Why Am I Picking On Middle Managers?
I’m not, but I do want to ask some searching questions. I want you to answer those questions. Normally in one of my articles I have suggestions, ideas and advice to offer, based upon my own experience or upon my academic studies. Not today. I just want to ask some questions. Bear with me, I promise it will be worthwhile.
As you think about growing your business you need to decide how you are going to expand. What you business structure will become. I want to ask a series of questions and explain why I think they are vital to ask and answer. I won’t be answering. That’s up to you.I just want to ask some questions. Bear with me, I promise it will be worthwhile. Click To Tweet
1. Why Is Your Company Structured The Way It is?
Most large companies follow a similar structure. Will yours fit the pattern? Are there small teams who actually produce/provide your product/service? They have team leaders or managers, who may be experts in whatever it is your teams do or they may be professional managers. They will almost certainly report into office managers or operations managers or production/shift managers.
These managers will, in turn, report to a senior manager in charge or a product area or a physical location. Now we get to a layer of management that may be product owners or operations heads or production chiefs. Whatever your business calls them they are the level just below executive or just entering the executive level. They report to an executive or vice president or some other form of senior company officer. Is this what you have in mind? Why? Who made the decision to have this structure? Was it decided upon or did it just grow and emerge? As you open more branches do you need to follow this model?
2. What Do Your Managers Do?
Managers are either engaged in the strategic planning of your business direction or in the tactical business of making product and serving customers. HR are strategic, as are product development. Team managers are tactical. Executives are strategic payroll and logistics are tactical. As your business grows, will there be any layers that are not engaged in either strategic or tactical operations?
3. How Do You Communicate?
If you set a strategy for your business, or even just for a product/service range, how do you communicate that? Does it flow down through management layers? Does each manager make a contribution or interpret the plan? Is your message enhanced or distorted by this? Can you communicate directly with team leaders from executive level?
4. Who Has The Ability To react?
When circumstances change for your business who feels the change first? Your front line team may well notice any change before strategic management do. Can team leaders effect change? Can they react to circumstances? Do only executives have the power to change company/product direction? If strategic plans start to damage front-line operations who can react? Who can feed back and is the feedback loop effective? Does your strategic management react to shop floor reports?Conversely are your front-line teams slow to adapt to new working methods?
Will you have dedicated trainers who can effect change for you? Will you rely on team leaders and operations managers to make the changes? Are these the same managers who have always worked in the old system? Do they understand the need for change and how to implement it? Thinking of this now, before your business reaches maturity could help you avoid problems of stagnation in the future.
5. Do Your Managers Enhance Or Obscure Communications And Reactions?
Everyone needs to feel they make a contribution, that they are important. Are your managers creating delays just so they can have their say? Are your management teams effective in enhancing your business only to have their plans overturned at the strategic level? These can be serious problems in large companies. As you grow ask if you can structure your business to avoid creating these problems in the first place.
6. How Are You Managers Chosen?
Is your business a meritocracy? No, but is it really? Are some of your leaders in position due to length of service? Do you have layers of management that exist just to give promotion opportunities? Is this an effective use of your company’s resources?
7. Do You Need All Of The Managers You Have?
Could your business resources be better deployed? What is the opportunity cost of having your management teams and having all of the competing points of view? Would your business move faster without certain layers of management? Would your products and services suffer without those management layers? Do your middle managers create business inertia that is difficult to overcome? Do you have a business culture that has developed from your management teams that holds your business back?
8. Will Recruiting Middle Managers Killing Your Business?
Well, will it?