At one point in my corporate career, I was a middle manager responsible for large teams. I was heads down executing the day-to-day work of the organization. There were substantial changes looming around me, and I had an idea that at some point, these would impact me, but I didn’t have the time to think about all this and keep the day-to-day operations moving forward.
I’ve noticed this condition in my consulting career. We sometimes do not pay enough attention to the needs of middle managers when organizations go through a major transformation. There is both a challenge and opportunity here.
The challenge is that, like me in my corporate career, middle managers tend to be so focused on running the day-to-day business that they don’t have time to think about the implications of transformation on their area. The opportunity is that when properly enrolled in driving the transformation, they are instrumental to long-term sustainability.
How do we enroll middle managers, and do we do it in a way that makes sense? Here are a few ideas:
- Assign them to lead business readiness teams. One effective way of enrolling front line employees is to assign them to teams which lead the implementation of the transformation in a given area of the business. These teams need leaders. Who better than middle managers associated with a function within the organization.
- Ask them to develop new metrics. Every transformation in which I have been involved has required new business measures to monitor performance. Once middle managers understand the nature of the transformation, they are among those most likely to be able to define relevant new measures.
- Have them rationalize process improvements. Because they are on the front-line, middle managers are well equipped to validate, adjust, or even discard proposed process improvements.
- Culture monitors. Gather their input on how they see the transformation will impact the culture; they have probably the best handle on how the transformation will impact the folks on the front line, how they interact with one another, and implications for the broader organization.
These are a few ways you can enroll middle managers in your transformation. The bottom line – this is not optional for long term, sustainable success.
Dedicated to your profitable transformation,