For a while middle managers were being squeezed out of organizational structures. Their presence was viewed as bloating the system and creating roadblocks to getting work done. Guess what. The tides are turning. The absence of middle managers left a crucial void in facilitating project workflow and maintaining order. They are not only being sought after but embraced by junior as well as senior levels. Surprisingly, in this Wall Street Journal article, high tech is at the forefront of welcoming them back.
This is good news for people who want a middle management career. Many mid-level executives I work with love their job and have no aspirations to move up to the top spot. A strong capable middle management is the backbone to an organization. Why is middle management of utmost importance to an organization? Three reasons:
- They are the lifelines to getting the work done. Whether a project or initiative is done on time and done well is reliant on the capabilities of a competent middle manager.
- They know what’s really going on within an organization. People are more likely to confide in them and share the truth because they are accessible and seen as one of them.
- They know how to work the internal systems. They have strong peer connections that aid in a project’s success – when to call in favors and how to avoid individuals who will be stumbling blocks.
Why do people relish their middle management positions? Three reasons:
- They like the work they are doing. They find great satisfaction in being able to directly impact and influence the output and the process.
- They like being able to mentor and coach people. Having the time to teach their people the business and leadership skills they need to succeed.
- They aren’t interested in the politics that exist at the senior levels. Either because they know they aren’t good at it or they believe too much time is spent “working the room vs. doing the work.”
Middle managers owe it to the organization to ensure they are adding value by being effective and efficient. Organizations owe it to the middle managers to ensure their efforts are being celebrated and rewarded. This will be an interesting trend to watch.