Unlocking the Potential of Middle Managers: A Must-Read for Belgian Companies

As Belgian businesses navigate the changing economic landscape, it’s essential to reevaluate our approach to middle management. Recent findings from a Harvard Business Review article shed light on why eliminating middle managers may not be the best solution, especially in lean times. Instead, by reimagining their roles, we can tap into their potential to help our organizations thrive.

Middle Managers: The Glue that Holds Enterprises Together

Middle managers, positioned close to the ground but not too close, play a vital role in steering companies through rapid and complex changes. They are the glue that holds teams and enterprises together, fostering inclusion and psychological safety for employees to thrive. In times of uncertainty, their contribution becomes even more critical.

The article reveals that companies investing in the development of human capital, including middle management, enjoy impressive returns on invested capital (28%) and experience more sustained revenue growth during challenging periods like the pandemic. Moreover, they are four times more likely to achieve superior long-term financial performance.

Middle managers can act as valuable MVPs for Belgian companies in several areas:

Adopting to Automation

With increasing automation, businesses face the Great Rebundeling—reconfiguring work tasks. Middle managers, armed with firsthand knowledge of what happens on the ground, are best equipped to lead this effort.

Winning the War on Talent

Attracting and retaining top talent goes beyond salary. Middle managers, understanding their teams’ unique needs, can craft personalized working arrangements that resonate with prospective employees.

Nurturing Employee Development

Middle managers’ close connection with their team members makes them effective coaches who can identify and address performance issues early on, creating a motivated and engaged workforce.

Showcasing Purpose and Compassion

By connecting employees to the company’s purpose and demonstrating compassion, middle managers elevate satisfaction, commitment, and overall performance.

Leveraging Data Smartly 

Middle managers bridge the gap between data and implementation, ensuring data-driven activities enhance performance while avoiding bias.

Empowering Middle Management: Strategies for Senior Leaders

Belgian companies must reimagine the role of middle managers, providing them with the necessary support and training. By empowering our middle management ranks, we pave the way for business success and sustained growth.

As we explored the insightful article from Harvard Business Review, we uncovered essential strategies that senior leaders must implement to empower and uplift middle managers, ensuring a thriving and resilient organization:

Embrace Autonomy and Flexibility

Top executives must abandon the old command-and-control style of leadership. Empowering middle managers with autonomy and flexibility allows them to focus on their core responsibilities and elevate the work of their teams. By eliminating low-value administrative tasks through automation or reassignment, we can unleash their true potential.

Identify Critical Managerial Roles

To harness the full power of middle management, it’s crucial to identify the most critical roles that generate significant profit or involve high risks. Thoughtfully select managers based on their unique skill sets and expertise, tailoring them to specific roles that best suit their capabilities.

Spot the Influential Managers

Pinpointing influential managers is essential to drive strategic decision-making. Conducting surveys among employees can help identify the “critical few,” those who possess influence and high value within the organization. Involving them in key decisions amplifies their impact, turning them into influential megaphones.

Encourage Networking and Collaboration

Managers who are smart and innovative, albeit less influential, can significantly contribute to the organization when given the right opportunities. Encourage them to join networks that foster idea generation and execution. Connecting them with more influential colleagues can further fuel their motivation to shine.

Reshape Managerial Evaluation

Move away from purely revenue-centric evaluations and reward managers for taking on challenging assignments, regardless of immediate financial gains. Create a comprehensive scorecard that includes team performance, diversity, attrition rates, succession planning, and employee engagement. Clearly define the desired behaviors and prioritize them in evaluations.

Uphold the Managerial Purpose

Ensure that the organization’s clear statement of purpose aligns with the managers’ purpose. Communicate that managerial roles are not mere way stations but coveted destinations. Promote the managerial track, move managers to high-value roles, and offer substantial rewards to retain top talent.

Foster a Culture of Sharing and Speaking Up

Encourage managers to share best practices and learn from one another. Create a culture where managers feel empowered to voice concerns and identify systemic problems proactively. Prioritize open communication and create an environment of psychological safety.

Extend Compassionate Support

Acknowledge the challenges and stress that managers face. Surveys show that they are among the most depressed and stressed workers. Provide support, encouragement, and resources to ensure their well-being and professional growth.

At Beanmachine, we believe in the power of effective middle management, and that’s why we find this Harvard Business Review article so relevant to our Belgian customers.

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