If a business were a sandwich would the true meat of it lie in the middle?
Increasingly businesses are realising that the skills of their middle managers can make or break their performance. A raft of recent reports has highlighted how the lack of adequately trained managers is damaging the competitiveness and responsiveness of many businesses.
As a result the skills needed for a middle management role are increasingly in demand as companies play catch-up. Effective training is essential to reveal your commitment and develop the skills that will ensure you can meet the challenges.
What will you take away from your choice of middle management courses?
Here are 5 key skills that are needed by successful middle managers today.
Change management skills
The ability to communicate, respond to and implement change is central to the middle management role. Mergers, acquisitions, new products or services, relocations and redundancies are a fact of life and change is central to modern business survival. Indeed, organisational and operational change is now a constant norm rather than an exception to the rule.
Middle managers are often best placed to manage employee reaction to change and to offer the support and encouragement that is necessary to implement it effectively. Effective training can make sure that they can reduce the shock of change by preparing the ground for it and helping it bed in smoothly.
Alongside the hard realities of operational knowledge, soft skills come to the fore in the middle of the business hierarchy. Leading change, identifying and managing resistance to it and ensuring that deadlines are met are just some of the tasks that middle managers will have to take on.
You’ll need to communicate with senior management and with direct reports on a daily basis: the chain of communication goes both up and down from where you will be sitting. A high degree of emotional intelligence and good communication skills are needed to engage teams, keep individuals on side and negotiate expected outcomes with those in senior roles.
As a middle manager you act as the point where actual results and company goals meet, so it is essential that you have transparency with regard to work, results and team performance. Your training needs to give you a thorough understanding of the tools needed to report on these.
What’s more you will need to understand how to report up as well as report down. Your reports must be suitable for the headlines and forecasting required in the boardroom and for honest appraisals of your team’s work.
Setting and achieving goals
You will be expected to meet your own Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), so an ability to prioritise is essential alongside time management skills. You will also be expected to develop KPIs for your own teams and identify any training needs, or other support, they may need to achieve these.
Of course, important as managing change, reporting and meeting KPIs are they are fairly reactive skills. In today’s climate what is crucial to organisations is recruiting middle managers who can help them identify better ways of working.
Perhaps the most critical area of your middle management courses will be the ability to help you develop an innovative mind-set.
For most companies innovation is a critical skill to find in middle managers. It is what will differentiate them from the competition and allow them to deliver a superb service at superb returns.
“A barren innovation pipeline increases the risk of long-term competitive disadvantage. Companies who have dropped the innovation ball will find their fortunes sagging.”
Scott D. Anthony and Leslie Feinzaig
Yet, the challenge here is that if an idea is genuinely innovative, there is no way you can know its likely outcomes, least of all put forward a business case based on predicting its ROI.
The effective middle manager must not only look for new ways of working, but they must also learn how to test and assess them and to develop the confidence and negotiation skills to create space for them within the business.
Finding effective middle management training courses
The middle management role offers exciting challenges for those with the skills to step up to the plate. Take a look at the range of middle management training courses we offer and give us a call to talk about how we can help you gain the skills today’s businesses are looking for.