How to Think Like a High-Impact Middle Manager
High-impact middle managers approach situations in ways that yield success. They understand the link between beliefs, actions, and results. Their thinking is often aligned with large objectives, and their productive actions naturally lead to positive results. According to Haneberg, managers must examine their own beliefs about success in order to become high-impact managers. A manager’s definition of success is the collection of beliefs that they hold that affects how they manage. These include:
* beliefs about how success is achieved
* beliefs about what success looks like
* beliefs about what is expected
* beliefs reinforced by past successes and failures
* comparative assumptions about what has made others successful
* beliefs, whether positive or negative, passed on by their role models
* beliefs not readily admitted or recognized until examined in detail
* beliefs that can be changed instantaneously
High-impact middle managers share similar beliefs about what success means and how it can best be achieved. These skilled managers believe that all managers are expected to:
* Be accountable and take ownership of whatever needs to be done.
* Think creatively and proactively. Skilled middle managers take the initiative to improve their performance and the performance of their team.
* Be outstanding role models. Middle managers influence the culture and tone of the business, and therefore they should take their role seriously and remain professional at all times.
* Execute work and deliver results by using productivity measurements and process improvements as tools to monitor, manage, and enhance results.
* Understand that management is a social function as well as a business function. Middle managers should engage in positive dialogue that preserves and builds relationships rather than dialogue that destroys communication or results in isolation.
* Maintain flexible and successful teams. Managers must have their finger on the pulse of the company and know what changes in approach make sense for their teams.
* Recognize that their role as a middle manager is a key role within their organization. Middle Managers should want to spend most of their time managing and facilitating the work of others.
* Reframe their definition of success so that emphasis is put on accomplishments rather than status.
* Be open and flexible rather than defensive or combative.
In addition to adopting new beliefs and support goals, managers may need to discard old beliefs that are not serving them well. Asking the following questions will help them diagnose whether their current beliefs are helpful or harmful:
- Are results coming in as expected? If not, why not? What beliefs might be responsible for this shortfall?
- On average, how much time is spent being reactive versus being proactive? If more time is spent being reactive, why? What beliefs support a focus on reactivity?
- Have tasks been pushed aside, delayed, or ignored? Why? What is driving procrastination?
- Does feedback or criticism result in a defensive comeback, shutdown of communication, or combative posture? If so, why is it important to be in the right or to win?
- Who in the organization is a powerful and positive role model? What do they do that is so effective? Which beliefs would support these behaviors?
- Are all team members satisfied with their jobs? Are they frustrated or burned out? If so, why is this the case? As the manager, what is my role in fixing the situation?
- How enjoyable is middle management? If it is not satisfying work, why not? What new beliefs could improve job satisfaction?