Mid-Level Wizards – Why Unlocking Mid-Level Management Is Key To Business Success

By Chris Patton, General director at Original solutions

As we navigate an ever-changing business environment – ​​made more difficult by a seemingly endless state of international crisis and the Great Resignation – leaders of organizations around the world have been racking their brains over how to retain talent and unlock their teams. full potential.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to empower your team to succeed. Simply put, it is imperative to ensure that every level of your organization is empowered and supported to ensure that all the cogs are turning seamlessly. By fully understanding each individual, rather than treating the team as a mass product, you will empower your employees to be the best versions of themselves and do their best work. The catalyst for this is often a focus on instilling agility.

While agility originally revolved around technology, it is now a comprehensive philosophy that must be embedded in the very fabric of an organization. In the modern business world, being agile is best defined as “encouraging a work environment and culture that enables teams to be agile and adapt quickly to internal and external changes”.

Agile, when done correctly, can be characterized by a highly efficient organization with low cost, high productivity and high employee engagement, which will then lead to business success. High employee engagement is particularly critical. Nobody wants to come to work and do a bad job. When staff are treated as faceless entities, they begin to behave as such. More often than not, they’ll just show up, clock on, do as they’re told, then time it and go home. Their levels of commitment are nil.

But for it to succeed, the concept must be fully embraced by management teams; they have to show that they are doing it, as David Marquet says: “Push the authority where the information is, and not push the information up to the authority”.

Agile leadership and team members who are open to creating an agile work environment will help foster cross-functional teams, seamless connections between levels, and engaged team members. It is however very important that this is not confused with the lack of hierarchy or a “flat structure” within an organization – many have tried and failed with this approach, including Google. It’s about the leaders of an organization creating an environment that is flexible and empowered from the top down. It means unleashing and trusting the full potential of all levels within the team, especially the middle level.

In my experience, the more latitude you give a team, the more productive and agile it becomes. By encouraging senior management to embrace the views and allowing for contributions from the younger, more junior generation of workers who are involved in the day-to-day business, it can help unlock a company’s necessary needs for the help pivot and achieve business. Goals.

The Dutch home care organization Buurtzorg is a perfect example. It has approximately 15,000 employees divided into independent teams of 12 people, each made up of a mix of individuals and levels. Each team has full control of their operations – including budgets, business development, recruiting, profit and loss, and more. By implementing this strategy, Buurtzorg has experienced 30% higher customer satisfaction, 65% lower overhead costs than competitors and, most importantly, 50% less employee turnover.

The mid-tier, made up of managers, team leaders and supervisors, is often underestimated by organizations in their recruitment, transformation and structural thinking. However, in many ways, the middle tier is the company’s gearbox. By empowering them and giving them ownership of a mutually agreed-upon set of parameters, the team will move towards a clearly defined intent, which can lead to faster decision-making and give a company the ability to adapt or pivot more seamlessly. However, without proper investment, this gearbox stalls.

This group often holds the key to taking a business to the next level, as they are a source of knowledge in the midst of daily action. The middle level is an essential hub within any organization. Leaders can use it by making sure every level of the company knows exactly what’s going on at their level – from senior to mid-level to junior. Companies can then leverage this knowledge and create a unique overall picture of the organization and enable the team to respond accordingly.

Too often, the middle level is limited by an organization’s outdated internal culture processes and leadership behaviors. Forward-looking companies need to invest and reinvest in themselves in order to drive the future of today. Business owners ignore the mid-tier at their peril – unlocking it can lead to business magic. It is an essential pillar in the sustainability of businesses and has an important role to play in empowering staff to be more inclusive, adaptable and agile.

Early adopters, such as Buurtzorg, which began to transition to agile structures by establishing “team of teams” connections across all layers of the business, have done so with great success. Involving the middle tier more effectively helps create a culture in which teams can make decisions and tackle challenges independently and quickly. This gives these employees a greater sense of engagement and happiness, minimizes churn, and improves their chances of success.

In times of uncertainty, where no one can predict the next crisis, trusting and empowering your team at all times will provide you with the agility you need to outsmart the competition no matter the circumstances.

Brian L. Hartfield