They’re called middle managers for a reason. Middle managers need to connect with the base as well as with the top – not always an easy task.
Dr. Henry Mintzberg, holder of the Cleghorn Chair of Management Studies at McGill, was quoted recently in La Presse and Les Affaires, following the launch of his recently translated book called, in French, Gérer (tout simplement).
In these articles, professor Mintzberg mentions the importance for managers to be in touch with employees, emphasizing the important role middle managers play. “Large organizations need middle managers who have the ability to create bridges between senior management and employees … The unifying characteristic of middle management could be the key to avoiding gaps between concrete actions in the field and conceptual issues at higher levels, a problem that often occurs in organizations,” he explains.
Professor Mintzberg reinforces the importance for managers to reach out to employees. “In order to make the right decisions, managers must remain connected to the organization’s day-to-day activities and focus on the people who work in those organizations. What is key is the ability to listen, hence the importance of developing strong listening skills. We must listen to our people and accept that the most interesting ideas often come from workers themselves.”
Active listening is a core competency that many managers tend to overlook. Numerous studies point to the fact that the best managed organizations are those that encourage feedback from people who deal with clients on a daily basis and who know what works and what doesn’t. Often employees have solutions, but they don’t have a channel to share their idea or someone who will listen.
HR’s Organizational Development team helps managers to develop and enhance behavioral competencies that are critical when coaching people in these times of change. In the Leadership Development Program and in the context of À la carte workshops, participants tackle topics such as emotional intelligence, listening and effective communication, change management, managing conflict and team building. These skills and capabilities lead to a greater trust in managers knowing they can empower employees who will rise to the challenge.