Are You a Mindful Middle Manager? In your position, you may be responsible for one or even a team of middle managers. After reading this article, you may even classify yourself as one of the notoriously well-intentioned, (but sometimes mediocre) middle managers.
What defines the mediocre middle manager? They are the managers who get the work done but don’t think beyond what has to be completed in the short term. They rush from one task to another, always working hard and with good intentions, but in the long run, they fail to see the big picture; what’s most important to their company’s larger objectives. Although they may be dependable when it comes to short deadlines and heavy workloads, they add little value to their organization or the functions and people they manage.
Then there are mindful middle managers. They see the big picture. They know how to manage operational practices and execute tactical goals to support strategic initiatives. They add value to their organizations and thus elevate their position from that of middleman to key player.
Here are some examples of what you can expect from the mindful middle manager:
- Ownership – They assume direct responsibility outcomes, taking the initiative to make things better, doing whatever it takes to get ideal results, versus simply acting as a custodian to a project or process.
- Being active – Takes the initiative to get things done and isn’t easily deterred by setbacks. Immediately identifies any barriers and implements an affirmative plan.
- Generating – Is able to generate new and better alternatives and carry them out. Doesn’t get stuck on how things are done now.
- Influencing through enrollment – The mindful middle manager is able to demonstrate and convey a plan in such a way that others see and take on the vision for themselves.
- Practicing quality dialogue – Communicates with the intent of making a difference or moving a topic forward.
High-impact middle managers are driven to make things better. They’re proactive, understand their definitions of success, and are alert to the obstacle course they face as they help everyone move ahead. Mindful middle managers also foster accountability-based teams, departments, or organizations. Accountability takes a step beyond responsibility. Responsibility is a felt obligation to act within an organization’s values, whereas accountability adds that you can be called to answer for your own actions.
In an accountability-based organization, the onus is not only on direct reports (and their reports) to be accountable, but also on managers and executives to produce a culture that fosters accountability in its employees. This can be scary at first, but will pay off in the long run. So, how do you get started? By taking the time and effort to provide a combination of clear, specific, measurable goals for your direct reports and the tools, time, support and training to go along with those goals, directly impacting professional presence and personal effectiveness of all team members.
Mindful middle managers foster an accountabilty-based culture. Read through these attributes to help you get on track with an accountability-based team:
- People understand what they and others are accountable for and are called to account if they don’t meet expectations– there are consequences. Therefore, managers work with their direct reports to define clearly what the direct reports can and cannot do.
- People understand their own and others’ boundaries and decision-making authority; at the same time, managers encourage their direct reports to exercise discretion and creativity within the defined boundaries.
- Managers are aware of the current and future potential capability of employees and provide appropriate career development and mentoring to help them reach their potential.
- People are given enough decision-making authority to carry out their work.
- All employees understand how their own goals help the company achieve its strategy.
Essentially, in an accountability-based company, everyone knows what’s expected of them and by when; regardless of whether they are sitting in the staff or management section of the stadium. Clear expectations and accountable results give us all a better sense of direction. In the words of Stephen Covey: “Accountability breeds response-ability.”
Learn about Employee Development Systems, Inc. We are “The Accountability Company.” We have been addressing and resolving employee development, inter-generational, professional presence and personal effectiveness issues in corporations for over 30 years.