Article (October-2021)


To meet organisational objectives, middle rung need to be given more autonomy

Uday Tulapurkar

Designation : -   Joint President - H.R.

Organization : -  Aditya Birla Group - Hindalco, Mumbai


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

UT In most of the organisation Middle riddle play's 'switch on-switch off' role between Manager and employee (IC). They play a crucial role in any organisation's operations, optimism, and employee retention. Sometimes, it is difficult for them to handle the easiest issues in day-to-day task. They must also understand the exact goals/delivery expectations from the senior leaders of the organisation.

Here I would like to share few of the challenges of Middle riddles/managers :

  • The major challenges that most of the middle riddles are facing; No independence, strict deadlines, expectations to manage in-experienced juniors.
  • No clear direction andclarity on expectation to middle managers.
  • One of the challenges are to complete the assignment on time with limited resources. Also, timeline is decided as per the team size not as per the capability of the team.
  • In the current scenario you must plan, share, and execute any assignment and not able to decode your name as contributor.
  • Team expectation for guidance and support only worth when you start working equally with them.
  • They are responsible for mistakes done by their team members.
  • It's easy to say that we want people to treat each other with respect at work, but the respect means distinct things to different people.

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?

UT Corporates do recognise middle manager existence being key for execution, but not able to resolve the main concern. Some of the organisations are providing capability building/behavioural training & Leadership development to the middle level Managers and their teams. However, the individual unique requirement does not get addressed in these trainings. Stretched goals expectations without due support on failures, makes it invisible at times.

As per my understanding one of the reasons in current changing environment could be, the age and experience gap between the Middle Managers and their subordinates has been reduced, which creates competition between them. So, focus has shifted from organisational goal to individual competition.

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?

UT I do not think that middle managers are self-responsible for their failure because still we are getting successful leaders from them. To provide clear direction, required resource support & clarity on expectations by the next level can improve the competency the middle managers. Below mention points will be helpful for design strategy to make them more competent :

  • Experience and competency assessment before providing the positions.
  • Priorities targets/Time management.
  • Specific skill development project assignment.
  • Providing confidence to taking risk or trust to the team.
  • Providing guidance to handle millennials as team, because want freedom to work, the mid-level is tasked with managing them but has not been coached on how to be done.
  • A guidance or hand holding required for Middle managers, they must carefully calibrate what the leadership expects and what their team can deliver. Balancing and expectation setting is critical.
  • Middle managers often struggle with delegation. They also need effective communication and interpersonal skills as they have to create alliances to affect operational challenges beyond their immediate scope of control.
  • Feedback on what they did well and what needs improvement by the Manager.
  • Organisation can use tool for self-assessment by taking anonymous feedback from the customers or stake holders.

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