Saturday October 16, 2021

updated - October 16, 2021 Saturday EDT

How to Transform Middle Managers into Mighty Managers

Sep 29, 2021 06:35 PM EDT | By David Thompson
How to Transform Middle Managers into Mighty Managers
(Photo : Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash)

Is your company full of Dilberts? That would be a middle manager with no initiative, creativity, or hope of advancement. They are the company joke, not the engine of progress. They are the people who nominally oversee departments where half their workers make more money than they do. This is a very common situation in sales departments. A talented and motivated sales person often makes more than the person in the manager's cubical. That salesperson is also a lot more valuable to the company. That kind of middle manager is mostly dead weight.

Even so, there are better things you can do than get rid of them. Before firing the underperforming, try firing them up. Quickly follow that up by addressing the learning and development challenges that are holding them back. Institute a program that helps you better identify and develop good leaders. If you have good leaders. Transform them into great leaders. In many organizations, middle management is where careers go to die. Again, this is typical in sales. Companies are hesitant to promote their best performers. That means that all too often, the one pushed into management is not the person who is most knowledgeable about the job. Here are a few ways you can make your middle managers a greater asset to the company:

Security Training

You cannot offload all your IT needs to a remote department. Your workers are constantly using the workstations to do their job in real time. Security breaches are seldom due to someone in the IT department making a mistake. They are due to ill-fated actions of the people with the most access to the workstations who also have the least knowledge of how to maintain digital security.

Your middle managers can be deputized to help with some of that security by enforcing password policies. They can be taught to reset passwords and check to make sure passwords are not scribbled on stickies and pasted to the monitors. There is also the matter of personal devices. Company equipment should not be used for personal social media. But people are going to be people. They will do their online shopping and perhaps a little day trading on office equipment. Managers can be more vigilant about making sure those types of activities are limited to personal equipment on the secondary guest network. The average worker generally doesn't know any better. The middle manager has to know better for the sake of your company. 

Sensitivity Training

Even the imperturbable Apple is not immune to trouble in the workplace. The AppleToo movement attempts to show that Apple also is having problems with sexual harassment and wage inequity. Many of the problems in corporate America and around the world could be averted with a little more sensitivity training for middle managers. 

There are many things said and done in the workplace that can be stopped before they take root if an observant and well-trained manager steps in and does something about it. That is not what is happening. Insensitive things are said and those things quickly turn into harassment. They might be harassment just by saying them. Managers shrug it off in a misguided attempt to keep from blowing an innocent remark out of proportion. Instead of ending the problematic situation, it becomes a lawsuit and a PR nightmare for the company. Every employee needs sensitivity training. But middle managers are the first level of enforcement, and arguably, the most important.

Employee Advocacy Training

Middle management is an awkward position because they are the ones in the middle of employees and upper management. The uppers have little contact with employees. Their only advocates are in HR. Middle managers are pressured to be the representatives of upper management. All too often, employees leave because they feel under-represented. They might have a small issue with accessibility. But the middle manager is not able to deal with it. Such issues are escalated. Instead of escalating every little thing, deputize your managers to be strong advocates for the people under them in the organization. It will produce happier employees. Happier employees make more productive employees.

Supercharge your middle management by training them to be the first line of defense with regard to data security. Give them better sensitivity training so they can recognize problems before they take down the company. And allow them to be better employee advocates for a happier and more productive workforce.

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