Don’t You Think, Middle Managers Need Empowerment The Most?

Middle-level managers have the privilege to be free from the top-level responsibilities and alongside they have the advantage of flexibility as of the entry-level employees but the truth is something else.


As the uncertainty seems to escalate and disruptions to business as usual continue due to the recent coronavirus pandemic; managers are grappling with the unknown. Middle management is the most stressed and frustrated people in the organization. They have the privilege to be free from top-level responsibilities and alongside they have the advantage of flexibility as of the entry-level employees but the truth is something else.

The Covid-19 pandemic is unprecedented and a major disruptor in a various sense. Similar to other crises, such as 9/11 or the 2008 financial downturn, employees feel scared and worried because as they say ‘uncertainty triggers fear’. People freak out and wonder, ‘What does this mean for my company, my job, and my future?” Even though the situation is unpredictable, ambiguous, and fast-moving and you don’t have perfect information, your role as a manager is, to be honest about what you know, to project confidence, and to transfer strength to other employees you are working with.

Struggles of Being Middle Manager

What information — and how much of it — should you share with your teammates about the financial status of your organization? How can you be candid about the possibility of pay-cuts and layoffs without demoralizing your team? And, during this period of uncertainty, how can you offer assurance without giving people false hope? These are the real questions middle managers have a daily internal quest to find solutions to it so that they can relieve the employees working under them. The data points and a recent survey reveals that almost 50% of middle managers take their work home or work overtime. Yes, the statistics as sad as the reality is; middle managers have depression rates higher than both their subordinates and superiors.

Empowerment Can Do Wonders

Strongly believing in focusing on empowering employees; HR leaders clearly are able to see some of the positive impacts that it has created. Pallavi Tyagi, CHRO, Capgemini India asserts, “Research from Hay Group shows that an employees' immediate manager shapes 70 percent of their experience of work. A manager's leadership style has more meaning to employees than company benefits, peer relationships, project work, and even CXOs. Thus, the best thing we can do is to focus on the middle-managers and give them the support they need. This will help enhance the employee experience and thus employee engagement levels within the organization.”

For each of the functions of a company, empowerment brings different valuable outcomes and positive consequences. Each individual, manager, middle-level management, or even support staff, if empowered, is more likely to innovate, because they understand that their efforts and work is respected by the top-level management leaders. As BW Businessworld reached out to some HR Experts to get some realistic ways for empowering and they have shared some worth integrating approaches to empower and elevate the middle-level managers, let’s have a look at these;

Heart to Heart Connect: The new age leaders finds potential in heart to heart (H2H) approach. Logic-driven head-to-head connect (H2H) has been replaced by emotion-driven heart space. Future leaders are the ones who take decisions from the heart and not from head anymore.

Being compassionate: Leaders who will be successful in the future are the ones who display more compassion in this new normal. Its compassion which will drive organizations to earn long-term loyalty from their employees.

Maintaining Flexibility: In these uncertain times, managers and leaders cannot display any form of rigidity in their actions or while making any decisions. Flexibility will be the key trigger for success in the post-pandemic era.

People First: In order to take a step towards a successful and progressive new normal in which people are given the tools and resources they need to be healthy, creative, and safe; we have to start with the basics: put people first.

Recognition of efforts: As we know, the best work can be done when humans feel included, safe to learn, contribute to their organization. Hence, it is of paramount importance to recognize everyone.

Middle-Level Management: The Key To Transformation

The recognition incentivizes employees to seek improvement as it adds to their value in the organization, improving their ability to grow as professionals in their field and be recognized for their efforts. As the recent disruption has introduced dynamic changes in various aspects of business and organizational structure; middle managers will make sure the smooth transition to drive the organistion further in the New Normal.

During the discussion, as to how the organisations have realized the dire need to empower the middle-level manager; Kaushik Chakraborty, CHRO, Director HR, Savills opens up and shared, “Most organizations felt the impact of pandemic thereby affecting the morale as well as productivity of employees. This made organisations constantly motivate the first or mid-level managers to empower them while constantly sowing the seeds of positivity within the employee base. It is the best way for companies to navigate the current crisis and be more future-ready.”

The process of empowering your employees can never be fixed and left on the automatic setting. Leaders have a long way to go, the need is to study to understand the culture of the organisation better and the behavior of individuals deeply to attain a certain level.


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