JamBerry Ltd

Friday, 29 February 2008

Top Tips for Middle Managers

Top Tips for Middle Managers

Based on ‘Managing in the Middle’ by Barry Oshry, which can be found at

Even in today’s world of flatter, leaner organisations, most organisations continue to have three levels of hierarchy. At the top there are the people who shape and give direction to the entire organisation. At the bottom are the workers, who manufacture the business’s products or render its services. Between them are those in the middle, often torn between meeting the demands of those at the top and responding to the needs and concerns of the workers they are expected to manage. The middle can be a confusing and ambiguous place, yet it is potentially a point of powerful influence, both upwards and downwards.

Some Top Tips for Middles

Resist the urge to make other people’s problems, issues and conflicts your own. Your job is to coach and empower them to resolve their issues, not take responsibility for them

Keep your own mind. Pay attention to your point of view, your values, your solutions. This will maximise your personal contribution to collective problem solving.

Be a Top whenever you can. If you can resolve a problem without passing it up to the Top, then do it. Tops only need to be involved with problems that are unsolvable at the Middle level.

Be a Worker when you should. If your team is short-staffed or has a sudden influx of work, then help them out with it. But remember, this should only be a short term solution. If it becomes long term then you need to re-focus on the systemic problems which are causing it.

Facilitate solutions by bringing together the people who need to be together, and helping them to have productive interactions. This is more effective than trying to act as a buffer between them.

Integrate with other Middles. Strong, interactive relationships with your peers will enable you to make a strong collective contribution and reduce your feelings of isolation.

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