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Management Quality has a strong impact on customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and the efficiency, productivity and development of the organization. The overall responsibility for management quality lies with executive management, but they often leave it to the HR function to put policy, programs and processes (methodology) in place. But policy and programs must be implemented in the line organization, mainly through middle managers (managers of managers).
Middle managers who fill this role address all critical success factors pertaining to management quality. They are role models who interpret and represent the established management policy and make it alive to their reporting managers and their staff. They are key persons in communicating and tracking different kinds of goals and in making information flow up and down.
Their responsibilities include:
* identification of candidates for management positions
* appointment of new managers
* introduction of new managers
* management development, in particular coaching of managers (development within the framework of regular and daily activities)
* motivation of managers
* termination of unsatisfactory management (though an excellent job in the areas mentioned above should minimize the need for terminations.)

The middle manager role has frequently been declared "extinct" and/or redundant in modern organizations, and reduction of staff has taken a severe toll among middle managers. Unfortunately, the decision makers often forgot that the management quality tasks then must be handled in some other fashion.

This key role of the middle manager is rarely well understood, but compare it to the role of the newly appointed manager. The new manager must change his/her ways of going about the business. Rather than achieving results on his/her own, he/she now must do it through the excellent performance of the staff. The manager must focus on maintaining and improving the total competence of the group and that of each individual. These are cornerstones of good management and a main theme in all new management education.
At the time of promotion to the middle management level the conditions are once again changed. The new middle manager now has to attain his/her objectives through efforts of the larger organization, and in particular by working through his/her reporting managers.

Compare the situation of the first line manager with that of the middle manager:

The manager must:

The middle manager must:

Develop employees and staff the group

Develop and appoint new managers

Introduce new employees to their tasks

Introduce new managers

Conduct appraisal and counselling

Appraise and counsel managers

Provide a motivating environment for his/her staff

Provide a motivating environment for managers and staff

Develop the professional competence of the staff

Develop managerial competence

Deal with underperforming employees

Deal with underperforming managers

Thus, the middle manager bears a great responsibility for maintaining and developing management quality. Many middle managers are not aware of this responsibility. Nobody told them about it
- and they were certainly never invited to middle management related education.
However, it is quite possible to provide such education. In larger organizations this should be in-house education, as "our policy and our culture" are base ingredients. All new middle managers should receive such education and in many cases senior middle managers have the same need, so the initial education could preferably cover all middle managers.

As part of an interview an experienced middle manager once told me about his ways to develop managers reporting to him:
"I make great efforts to be a role model, I discuss the importance of management quality with them, I give them personal objectives that cover all aspects of leadership and their respective areas for improvement, I give them all information I can and I try to have a good dialogue with everyone, including their staff, I coach them, I support, I help and influence them."
The managers I talked to confirmed this description.

Can you imagine any management development program with an impact matching this middle manager?


More information about development of middle managers is found in the book
How to manage managers.

Inutsikt AB 2003. This article may be reproduced or quoted, only when the source ( and this copyright statement is included.