“Ladies & Gentlemen, since we are experiencing turbulence, I have just requested Air Traffic Control (ATC) to reduce our flying altitude from 34k ft to 32k ft. I thought some of you may not be comfortable, and flying at the lower altitude will definitely help us. While turbulence is just like the potholes on the road, you cannot avoid it like you do potholes. However, turbulence is not dangerous – so, nothing to worry! I am sure the cabin crew is taking good care of you.“

Impactful, thorough, timely and precise communication & coordination from the captain of the flight I was on last week. No ‘Message leakage’ and no ‘Message Blockage’. And I feel that’s how a middle manager should be. Absolutely in control of things – and not becoming the ‘frozen middle’.

Frozen Middles are a part of the growing layer that every company faces. They sometimes create friction. They could stall business growth if all the layers aren’t aligned to the organization’s vision. They are seen as a place, “where strategy goes to die”. The only real way forward is to defrost them, ignite them 🙂

One of the market leading biopharma Company tasked us with igniting their middle management. We configured #DevelopmentJourneysByJombay focused on People Development with all their middle managers across geographies in South Asia & Middle East. This helped their strong yet unsupported team communicate effectively and focus on developing the last mile. We turned them into champions – who become significantly more aware and more capable of addressing on-the-job needs.

We focused on an action learning based development journey with a practice coach, and configured a digital platform for reinforcements as well. We conducted a pre-assessment feedback survey at the beginning of the journey, and at the conclusion of six months. We saw 57% participants reporting a positive shift in people development as a competency!

In our experience of running leadership development journeys for the ‘frozen middles’ or the middle management, we have been able to identify some key pillars –

  • Turn them into Champions – Give them MORE (responsibility, facetime, rewards) so that each one of them is able to function at his/her best.
  • Coach Mindsets not Processes – Support, engage, develop, believe in & hence inspire them!
  • Marry Business & Purpose – Educate teams & make them aware of larger organizational goals. Absorb them into the business ecosystem to make them aware of the broader purpose of their daily tasks.

And once in a while, handhold them giving them the attention they deserve!

What have been your observations on running development efforts for middle managers?