the trust of others. You don’t need to brag about every little success but discuss your accomplishments and your team’s. The more visible your achievements and successes are, the less likely people will view you negatively.
A lack of leadership and management training
You’re not alone if you’re a middle manager without formal leadership and management training. Being promoted into a middle management position without having received leadership and management training is a common problem. However, a lack of skills and confidence in managing and leading people can lead to mistakes, avoidance of important decisions and a failure to tackle poor employee performance.
Don’t let a lack of confidence in your leadership skills hold you back. Invest in focused management training and leadership development to enhance your skills and performance. Start by reflecting on your performance and seeking feedback from your manager and team. From there, you can create a leadership development plan that includes training, mentoring, coaching, or a combination. With the right tools, you can boost your career prospects and become a more effective middle manager.
Managing your time
Middle management can be challenging, especially when managing your time effectively. With daily responsibilities and long-term plans to attend to, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. However, you can manage your time more efficiently by prioritising your tasks and delegating some of them to your team members. Delegation is a great way to save time and provides your team members with professional development opportunities.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your manager whenever you feel overwhelmed. Remember, you are not alone, and your manager is there to support you. Identifying any barriers to your team’s performance is crucial, and discussing them with your manager to find solutions, can beneficial – even if it’s only as a sounding board. Don’t forget to involve your team members in the solution-finding process; their input can be invaluable.
What makes a good middle manager?
A good manager can make or break a team, and they set the tone for how employees engage with each other and accomplish their objectives. A great leader and middle manager possess similar traits and qualities.
Excellent managers and leaders encourage and empower their teams to succeed and develop. They always strive to get better and are willing to learn. Their effective communication skills ensure that information is shared throughout the company. In addition to being open about company objectives, they honour and reward exceptional achievement.
They allow employees the freedom to execute their jobs without micromanaging them. They strongly emphasise results and mentor team members to assist in achieving those outcomes.
Overcoming the challenges of middle management
Middle management is undoubtedly one of the most challenging jobs. It requires balancing various expectations and managing different stakeholders simultaneously. As a result, managers must develop multiple skills, including effective communication, time management, and leadership and management skills. Then, middle managers can overcome these challenges and deliver results for their teams and stakeholders.
Create a leadership development plan and invest in professional development interventions such as effective communication, time management, leadership and management training, executive coaching, or a more in-depth leadership development programme to help you overcome the obstacles of middle management.
While the role can be challenging, middle management can also be a gratifying experience when managers help their teams succeed and contribute to their organisation’s growth. Ultimately, a great middle manager sets the tone for their team, leads by example and motivates them to achieve their goals.
Author: Gemma Rolstone | Published 14th February 2022.