What is middle management?
Middle management includes all of the management positions in a hierarchical company structure underneath the top management positions and above the non-management workers. These managers generally answer to top management, those who have executive titles such as CEO or CFO. Middle managers are typically in charge of a specific office, branch or group of workers.
What positions are considered middle management?
Positions generally considered middle management include:
- Branch managers
- Store managers
- Regional directors
- Department managers
Common duties and responsibilities of middle managers
Middle managers handle everyday issues that come up at a specific business site or in a specific department within the organization. While top management focuses on overall strategy and long-term planning for the company, middle management concentrates on interactions with workers and the day-to-day functioning of a specific site, office or department within the company. Some common duties and responsibilities of middle level managers include:
- Developing and implementing day-to-day routines for a specific office, branch or department
- Monitoring employee performance
- Assigning and supervising specific work tasks
- Making sure that processes and procedures are in compliance with the overall organization’s guidelines
- Inspiring and encouraging employees to perform their best
- Coming up with ideas to improve productivity at a specific business location or in a specific department
- Recruiting and retaining hourly or salaried employees
- Interpreting the strategy of top-level management and translating it into everyday policies
- Allocating resources within a branch, office or division
- Reporting issues and performance up the chain to top-level management
Benefits of hiring middle managers
The main reason to hire middle level managers is to take the burden of employee management and everyday operations off top-level managers. For smaller organizations with a single location and a small staff, the person or team running the company can handle most management tasks. As your organization grows, separating out management duties into senior management and middle management can help keep everything running smoothly and ensure adequate supervision of multiple physical job sites.
Middle managers also put the big-picture plans of upper management into action. They are responsible for getting employees to buy into the overall company strategy and monitor whether things are working on a practical level.
How to hire middle managers
Whether you’re expanding into an organizational structure that requires middle management positions or replacing the manager of a branch or division, you need to find the right managers for each open position. Some steps to take when hiring a mid-level manager include:
1. Determine the management structure of your organization
Before you can effectively place people in management positions, you need to assess your organizational structure. This might mean creating new departments within your company, such as HR, sales or facilities maintenance, that were previously overseen by a single individual. It could also mean planning for future expansion by setting up a structure for regional or divisional managers once you have opened multiple physical locations.
2. Outline the specific responsibilities of management and employees
Middle managers coming into your organization need to know the responsibilities and requirements of each position in your organization.
3. Consider internal candidates
Employees who have been part of your business for a while might be good candidates for a middle management position. If you plan to go this route, prepare potential management candidates with increasing responsibilities before you create the new management role. This may mean starting out by hiring externally and creating assistant manager positions that give promising employees management experience before moving up. Establishing a clear path for moving up within your company keeps lower-level employees happy.
4. Ask the right interview questions
Prior to the interview, develop a short list of the most important things you require in terms of a manager’s outlook and experience. Not every great mid-level manager is right for every organization, so you should include questions to determine whether each candidate fits into your company culture. Ask about previous successes and failures to determine how a particular management candidate might deal with unexpected emergencies or challenging situations.
What makes a good middle manager?
Leadership, interpersonal skills, communication skills and the ability to delegate tasks are all essential skills for a good middle manager. Flexibility is also important since middle managers are the ones who have to deal with immediate events and unexpected emergencies. Facilitating skills, such as conflict resolution and employee motivation, help a middle manager deal effectively with employees on a one-to-one basis.
How do you manage a middle manager?
Managing a middle manager effectively requires an understanding of the power dynamics within your company and a willingness to delegate. The job of a middle manager is to handle daily tasks and issues so senior management can focus on the bigger picture, so you need to choose middle managers who can handle this level of responsibility without direct interference. Scheduling regular skip level meetings or updates lets you track a mid-level manager’s performance without getting directly involved on a day to day basis.
What skills do middle managers need?
Middle managers need solid decision-making skills and the ability to communicate with and motivate employees. The most successful middle managers are adaptable. They can identify areas that need improvement and implement the necessary changes quickly. Organization is another important management skill at the branch or regional level since middle management needs to set goals and develop ways to measure and record progress at the employee or branch level.