THREE CHEERS FOR THE MIDDLE MEN
Whenever a team enjoys success it is invariably those at top and the bottom of the pyramid that split the lion’s share of the credit.
The general workforce is celebrated for their hands-on hard work, while senior management is congratulated for their fantastic foresight, strategy and tactics. And you know what? Rightly so, because without boots on the ground and brains in the boardroom it would be impossible to make great things happen.
If you find yourself scoffing in disbelief at this premise, ask yourself this:
Who were you clapping for at 8pm on a Thursday night?
Was it ‘Derek the Deputy Head of Corporate Services’ or was it ‘Maureen the Maternity Nurse’?
However, in the interests of fairness, we think it’s time that a light was shone on those perennial middlemen who work just as hard and play a huge part in making magic happen and getting things done – line managers.
As the old saying goes, look after your line managers and your line managers will look after you.
LOOKING AFTER YOUR LINE MANAGERS
It’s no secret that good line managers can make or break an organisation. Most people in a work environment only ever report to their line manager and according to global consulting firm DDI, a staggering 57% of job leavers do so because of their immediate supervisor - http://ow.ly/wCwO50BZyxh.
I’ve had my fair share of good and bad managers, and they really make a difference to your work ethic. The good ones encourage you to work harder, and make the working space more pleasant. The bad ones make you want to punch something - preferably them.
It’s clear- in order to look after your business, you have to look after your line managers. And that’s harder than ever to do, with everyone trying to find their balance in a world of Zoom meetings and working from the kitchen table. It’s essential that your line managers feel supported in every aspect.
Often, line managers are bombarded from both sides with “Can I just ask this for the millionth time…” coming from the bottom up and “Let’s make this happen quicker…” coming from the top down, getting squeezed between deadlines and requests. And sure, it’s a line manager’s job to handle what their team are doing, and to WOW! the senior management with smashed targets and increased revenue. But when you’ve got everyone shouting your ear off, it can be hard to deliver those top-tier results.
Having a watertight system of communication (no, PostIt Notes don’t count) can take much of the burden off their shoulders. Crystal clear briefs, timelines and objectives can give everyone an easier time when it comes to a (mostly-online) meeting space
TAKING A LOAD OFF
Understandably, workloads are erratic right now. Whatever your industry, chances are it’s been affected by the current COVID-19 situation in some way – whether that’s working from home and slowly realising your kids are the worst, or turning up to work with increased measures of safety and that dreadful mask breath.
That means that a lot of the pressure for keeping that workload running smoothly is on your line managers. Have a care that you’re not overloading them in the pursuit of output or profit. Give your line managers a break every so often, so that they feel refreshed and, more importantly, looked after. Maybe that’s time away from the desk, or more flexible working, or maybe even just a potted plant with a smiley face. A little reassurance can go a long way.
As we approach the colder winter months, and 2020’s terrible curse shows no sign of letting us go, it’s a good time to keep our physical and mental wellbeing ‘in the black’, as it were. Most likely there’s lots of resource for your workforce when it comes to their wellbeing – and if there aren’t there should be.
But often that doesn’t translate easily to members of the management. There’s the old analogy of the chef who is always cooking for others but never themselves. The problems come when you don’t get to taste your own delicious food, it gets harder and harder to drum up the enthusiasm to cook for others.
If your line managers burn out, pretty quickly that will bleed down into your workforce. Reinforcing the message that those wellbeing resources are available to everyone – not just the boots on the ground – will result in your line managers feeling supported and heard.
THANKS FOR EVERYTHING
Being a line manager can be a thankless task. They’re under deadline pressure from above – and they have to pass that along to their workforce. They have to hand out disciplines where appropriate, and champion the cause of their workforce to senior management. Even a small amount of recognition and appreciation can go a long way to making their job seem worth it.
I don’t pretend to know the ins and outs of your organisation, but I’m willing to bet that your line managers are currently under a fair amount of stress. Relieving that stress takes many different forms, which change from person to person and from industry to industry. But whatever form it takes, giving your line managers the time to recharge and communicate will only help your organisation.
Take on board our top tips and give them a break because in the long run taking care of them will let them take care of your business.