We don’t often hear middle managers called VIPs. If you stop and think about it, however, that’s just what they are. They are the people who can make or break an organisation.
They are the people who implement the vision of the organisation and who motivate and inspire their teams to work with them to make it happen. They build culture. They determine how engaged employees are in the organisation, how much discretionary effort they are willing to put in.
If we know this, then why is so little attention paid to their professional development.
You would have heard that comment by one senior executive discussing the value of investing in them:
But, what if we train them and they leave? Then the reply by another: Yes, but what if we don’t and they stay?
Too many organisations take the risk of not training them. The managers stay, because they are where they want to be, but the talented people under them leave. They don’t want to work with someone who is unable to motivate and inspire them, who cannot give them a purpose for doing what they do, who does not know how to create high performing and energised teams, who may still be stuck in command and control styles of management.
During the week, Sue-Ellen Watts wrote an article for Smartcompany.com – Why middle managers are crucial to the success of your business. She makes the point that we even have to step back a bit further and make sure we have appointed the right people to positions of management in the first place. She points out that the highest performing employees may not make the best managers. This is a point I’ve made often. Much of my work is with people who have been appointed to positions of management because they are highly skilled technically, but have no training or experience or skills in the management of people.
Sue-Ellen also makes the point that organisations need to identify their emerging leaders and work with them to develop them into the kinds of leaders the organisation wants. She has 5 tips for doing that.
- Map the future and recruit with your future plans in mind.
- Identify your emerging talent and invest in their development.
- Expose the emerging leaders to your vision and mission.
- Create a career path and success plan to retain high potential employees.
- Continue to invest in their development once they become managers.
So take action in your organisation. Make your middle managers feel like VIPs. Make them feel valuable to your organisation by investing in them. But don’t just send them off to random management training. Sit down with each of them and work with them to determine their strengths first of all and then secondly where they are presently most challenged. Find the training that will help them address those challenges, that will empower them to confidently lead and manage their people and get the best from them.