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Five Ways To Retain Middle Managers

Failure to acknowledge these employees leads to a decrease in commitment and higher turnover

Retaining middle managers

While most organizations are reluctant to admit it, they tend to neglect their middle managers. Top executives have an agenda that consumes the majority of their time and energy, and they have an unspoken assumption that once staff reaches the middle management level, they no longer require the same amount of time and attention.

Facility management organizations are guilty of this practice, too. When plans for developing and retaining staff are prepared and executed, the concentration is on the top and the bottom 10 percent of the organization — those who are senior managers and have leadership potential and those on the frontline requiring guidance and support.

All too frequently, the “hidden middle” as characterized by Eileen Hoenigman Meyer is left to flounder and rely on their own ingenuity for growth, development, advancement and recognition. As their time within the organization progresses, this hidden middle population may find themselves trapped in something like the narrow part of an hourglass. They are considered by frontline staff to be management, but not considered by upper management to be part of the senior management team. In reality they are “managers of managers,” so they require a deeper set of skills and talent than what they needed when they were part of the frontline.

The Role Middle Managers Play

There are numerous ways to characterize the role middle managers play in a facility management organization. They are the glue that binds the work of senior managers who spend their time strategizing and leading, and frontline staff who keep their eyes on day-to-day operations that support the smooth flow of the company. The frontline supervisors are in the trenches performing tactical work, while others spend their time casting a vision for the organization. Middle managers have to understand both sides in order to cement the functions of the two groups together.

In many facility management organizations, middle managers are the gate-keepers of information that comes down to the organization from above and that flows up to senior management from staff. It is their job to ensure what is shared with staff is accurate and trustworthy before it is distributed. At the same time, middle managers also are entrusted with information given to them by staff that should be passed along to senior management. The truth about middle managers is that they are the communications link up and down the pipeline and have a big responsibility to provide reliable and trusted information.

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