January 12, 2005
Excerpts: High Impact Middle Management - Part IV
In any organization, there are two kinds of middle managers. There are those who get the work done but never think beyond what needs to be completed in the short term. They rush from one task to another, never quite recognizing which is most important to their companys larger objectives. Though they may work hard and have good intentions, they fail to see the big picture and, thus, add little value to their organization or the functions they manage. Then there are high impact middle managers. High impact middle managers see the big picture. They know how to manage operational practices and execute tactical goals to support strategic initiatives. They add value to their organization and thus elevate their position from that of middle man to key player.
There is an almost magical synergy in a work environment when a high impact middle manager operates at peak efficiency. Their questions are timely and on target; their ideas are provocative in ways that help move the work forward. They know how to think strategically. Transitions from one task to the next seem choreographed. As they walk through the office, their demeanor is calm but with a sense of urgency. Busy, focused, and driven, these managers produce results and imbue the workplace with energy. Those who watch these managers may feel motivated or intimidatedbut they are not unaffected.
Although their days are full, they have more time at their disposal than other middle managers who produce less. Thats because effective middle managers use tiny pockets of time to accomplish big things. They plan well and anticipate whatever is coming their way. When they do make a mistake, they quickly solve the problem and learn from the experience. These middle managers are effective because they understand what they need to do, methodically do those things, and adjust quickly and proactively when barriers pop up or conditions change.
Unfortunately, most middle managers have never experienced this kind of productivity. They spend their days trying to catch up, never mind moving ahead. Barriers and challenges bring their productivity to a grinding halt. They focus on the urgent rather than the important. Disconnected by a lack of communication with their peers and managers, their work is no longer aligned to achieve results, and team members lose sight of how their work influences the organization or why it even matters. Results suffer because the middle manager and his or her team are not set up to deliver them.
It is heartbreaking to see smart, hardworking, and well-meaning managers fail. Unfortunately, in todays ever-changing and competitive work environment, it happens all too often. Success is most difficult for middle managers because their role is more complicated and challenging than the roles of either frontline supervisors or senior executives. Even so, middle managers can experience peak performance with the right guidance, development, and support. To do so, they need to learn the craft of middle management and overcome several challenges that can wreck their capacity to perform.
A great middle managerreferred to in this book as a high impact middle manageris an individual who makes substantial qualitative and quantitative contributions to his or her organization and moves work forward with velocityspeed and direction. The high impact middle manager can straddle several planning periods to address the needs of today, this week, this month, this year, and the next few years. He or she understands the difficult and complex nature of his or her role and feels energized by being the conduit linking corporate thought, action, and results. High impact middle managers get it. They know that their job is the most exciting for those who relish being in the thick of things.
This book offers a vision of high impact middle management and a system for achieving this superior level of performance.
High Impact Middle Management, or H.I.M.M., is a management system created to provide busy middle managers with an integrated set of practices and techniques that maximize results and success. This is a distinct system because it addresses corporate execution and success from the perspective of middle management. H.I.M.M. recognizes that middle management is the engine for corporate results and offers regimens and practices to ensure performance.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.