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Mid-Level Excellence Starts with the Definition

One of the challenges of training is that while everyone is unique and every organziation special, there is a universality that exists in the experience of being a mid-level manager no matter where you work. And while large firms have more levels within the middle range than small firm, and not-for-profits are not the same as educational organizations, (which are differnt from government institutions, and corporate firms) there are some truths that apply no matter how big your organization or how sophisticated the culture.


Understanding the role of Mid-Level Manager is critical to being effective and successful. Managing at is difficult because you have top-level management on one side and entry-level management (as well as non-management employees) on the other side. Many of the issues you will be asked to deal with don’t have to do with the organization – they have to do with the people who work there!



  • Be the bridge. First-line supervision is focused on employee productivity, communication, morale, and benefits. Executives are concerned primarily with sales, service, and profits. Your job at mid-level is to be the bridge between them and coordinate everyone so all of the levels behave as a cohesive team.
  • For the most part, your employees are now managers too. These employees are not managed as easily as non-management employees. Initially, you may find yourself dealing with resistance, resentment, and even sabotage because you often represent change to their status quo, ideas and strategies. And change that isn’t always appreciated. Even if they agree with your ideas and what you say, be a little suspect.
  • Like any employee, you are the boss and therefore responsible for their work product and actions.
  • Your job is to improve the bottom-line. You are expected to empower your team to make decisions and take on the responsibility to increase sales/service/profits. Empowering others is essential to your success. If you don’t know how to do that, then you will have limited success.
  • Know your organization and its’ culture. When you lead from the middle, you are not setting strategy and vision. Everything you do needs to compliment, augment, and fit with the existing organizational norms and ways of doing things. 

Executives often get to attend external programs for professional development. They are sent awawy to talk to other executives about the challenges they face. First Line Supervisors get training, often internally, to help them make the challenging transition to the first management position in their career. If folks at the mid-level are having to fend for themselves when it comes to professional training  and skill development, it isn’t much different from crossing fingers and wishing on a star.

This entry was posted on Monday, June 28th, 2010 at 4:32 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.