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Solving the Middle Management Breakdown

by | Accountability

I believe that when middle managers master management, the resulting breakthroughs are profound and sustainable.

In this episode, I’m going to share with you how to overcome what I call “the middle management breakdown”—the block that keeps executives’ dreams from being the reality executed by the front-line team members.

If you’re the kind of leader who worries that perhaps your managers act more like “individual contributors” and don’t do nearly enough to maximize the results of their team members, I’m going to give you some solid executable ideas to get some traction for your managers. You’ll find it very useful.

If instead you feel as though your managers are PROFICIENT managers, I’ll show you how you can build on that so they become high achievers—superstars who can drive even more performance.
Or, if you feel you are already doing great at getting your managers to manage AND you have a fire in your belly to always take it up several notches to be the best of the best, you are going to LOVE this session.

Sounds strange. But it isn’t easy to get managers to effectively manage. There are some predictable challenges:

  • First, they often don’t have “street smart” tools to manage people, situations, or processes, causing them to feel inept. As a result, they often gravitate back to doing the technical parts of their individual contributor’s roles where they can enjoy feelings of success.
  • Second, they quickly learn that not all people want to take their coaching. When a manager runs into those who don’t benefit from strong self-esteem—who deflect or become defensive when they are coached on their performance—that manager quickly learns to not put their hand on the hot stove. They’re “trained” to not manage by the very people who most need to be managed.
  • Third, because they are managers and not leaders, many lack the “why” distinctions of what you are asking for as an executive. They put the people under them into a mode of “doing” without the “why” too, and, as a result, things get screwy real fast.

Seems like these happen with almost all management teams in some way, shape, or form.

I’m now going to share three steps to help you have a breakthrough in whatever level of “middle management breakdown” that you’re experiencing so that you can rapidly get everyone and everything aligned in order to exceed your strategic plan.

Step 1: UNLIKE so many management theories and training processes that are based on conventional wisdom, your managers need to have some basic knowledge of psychology and how that applies to changing behavior. They need to learn how to take the complex and make it simple—breaking everything down to the simplest of steps so that people can execute quickly and effectively to get results and feel the joy of progress daily.

Step 2: One of the most meaningless tools ever developed in the workplace for improving performance is giving people a job description. Instead managers need to communicate to their team what the real purpose of each job is. And IF they are performing as a top 5% performer, they must know what the metrics are of performance and what the key roles, tasks and responsibilities are of a high-performer so that it is clear what good performance looks like.

Step 3: Teach managers how to align each person to what we discussed in step two as well as the new quarterly key initiatives from the strategic plan. Let’s face it, if you can get people doing the behaviors of a top 5% performer, they’re certainly going to increase performance for everyone who has that job. The skills to coach, celebrate, do one-on-ones and conduct quarterly performance reviews that tie to the strategic plan transforms performance.

So just three steps, really:

1) Help create simplicity from the complexity so people know how to win.
2) Then make it clear exactly what extraordinary performance looks like.
3) Follow that by getting everyone aligned with what the metrics, key roles and responsibilities are, and how they fit with the strategic plan.

By solving the “middle management breakdown” for good, you can reap the benefits of having each team member hit every goal and metric with consistency. You KNOW that YOU can hit all of your goals and metrics—and receive all the praise and personal satisfaction that comes with a job well done.

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