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How to become successful in middle management

Being a middle manager is challenging, here are some tips to help you excel in the position

By: The De Lacy Executive Recruitment Team

Are you in middle management? If you are, you will know that it is a tough role to play! 

As a middle manager, you feel pressure from not only top management but also employees that work directly for your team.

Middle management is sometimes overlooked within organisations, yet middle management roles are a very important component in your company's overall success.

It can be a stressful role to hold, whether you work for a large agribusiness or a small dairy operation, so we have compiled tips on how to succeed in middle management, including suggestions for managing stress.

Focus on your team's strengths

This goes for anyone in a management position, not just those in middle management: focus on your employee's strengths, not their weaknesses. Learn about each member on your team to determine where their weaknesses may lie, but more importantly, focus on their strengths and what they bring to the table for your team or organisation.

By focusing on weaknesses, you are bringing your team a step backwards. That is not to say that you should not recognise weaknesses, but you must realise that people only change what they want to about themselves, so it is important to differentiate between weaknesses that can and cannot be changed.

Shifting the focus to strengths will allow your team members to develop in the areas they excel at most, which is both beneficial from an employee retention viewpoint, as well as the performance of your team or business.

Remember, change in the workplace is never as smooth as anticipated - at the end of the day, people get comfortable in their role and do not like curveballs thrown their way. If you dwell on the areas where an employee is struggling, you may be negatively affecting their overall performance.

Plan and set team goals

After you have tapped into your employees' strengths and weaknesses, you can now set S.M.A.R.T. team and individual goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.

It is imperative to create team goals, individual goals, and personal goals for yourself to determine areas where expectations are being met and areas that might need more attention.

After creating individual goals with your team members, sit down as a group and discuss team goals. Before the meeting, outline some key areas where you, as the manager, would like to see the team develop. Get your team involved in the discussion as this is a great opportunity for everyone to collaborate and share ideas, and it will also give you a better idea of what your team is expecting.

Consider hosting monthly or quarterly team meetings to discuss progression of team goals, but also meet with team members regularly to discuss how their individual goals are progressing.

Recognize team achievements, not your own

Now that you are a middle manager, there may be times when you feel unacknowledged for your contributions to your team - do not take it personally, that's just part of the role. Be a humble leader and resist shining the spotlight on yourself.

Anyone who has been in a management position will understand and appreciate the contributions you have made to your specific team and the business.

When your team goals are met, celebrate with everyone involved - it will build up that team dynamic and shows individuals that their efforts are noticed.

Lead, do not manage

No one in the workplace wants to be micro-managed. Like you, they want to grow and succeed in their role, but to do that, they need freedom to work. If you manage every task that they are responsible for, you lose the uniqueness of each of your employees. After all, you hired them to bring an important element to your team. By leading your team members, they will be more willing to commit to both team and individual goals.

Great things can happen when you give your employees freedom at work but remember to keep an open line of communication.

How to deal with stress

Holding a management position can be very stressful, but do not let it bring you down! Just like your team members, you must have a proper work-life balance and develop ways to deal with stress.

To help with stress, do something that brings you joy - that could be going for a walk, reading a book, playing sports, or anything in-between. In today's digital age, it is harder than ever to separate your work and personal life - so put away those electronics and have a night to yourself.

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