In theory, managers are accountable for their team members’ level of engagement. Higher engagement leads to greater productivity which typically translates to increased profitability. In Navy Seal teams, middle management (mid-level to senior enlisted) drives the culture and performance of the team. They don’t just “manage” in a traditional top-down manner, but rather act more like coaches. In the civilian world, the story is much different. According to a 2018 Gallup poll, employee disengagement remained high at 66% (between disengaged and actively disengaged.)
Here are five remarkable reasons great leaders make the investment of time and resources to attract, develop and retain rock star middle managers.
They know the numbers. Great organizational leaders understand the connection that experiences, behaviors and actions (culture) have on results, So, if the company needs to take X actions to achieve Y results, there must be powerful and passionate middle managers keeping their teams fully engaged in the mission.
They understand the “passion problem.” When employees don’t understand the purpose of the organization and what impact they could have, they rarely find deep meaning in their work. In high-performance teams, people take pride in even the most mundane tasks, because they are led by managers that over-communicate the vision and how those tasks lead to mission success.
They avoid star-player sabotage. We continue to utilize an age-old practice of taking our top performing subject matter experts and forcing them into management positions. What great leaders do is find the right people (those who have deep passion for the brand and the ability to coach, inspire and lead others), place them in the proper roles and develop the heck out of them.
They love a good ROE – Return on Engagement. When making the proper investment of time and resources (internal and external), great leaders know the ROE is potentially limitless, but if we aren’t linking culture and behavioral alignment to P&L, none of this really matters. Even when a return on the investment of leadership and management training exists, if this piece isn’t understood there is no benchmark for success.
They Know Development Matters. Not only do the right programs generate great results but the action itself shows the team that the leaders care about them – care about their growth. The secret is finding the right programs, tools and curriculum for the right people at the right times, as well as using a data-driven approach so customization of learning priorities is achieved.
Are your middle-managers helping or hindering your progress? Which of these five strategies could you put in place?
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