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Developing Your Mid-Level Managers


Mid-level managers have a great impact on company performance. In fact, HR rates middle managers as the most critical level of management , and 48% of HR executives rank mid-level managers as the role that needs to be the most up to speed. However, a recent study found that 58% of managers didn’t receive any management training. Moreover, only 10% of middle managers feel well-prepared for the challenges their business is facing. It is critical to develop manager’s skills.

In this blog, we have listed some key skills that mid-level managers need.

1) Understanding the role

Managers don’t need to know all the answers, but they do need to be able to facilitate the solution – they must be able to develop a plan, get the boss’s approval, and move it forward. However, lack of coordination and lack of delegation may be hard for first time managers.

Solution: In order to have managers understand their role, organizations must support the transition of middle managers to their new role. There should be a formal onboarding program to facilitate their success in their new leadership role. Effective practices include (1) developing a 100 day plan for new middle managers, (2) providing continuous feedback and (3) creating clear performance management goals for middle managers as needed.

2) Communication

Communication is a core leadership skill, requiring both active listening and the ability to think and express ideas with clarity. Managers who communicate poorly or at a mediocre level fail to secure the support they need from their bosses and fail to secure confidence and trust from their teams. In fact, 3 in 4 employees see effective communication as the number one leadership attribute. Yet, less than 1 in 3 employees feel like their leaders communicate effectively.

Solution: Effective communication for a first time manager can be challenging – managers should start with choosing the right communication channels and tools (Slack, email, etc). Communicate often using the appropriate channels and encourage input and questions from your employees!

3) Empathy

Research done by DDI (Development Dimensions International) found that empathy is a “critical driver of overall performance” for management. One study found that 77% of workers would be willing to work more hours for a more empathetic workplace; meanwhile, 60% would actually accept a decreased salary for the same. In that same study, 92% of HR professionals note that a compassionate workplace is a major factor for employee retention. Bottom line: empathy has a direct impact on employee productivity, loyalty, and engagement.

Solution: Developing an ’empathic’ workplace overnight is not simple. Start by focusing on building a relationship with your employees – this can partly be done by having honest and frequent conversations. By having these frequent conversations, managers will begin to understand the characteristics, behaviours and the leadership styles required on their team. Develop the skills of your employees by coaching them, giving effective feedback, and recommended training courses.

Want to hear more about developing your mid-level managers? Make sure to check out our podcast about developing your mid-level talent.

Have another skill that you think is essential for middle management? Let us know!

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