Thank you, middle management

Posted by Admin, Thu 24 August 2023
Middle managers are essential motivators and deal-makers in any healthy working environment.

The Evolution of Performance Management demands a vital layer of leadership. Organisations are leading not top-down or bottom-up, but middle-edge. It’s unfashionable but it’s the reality – and it works.

The traditional performance management system, with its focus on annual reviews and ratings, is becoming a thing of the past. Instead, companies are shifting toward a more agile and continuous approach to performance management, with a focus on ongoing feedback and growth. However, this transformation requires a critical layer of leadership in the form of middle management.

Yes – middle managers are vital to fostering talent. Yet in the age of agile and lean companies, and of performance and cutbacks, middle management is often derided and threatened. This recent McKinsey study argues for more time for middle management to be spent on talent, and to truly invest in this layer in the organisation.

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” – Phil Jackson, NBA coach

While the evolution of performance management presents significant opportunities for employees to grow and develop, it also creates challenges for companies in terms of managing and supporting this new approach. Without strong middle management, the potential benefits of this new approach may not be fully realized.

Middle management is often derided as unnecessary or bureaucratic. But in reality, it plays a vital role in ensuring that employees have the support and guidance they need to succeed. Middle managers are critical in translating company goals and strategies into actionable plans. Are CEOs going to provide ongoing feedback and coaching to employees? Not until the CEO replicates herself as a persistent personalised chatbot (that’s a few months away yet).

To fully embrace the evolution of performance management, companies should prioritize the development and support of middle managers. These leaders need investment, support and recognition. They are not the leaders of tomorrow but of today.

The training in coaching and feedback, the ongoing skilling in technology and data-driven tools, helps middle managers get the most not just from themselves but from their people.

Time for the organisation to turn to middle managers and say thank you. Then demonstrate how they are going to be empowered to do more. After all, don’t they really run the business?

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