Middle Managers are amongst some of the most stressed employees in the workplace, with 43% of Middle Managers reporting feeling burnout at work. According to The 2022 Future Forum Pulse Report, Middle Managers are often the squeezed employees in an organisation – caught between company objectives and initiatives coming from senior leaders above and the day-to-day management of direct reports, plus their own workload!
The Wall Street Journal has examined why the pressure has more recently been mounting on middle managers:
“Historically, it was a relatively straightforward job; monitoring time keeping, reporting on project progression and the like. Most middle managers were people promoted up because they’re the most senior person in a team, now they need to be coaches. They need to build psychological safety, to build trust within a team of very different individuals and that’s a very different set of skills to have. That old job was far easier. Being a coach among diverse groups of people, that’s really hard stuff and we don’t train people very well in doing it. We don’t support them as much as we should. And so that’s why we’re seeing this crisis that’s continued to build on all of us.
We need to give them training, tactical tools and tips. But we also need to give them support networks; create groups, cohorts of frontline managers, and give them a couple of people who are a little more experienced to help coach them, guide them on their journey.”
Technology can help alleviate some of the pressures faced by middle management; build connections, streamline work processes and provide training. Helping to open up more time for mentoring, coaching and productive work.
At The Bot Platform we’ve identified 3 ways our technology can help employers support their Middle Managers:
When middle managers are already under increasing pressure, training becomes a ‘nice-to-have’ on a never ending list of priorities. So how do businesses make time for continued training that is accessible and also useful and relevant to their managers’ roles?
Sumitani from the Society for Human Resources Management believes that continued learning for middle managers can make their jobs easier; “many middle managers have not been in their industries for their entire careers. Therefore, they could be trying to learn the industry, do their jobs and stay on top of their craft, all at the same time. Anything that companies can do to invest in learning also shows their commitment to and confidence in those managers.”
As workplace trends are moving towards more hybrid and flexible ways of working, employers need to be looking for digital training solutions. Many online training programs are now agile enough to be fully personalised, digitally accessible and in line with work-life balance and flexibility needs that are now the norm.
The Bot Platform has a number of digital training templates, with ‘The Management Coach’ being one of our most recent additions, which is ideal for supporting middle managers. The Management Coach has been developed specifically to help managers set aside specific self-development time. Helping them to reflect on their management style and become more empathetic and effective leaders.
Integrating seamlessly with internal software systems like Microsoft Teams, Slack and Workplace from Meta, the Management Coach runs automatically in the background; checking in with your managers and team leaders on a regular basis (dictated by your business needs). By asking a series of self-reflecting questions, the system is designed to implement a time of reflection, to encourage managers to think about the people they manage and how they are performing as a leader. It can also point managers and leaders to internal or external training resources and materials, to develop their skills further.
By supporting managers to reflect on how they can improve, the Management Coach helps managers to reflect on their positive attributes, helping leaders become more confident in their ability to get the best out of themselves and their team.
A recent article from The Society for Human Resources Management stated that it’s critical for technology to enable effective communication channels, which also provide a safe space for transparent, candid feedback that reaches all levels of the organisation. For middle managers, this means less time sharing business updates, translating new company initiatives and collecting and providing feedback for company directors.
Technology that helps streamline internal communication processes and also helps employees to provide feedback for leaders to act on, enables a shortcut of communication flow in a way that eases the burden on middle managers. This can lead to reduced feelings of being overwhelmed, higher productivity and significantly higher middle manager happiness.
According to Psychology Today, employees who feel their leaders connect with them have 45% higher engagement than those that don’t. In fact, managers’ relationships and actions with employees make up 70% of their engagement. When reports show that employees who feel connected to leadership can increase profitability by 21%, ensuring effective communication practices are in place in your organisation is essential.
One of our customers, Ennismore, uses bots to share important company updates, crowdsource news from staff and allows them to ask anonymous questions to their CEO. Their ‘The Anon Bot’ lets employees anonymously submit questions to the CEO, providing a way for staff to reach leadership. Their ‘Ideas Box’ bot also acts as an easy way for staff across the company to suggest ideas that can help and improve the business.
Ennismore’s bots receive over 500,000 monthly interactions with 93% of Ennismore staff using at least 2 bots each month.
Effective communication systems can help ease the burden on middle managers to be an intermediary between employees and upper management. This allows them more time to properly coach and mentor their direct reports and become outstanding leaders.
Experts suggest that part of the discontent within middle management stems from spending too much time on administrative and non-productive tasks, leaving them little time for leading. One survey by Entrepreneur found that 40% of full-time employees end up wasting an hour or more a day on “administrative tasks that do not drive value for their organisation” and 24% of workers even stated that too many meetings caused them to miss deadlines.
Technology can help middle managers conduct tasks that were once considered “managerial”, from scheduling to training and performance reviews. By using simple but effective technology, middle managers can balance their roles more effectively.
Using bots on Workplace, Mariner Wealth used effective technology to connect their staff, saving time and speeding up information transfer across their workforce. Their Senior IT Manager was tasked with overhauling their phone system with a new unified service for their 35 locations. As you can imagine, implementing 35 new phone systems across 685 people who were previously on four or five different phone providers was a massive undertaking.
To support this project they launched the RC Rollout Bot which performed many functions including providing information on when the new phone system would be implemented in each office, sending relevant training materials on how the new phone systems worked and gathering requests and providing answers to questions from staff.
The RC Rollout bot helped the IT department improve communication around the project by using broadcasts to alert the company and then remind each department before the roll out took place. The bot also then distributed the necessary training materials to ensure a smooth transition.
By using bots on Workplace, Mariner Wealth created automated tools that helped with internal communication, knowledge and information transfer, team management, staff collaboration, new technology rollouts and HR comms – all while saving their staff time and helping them be more productive at work.
For your middle managers to be truly effective leaders, they need to minimise non-productive business processes and inefficient communication systems, which will lead to much greater output from them and their teams.
Organisations can’t afford to allow the pressure to build on their middle management. In Deloitte’s 2020 Human Capital Trends study, 80% of respondents identified worker wellbeing as critical to their organisation’s success. The Bot Platform’s digital solutions integrate seamlessly into the platforms your employees already use, like Microsoft Teams, Slack and Workplace from Meta, which can be implemented quickly and easily – saving hundreds of hours and preserving middle managers’ wellbeing, so they can focus on providing value to your business.
Want to find out more about our ready-made templates that are the perfect tools for supporting your management teams? Click here to get in touch if you would like to find out more about our Management Coach, Employee Reviews, Leadership Q&A’s, Ideas Sharing, Company News or any other digital solutions we offer.