The Future of Organizations According to the Wall Street Journal
The future of organizations depends on skillful, empowered middle-managers. (WSJ – subscription required.)
- Motivate employees to act.
- Engage employees with purpose.
- Drive outcomes assertively.
- Paddle upstream successfully.
- Create accountability.
- Build relationships that foster trust, openness, and transparency.
- Choose productivity over politics.
*Adapted from Gallup
Google’s best managers:
- Don’t micromanage.
- Show concern for success and wellbeing.
- Drive for results.
*Adapted from re:Work
Roadblocks to successful management:
Being pulled from both sides disempowers middle-managers. Upper-management wants one thing. Front-line employees want something else.
The knot in your stomach comes from feeling pulled in conflicting directions.
Pressure for short-term success causes conflict between front-line employees and management. People grow weary of today’s “crisis” when they know another “crisis” is just around the corner.
Lack of authority to act on input disempowers middle-management.
Puppets or empowerment:
Don’t expect high performance when you treat middle-managers like puppets and front-line employees like tools.
Micro-management from upper-management paralyzes middle-management.
“… it is unreasonable to ask managers to solicit and encourage ideas and input from employees when they are not empowered themselves and are asked to focus on short-term outcomes.”
3 conversation starters for your next meeting:
- How might we give more autonomy to middle-management and satisfy the concerns of upper-management at the same time?
- What does an empowered middle-manager look like?
- What long-term goals might guide our actions today?
Confidence correlates with competence AND control.
Initiative requires autonomy.
Seeking input is futile when crisis-goals dominate organizational life.
“… managers in the low empowerment condition were 30% less likely to seek feedback from their employees than those in the high empowerment condition.”
What do successful middle-managers do that makes them successful?
How might organizations empower middle-managers?
Just a thought: It’s interesting that flat organizations are eliminating middle-managers.