Article (October-2021)


Future work will see the changed role of middle management

Vikas Sharma

Designation : -   Senior General Manager - HR

Organization : -  Heidelberg Cement


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How do you decode the Middle Riddle? What are the most relevant issues involved with middle managers in the organisations?

VS Middle Management is indeed a "Riddle" because it has its own hierarchy and layers ranging from Employee with 90% time engaged in executing task and 10% time in Planning to 90% Planning and 10% executing task. The ratio varies from person to person as per their capability and performance. So, it's a big set with many sub-sets which makes it difficult to put them in a single clique.

Talking about the issues involved, position held by middle managers have undeniably been a rough career milestone for many through the past decades. The biggest issues involved are ability to make decision and people management. Being in middle management you take to make some decisions at your end, in addition you may have to work with team. Looking from a bird's eye view middle management is a group with similar set of employees but when you dive deep, you will realize it is not. You will find people in middle management of all age group, some of them are performer, they have escalated swiftly, and some have progressed slowly on their career path. Which creates a rift among them, and lack of coordination is very evident. In order to address these issues, organisations need to bring out big cultural changes. They must strengthen their T&D and IDP programs and make their career progression policy very transparent.

Does the Corp Inc. recognise the existence and value middle managers? If yes, why it is not visible and appreciated enough? If not, what reasons you can count upon?

VS There is an "iota" of doubt that organisations recognize and value their employees. Organisations these days are working their best to take care of their performing employees. I strongly believe in one thing that for an organisation, employee is the most valuable Asset. I have always believed in this, as there is no denying that if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your organisation.

About the visibility of appreciation, yes, it is a chink in the armour. Despite having admirable Reward and Recognition programs, businesses are yet to experience an ROI from their R&R programs. The results are not satisfying, due a simple fact that the programs are generic. We are living in the age of Customization; from our mobile cover to car we can customize as per our need. So why not the R&R programs? This may look like a goliath task, but this is the only answer to address the issue. And I am pretty sure that in near future we need to have customized programs for R&R, otherwise we will see a steep rise in dissatisfaction among the employees. So, to conclude, employers do value and appreciate middle managers, but it will be visible only when they will amend their R&R programs according to the set of people. "One size fits all" practice of R&R program will deplete in near future.

Do you think that the middle managers are self responsible for their misery or failure in the organisation? What can be the strategies to make them more competent?

VS  "Defeat is a state of mind; No one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality" said by the legend Bruce Lee. One cannot disagree with this.

The only thing that can put us in misery is our own mindset and the only thing that can put us out of it is also our mind set. As mentioned earlier, the middle managers are a big group consisting of gradual risers to high performers.

In an organisation most of the gradual risers have accepted that they are stuck and cannot move forward. They get easily frustrated by the pulls and pressures of the work, they don't participate willingly in activities or new projects, it is harsh to say but they lack enthusiasm. This approach hampers the culture and morale of the whole organisation. It makes the job of HR and Management very difficult. This needs serious attention before it spread across the workforce.

As an HR person and organisational strategist, I see young professional working in middle management as rising leaders of tomorrow. So it is very important to turn the weaklings into performers, but this can be only achieved by 2 things - Performance management and R&R program. We need to make dynamic changes in our performance management system; we need to make it as simple as we can, so that employee can understand what impacts his or her performance. I believe that PMS should be so simple that employee can himself/herself can easily evaluate his performance and predict the rating.

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