BUSI 1315 2020-2021: Management Practice 2
|Part 2: Essay – detailed information
The essay: 2,000 words on the following question -
Discuss the complexity of the middle management role and discuss three key skills required to achieve good results.
You should devote about 800 words to the complexity of the role and about 800 to the 3 key skills.
In your answer think about the importance of financial results, internal structures, conflicting objectives, conflict with stakeholders, customers, and organization culture. Write about what skills they need (see course content) and explain how certain skills are necessary to achieve good performance. Use examples from organisations you are familiar with (you may use Unilever or Nestle from this course or any others you feel are relevant).
Middle-level management practices in hierarchical organisations where branch managers, team leaders or departmental managers are below the upper-level management tea. They are responsible for operational procedures in the organisation rather than actual decision making on how to operate. In this essay, the various complexities faced by middle-level management in terms of financial structures, internal organisational operations, conflicting objectives, stakeholder's management, customer dealings and organisational culture. For dealing with the issues of stakeholder conflicts, and customer retention, budget, organisational operations, internal conflict and structure or cultural factors in an organisation, skills are necessary for a mid-level manager that will be discussed in this section and how they can improve the performance within an organisation will also be analysed. In a hierarchy, middle management is a tough job, and a lot of time and effort is needed to manage the operations within the organisation and deal with employees, customers and other shareholders for the effective functioning of a business. Hence, conflict resolving mechanisms and dealing with the business complexities requires certain skills expected from a middle-level manager. In this report, the different complexities and ways to deal with them using the skills and knowledge for proper business regulation are n o ecessary, which will be the primary focus for this essay.
Figure 3: Three levels of management
Source: (Iedunote, 2021)
Roles played by middle managers
Role model: Supporting every feature of any manager’s position is the capability to direct, that is, to inspire others. Being a role model inside the company, a manager is considered to have the most influential designation. As they are given exposure to the staff, customers, and suppliers, they must also be a supporter of staff to the managerial heads. Therefore, the middle managers must put effort and perform aligning with the organisation's values and establish ethics that inspire the staff of the company to execute their responsibilities in the same manner. Providing the managers do not identify, comprehend, and have faith in their company’s idea will turn out to be ill-equipped to offer truly stimulating for the subordinates (Southampton, 2021).
Leader: A successful, efficient, and operative manager will turn out to be a good and empathetic leader for its staffs, as they would constantly sustain an emphasis on the productivities as their chief designation, which is also to ensure the forward-facing deliver (Southampton, 2021). Being a professional leader, the managers will not be likely or be a part of which front line, yet the manager will try to be the assessor, motivator, monitor, change agent, improver, along problem solver. Being a leader, the middle manager will also try to be accurately consumer-focused also instil this approach amongst the individuals included in the front line by rewarding decent outcomes and accomplishments.
Motivator: The middle managers also must be the motivator that will help its staffs and subordinates to stay positive and energetic while executing their duties; when the company recruits a new employee, the middle manager takes the responsibility to make them accustom to the new environment and familiarise with their colleagues. The middle managers must motivate and help the employees to learn from their mistakes and not criticise or bully them for the mistakes they make. Rather the middle managers must help the employees from overcoming their shortcomings and make them learn strategic methods of executing methods to minimise their mistakes (Southampton, 2021).
Skills need to perform the roles
A mid-level manager is expected to have certain skills in order to improve their performance and accelerate their personal growth and business outcomes. The skills can be identified as follows:
Communication skill- Any leader is expected to have a certain level of communication skill in order to establish effective communication with the stakeholders. A one-to-one dialogue is necessary to clearly state the job roles and what is expected from the subordinate team member. A mid-level manager can be a team leader whose job is to instruct about the roles and responsibilities of the team members. He must convey the message properly so that any gap is not created, leading to poor performance. Communication also occurs with the higher authorities, where a report is presented about the team and their productivity. Communication style must change accordingly with respect to the higher authorities or subordinates. A more subdued manner is expected when interacting with the boss and taking orders from them. A proper balance needs to be maintained between the top-level management and the employees, where mid-mangers play a vital role in the middle of the hierarchy. Power and control are vital aspects when hierarchy structure is addressed, and the style of communication changes according to the position of the person being addressed in the hierarchy.
Figure 4: Role of middle management
Source: (McGinn, 2016)
Communication plays a key role in interpersonal skill, and a manager with any level of degree or technical knowledge will not prove to be effective without interpersonal skill (Simmering, 2021). The different types of communication skills necessary for any manager are related to the ability to respond, listen carefully, responding to others, dealing with teams when collaboration and collective effort is need, negotiation skills and the ability to resolve conflicts (Inc, 2019). For a manager, it is of utmost importance to resolve differences and deal with any grudge of the employees. A mid manager is a person who conveys any message coming from the top level, and it is the duty of the manager to make it acceptable within the employees. Properly communicating and explaining the reason for any decision taken at the top level is an essential part of communication skills necessary for the manager to possess.
Performance Management skill- Performance management is an essential skill of any manager, and it also holds importance in the case of mid-managers. Performance monitoring, reviewing, and rating of the employees is done by mid-managers which will help in creating an accurate picture of the work progress and individual performance as well (Vulkov, 2021). Constant monitoring and reporting to higher officials are some of the important job roles of a mid-level manager. Delegating the job to the team and coaching or instructing them for the job will help in the successful functioning of the team. A team leader must set the goals and convey the message in the team for making the team aware and active about their job roles. Criticism is also a part of performance management where the leader will criticise the employees about their job in order to improve their way of work (Vulkov, 2021).
Stress management skill- Stress and anxiety are common to mid-managers as they constantly go through a role reversal process. They have to change their articulation process when dealing with employees and the top management level. They are the victims of constant pressure from authority and employees, and any change is conveyed by them to the employees. Any unacceptance and hostility towards the authority are faced by the mid-mangers, creating much stress for them. Stress management can be performed effectively by taking breaks, go on holiday, exercise and stress relief methods like staying connected to loved ones. A healthy and balanced lifestyle will help in motivating the team members and appear as role model to the team (Webber, 2018).
IT industry in India, including Infosys, Cognizant and Capgemini, are planning to lay off its employees primarily from mid-level managerial positions who do not have adequate technical skills (Manek & Nair, 2019). It creates an issue for the employees, and a drastic cultural shift in those organisations creates a hazardous situation for the managers. Organisational culture has a serious impact on these positions as a sluggish growth process can degrade quality, leading to failure and negative outcomes. Middle-level managers serve as a communication channel that bridges the gap between lower-level workers and the top management team (Hu, Zhang & Yao, 2018). In a proper organisational culture, the exchange of information is smooth and beneficial for the whole organisational operatives. However, dealing with top management and employee demands are some of the aspects that must be taken into consideration. A middle-level manager faces a complex situation when transparency among the two levels of hierarchy is not maintained, and they do not have enough freedom to speak about their difficulties.
The challenges of middle managers
Nestle is also facing a crisis regarding their production and manufacturing level as they have a lower number of employees and limited logistics constraints (Best, 2020). In such a crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, the financial results of the company are affected, and they are fighting hard to maintain their production standards. Mid-level managers are responsible for operating in separate product groups to handle a limited number of employees. The conflicting internal objectives of the organisations are affecting the mid-managers as they have to balance the situation and try to find out the best alternatives. Middle-level managers play a vital role in translating operational strategies in low-level operations, and they are the future of business who will replace the aging senior management team (Afolabi, 2019).
Another example is the Unilever management structure, which is divisional based on product type, geographic divisions, and corporate executive teams. The leadership team comprises the CEO and all the other executive officers of different sectors like Human resources, legal, finance, home care, marketing and communication, supply chain, research, and development (Young, 2018). The divisional structure of the organisation has several mid-level managers in each sector, and conflicting behaviour between the teams can create difficulties in the working procedures of each team leader.
The famous tech-giant Google once tried to prove that the mid-level managers are of no use and they are a necessary evil that is just a part of the bureaucracy. Google launched a program called Project Oxygen to prove that managers have no impact on team performance (MilSpec Talent, 2019). They wanted to move towards a flat structure without any manager, but they were proven wrong. It is the quality of a manager that transforms into a leader which affects team performance. Middle-level managers are defined as the management layer that implements the strategies and policies created by the upper-level management (Jones & Hooper, 2017). Hence, it is observed that mid-level managers are often criticised, and their importance in a company like Google was not recognised. Complexity is thus relevant in an organisational culture where their ability and skill to guide a team is not accepted, creating a sense of insecurity.
Managers different in different sectors
Private: Middle managers of private companies tend to formulate the decisions, communicate the new policies and strategies of the company to the employees. The middle managers in a private company mainly are the department managers (Itdassessments, 2019). The middle managers of the private companies also bring changes within the operations, which bring improved results to them.
Government: The middle managers in the government are the ones who look after the welfare of its population and ensure that they are being safe and enjoying all the laws that bring them equal benefits. The middle managers of government are the people's representatives or the local representative.
NGO: The middle managers of the NGO tend to inspect the problem areas within society and excavate the root cause of the problem and take strategies and actions to mitigate them and bring development and welfare to the society.
From the above report, it can be concluded that the role of mid-level managers in an organisation is tough as they face several challenges and obstacles in balancing their relationship with the two outermost layers of the organisation. The mid-level managers deal with several issues like stress, tension, criticism, operational difficulties, managing the team, implementing strategies and motivate employees to perform according to the organisational demands. Their work is challenging, and they need skills like proper communication and performance management for interacting with the subordinates and maintain liaison with the top level. Stress management is a vital factor as the job role changes and the way of approaching it differs. They have to juggle between the role of a leader and a subordinate which creates a lot of conflicting demands with respect to their job role. Effective leadership team management and performance management skills will help them in dealing with their problems and accelerate growth.