Middle managers play a critical role in companies as they are usually in charge of an array of day-to-day tasks, including executing strategic initiatives, managing teams, ensuring operational success and acting as a bridge between upper management and front-line employees.
Often expected to be ‘leading from the middle’, they have a direct impact on both company retention and culture. Yet our research has shown that one-third of C-suite executives don’t believe their managers have the expertise to be effective people leaders.
So what’s going wrong here? For starters, most middle managers aren’t trained in people management.
According to McKinsey research, middle management is often viewed by companies as a catchall, burdening managers with non-managerial tasks and organisational bureaucracy instead of enabling them to concentrate on their crucial role: nurturing talent.
However if provided with the right people management skills, good managers can foster strong team relationships and lead their teams to higher performance. But there’s more to it than just sending them to a management training course: middle managers need continuous support and upskilling.
Three Ways to Upskill Your Middle Managers
Implement Coaching and Mentoring Initiatives
Firstly, one way to foster middle management development is to pair them with experienced mentors and coaches. Mentors provide guidance, share their wisdom, and offer insights based on their own experiences. Coaches, on the other hand, help managers develop specific skills, set goals, and overcome obstacles.
This approach is particularly important when it comes to stress management as both can help managers reframe their thinking, identify alternative solutions, and introduce them to various stress management techniques and tools.
These may include mindfulness practices, breathing exercises, time management strategies, prioritisation techniques, and relaxation methods. By learning and implementing these techniques, managers can develop healthier coping mechanisms for dealing with stress, which will ultimately allow them to be better people leaders.
It’s no coincidence that all of our management programmes are expertly designed in partnership with our in-house integrative psychotherapist, to give your managers the tools and skills they need to become great people leaders.
Offer Training and Development Opportunities
Investing in training and development programmes by providing access to workshops, seminars, online courses, and coaching sessions that focus on leadership training for middle managers is a great place to start. These programmes can cover topics like team building, change management, decision-making, emotional intelligence and effective communication.
The latter two are particularly important when it comes to being better people leaders. Emotional intelligence training can help managers develop empathy, build stronger relationships with their teams, and navigate challenging situations with greater sensitivity.
And training managers on effective communication techniques (such as active listening, feedback delivery, and clear and concise messaging) can enable them to connect with their team members, build trust, and promote a culture of open dialogue.
That’s why our leadership and management programme here at PUSH focuses strongly on learning about how we express ourselves and how understanding these subtle communications is the key to great relationships and unrivalled teamwork. It provides managers with simple yet effective techniques to re-frame situations, manage emotions and maintain clarity of thought through conflict.
Foster a Supportive Company Culture
Fostering a supportive organisational culture is instrumental in helping middle managers become better people leaders.
For one, a supportive culture creates an environment where they feel psychologically safe to take risks, express their ideas, and ask for help when needed. This sense of safety allows managers to be more open, innovative, and receptive to feedback, fostering their growth as people leaders.
What’s more, when a company culture emphasises support, trust naturally flourishes. Middle managers who feel supported by their line managers and peers are more likely to trust their teams and foster a collaborative work environment. They can delegate tasks effectively, empower their team members, and encourage cooperation, resulting in higher team performance and engagement.
Here at PUSH, our leadership development programme helps managers understand how to create rapport with their teams to build trust levels where loyalty, integrity and empathy sit at the heart of your interactions.
The PUSH Management Behaviours Programme
As a training and coaching partner, PUSH pride ourselves in supporting companies to prepare their people to thrive in this new era of work.
Put simply, we offer sessions and programmes across development, leadership, mental health and wellbeing - taking a holistic view of what it truly means to make work better. Our Management Behaviours Programme, for example, is a clinically-developed solution that equips managers with the necessary skills to cultivate, prioritise, and strengthen both communication and relationships in the workplace in order to unlock their teams' maximum potential.
Our programmes have helped over 80k people across 85 different companies like Sainsbury's, TikTok, Facebook, Google, HSBC, Spotify, EE, PHD Global and Rightmove.
We’ll leave you with some feedback we received from the Global People Director at The BodyShop:
“Working with PUSH has been a highlight of my year. It has been brilliant. We are receiving so much positive feedback from our programmes. THANK you - I am already considering how we collaborate in the future.”