The Challenges of Middle Management

When an employee obtains a promotion from an individual contributor position (no direct report) to a management position, in addition (or not) of his/her current position, it’s quite rare that the attention of that individual will be directed towards all the new challenges inherent to this new position.

Most of the time, quantitative / qualitative objectives are said but the challenges as a person, mostly not.

Most promoted keep in mind references of their past or present managers with ideas on how efficient (or not efficient) these managers have been carrying out this task. So it may be down to ‘doing as’ or ‘absolutely not as’ what they did.

On top of this, it is quite frequent that newly promoted managers will hesitate to share their difficulties when confronted with these unanticipated new challenges as they should be all-happy and all-competent with this sometimes long-awaited and long-desired promotion.

Here are some of the promotion-related challenges rarely identified in the entreprise or institution arena :

  • Grow :
    • Facing new responsibilities : evaluate direct reports, explain strategy, allocate quotas / objectives, monitor performance, support the team, hire, fire, …
    • Because of the new roles, relationships will change as the promoted person will be seen differently by former colleagues.
  • Power isolates :
    • The challenge here is to give up being seen by his/her former colleagues as a peer (equal) but from now on as someone to report to, someone who has the evaluation power, who has a more direct access to top management, who can be more informed, someone who grew up  the ladder.
    • So the relative positions are changing : a professor is not comrade to his students, parent is not friend to his child, a director is not peer to his reports. Decision-making power isolates.
    • As an example, one challenge is to renounce to obtain positive strokes from former colleagues
  • The Sandwich Syndrome
    • Being an individual contributor is one job, managing people is another one, being the relay between top management and individual contributors is another one so it is key to learn each role and acquire the capacity to switch between them.
    • Being in the middle between top management and managed people can create conflicting feelings that require internal flexibility.

 

The suggested coaching will typically span over 10 to 12 x 1-hr or 1.5-hr sessions and this overall process can be renewed once :

1. Exploration :

  • What representation (if any) does the person have of the new role ?
  • What positive perspective (gratifying) does he/she expect to face ?
  • What negative perspective (confronting / worrisome) does he/she expect to face ?

2. Identification :

  • Project oneself through role-playing games in future situations : I hire, I fire, I reward, I evaluate, I straighten someone out, …
  • Identify the experience and the operating dynamics in each situation

3. Resolution :

  • Discover options in each situation by mobilising the Adult Ego State*
  • Identify new skills (know, know-how, interpersonal) useful in the new role in addition to the ones that the person already has.

4. Anchoring :

  • Formalise the news skills in the ‘situation – problem – action – result’ process.
  • Exercise (train on) new useful relational & management techniques

5.Assessment : 

  • Retrospective verification
  • Work on real-life situations

To know more ont his topic, please use the enclosed contact form.

* Transactional Analysis term describing the part of the person in relation with the ‘here and now’.

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