Our report, The Middle Revolution: How Middle Managers Are Pushing to Make Workplaces Better, captures the real role of managers in the workplace. The pop-culture stereotype of the middle manager is an ardent defender of the status quo.
But we’ve found the exact opposite — mid-level leaders are valuable change agents in their organizations. Hiring and retaining quality managers is crucial for businesses that want to run more efficiently and encourage innovation. Here’s how these anonymous superheroes are transforming the workplace:
Paul Osterman, professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, is the author of The Truth About Middle Managers: Who They Are, How They Work, Why They Matter. He said in a recent interview with Harvard Business Review that managers are crucial components to the healthy functioning of any organization:
“We’re not going to get away from a situation in which large organizations, or medium ones, produce the goods and services that we need in our economy, and . . . you need managers to make those organizations function.”
While executives are dreaming big, managers translate those dreams into reality. They’re the ones responsible for assigning roles, meeting deadlines, and allocating resources. They may not look or act like rock stars, but they’re quietly getting things done.
02. Employee engagement
Our research shows that managers might be the most-important players when it comes to motivating your team. 70% of all employees said a mid-level leader has used some kind of employee engagement strategy. Out of the remaining 30%, a majority reported that they’d prefer that a manager handled employee engagement.
Managers have an incentive to keep their finger on their team’s pulse. If a talented employee leaves the company, they’ll feel it the most. They want their best players to stay for the long term.
Middle-led employees are also more satisfied at work in a number of ways, according to our research. They have a better work-life balance, feel like the company is more responsive to their feedback, and are less likely to say that they’d leave for a 10% raise.
03. Making decisions
In today’s world of less-rigid hierarchies, managers have more responsibilities than ever. Talented managers should be entrusted to determine how the company’s strategy is incorporated into its everyday functions. After all, managers know their employees the best. They’ll know who will fit into what role and how to take the best approach. Managers are often a company’s strongest problem solvers because they deal with practical issues every day.
They’re also the liaison between executives and employees. Managers have to switch between both worlds on a regular basis and communicate the C-suite’s ideas to the whole team.
Hiring and retaining excellent managers will be mission-critical for today’s businesses. They’re the linchpins of your organization in everything from motivating employees to organizing projects.
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