Managing Up: How HR can help coach middle managers

Middle managers play an integral role in a company’s overall success. Acting as a link between top-level managers and workers, they support initiatives and strive to get results. Unfortunately, many middle managers face endless challenges and aren’t always equipped with the skills needed to rise to the occasion. With the right approach, HR can effectively coach middle managers to help them thrive.


Offer Mentorship from Higher-Ups

This role comes with unique difficulties. On one hand, middle managers must appease senior managers and executives and ensure that their demands are met. On the other hand, they must establish trust and rapport with employees in order to maximize productivity. Therefore, it’s common for conflicts and miscommunication to occur.

One of the best things HR can do is provide ongoing coaching/mentorship from a senior manager or executive. One-on-one mentorship allows higher-ups to impart their knowledge and provide guidance invaluable to a middle manager’s success. The bonding and collaboration can do wonders for your company culture.


Provide In-Person Training

Middle managers require a reasonable amount of training in order to succeed. Studies show that current managerial programs are missing the mark for many companies. The Harvard Business Review reports, “67 percent of companies said they needed to entirely revamp their middle manager development programs.”

Online training is quick, efficient and affordable. However, this might not be the best way to train middle managers considering the role requires good communication and interpersonal skills.

In-person training strengthens communication skills and enables middle managers to build stronger relationships. Role playing can be especially helpful because it equips them to handle a variety of situations and deal with a myriad of personality types.


Set Clear Expectations

Executives and senior managers will set expectations for middle managers. It’s important for the expectations to be specific and detailed. Ideally, provide middle managers with clear-cut examples of what’s considered standard, above-standard and substandard. Providing examples for all key areas of job duties ensures executives will get the performance necessary from middle management.

Middle managers serve as a vital link between higher-ups and employees. It’s not always an easy job and is often fraught with obstacles. With the help of HR, you can effectively coach middle managers and help them further develop their knowledge and skill set. Their success should translate into your company’s overall success.



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