Managing through layers for many new middle managers is a very difficult thing to do. You have been rewarded because of your skills and managerial control. Your ability to know what’s happening where and get the job done has been a sought after commodity. Now you’re a middle manager (or higher): you need to go from Control to Trust.
Managing through layers is more about Leadership than Managing.
The main difference between leaders and managers is that leaders have people follow them while managers have people who work for them.
Leadership is setting a new direction or vision for a group that they follow, i.e. a leader is the spearhead for that new direction. Leaders trust that by communicating the vision, role modelling and setting the right conditions for their Managers allows the business to succeed.
Managers control or directs people/resources in a group according to principles or values that have been established.
Some ideas to think about for your own success include:
- Communicating to your Mangers
Be clear on what the vision and mission of the organisation is. Then be clear on what your vision is for the team. What do you want them to achieve? What boundaries do they have in their role? What are your 3 absolute must things? Be consistent.
- Role Modelling
Be the role model for your managers. Be who you wanted your old boss to be. Ask about important things, not about the details.
- Communication through layers
You will need to communicate through these layers all the way to the lowest grades. This means you need to have SIMPLE messages. And you want your managers to keep the messages simple so they get through, Remember, you must communicate something 7 times before it gets through to your audience. So don’t think that just because you and your managers know something, the rest of the organisation does!
- Thought leadership
One of the hardest things to be as an old Operational Manager is to sit quietly and think. It feels very hard! To begin with, schedule time in your diary where you think, plan and contemplate what is going well and what needs improving. This will give you Thoughtful Leadership, not just Action Leadership
- Time spent doing things
That leads us onto – what percentage of your time should you be “managing” stuff and what percentage leading?
A common management tool suggests 70% doing and 30% leading.
See what your diary suggests you are doing right now. Can you adjust that?
- Self awareness
Know yourself. Spread the mission of the organisation and find your own voice to speak your truth.
Ask others for feedback – it is a two way learning process with managing through layers. Learn what works for your team.
Finally Control to Trust is difficult, but an essential step on the way to becoming a Managing Director. You must delegate and trust your Managers to do the right thing. Guide them when they need support, check in regularly and let them find their own voice.
I work with people everyday who are making these changes. If you would like to discuss this more, please contact me