What’s it: Middle-level management is a position within the organization as a liaison between upper-level management and lower-level management. In the organizational chart, they are in the middle of the chain of command.
Middle-level managers report and are accountable to top-level managers and, at the same time, are responsible for leading lower-level managers. Their job is to implement the plans and strategies developed by top management and translate them into their work area. They then develop tactical plans in specific company areas for lower-level managers to carry out.
What are examples of middle-level management?
Middle management is a common position in large, highly structured companies. That’s because they have complex operations and require more control. Thus, they need more middle-level managers to oversee the organization.
Examples of mid-level manager positions may vary between companies. They may include titles such as:
- Factory manager
- Regional manager
- Division manager
- Head of a department
- Branch manager
Hiring many middle managers comes with higher costs. Thus, companies must compensate them more than they spend on staff. For this reason, we may not find this position in a small business. But, their size is relatively small with simple operation. And their income is also relatively small.
What are the roles and responsibilities of middle-level management?
Middle managers are usually responsible for a business function or department within the company. They report and are accountable to top management for their department. At the same time, they serve as a link between top-level managers and lower-level managers.
Middle managers are more involved in the department’s day-to-day activities. When top-level managers develop strategic plans, they then act to implement them. They develop several plans and tactics at the departmental level for the team to carry out, including by lower-level managers. They oversee how the department runs and how lower-level managers and employees carry out what they plan. Thus, they spend more time on organizational functions and direction than top management. Some middle-level management roles are:
- Implement organizational plans developed by top management.
- Develop tactics and plans at the departmental level based on organizational plans.
- Interpret and inform organizational policies to lower management.
- Make decisions about resources at the departmental level, e.g., the number of personnel.
- Provide guidance to lower-level managers to execute plans and improve performance.
- Assign tasks and responsibilities to subordinates.
- Determine and monitor departmental performance indicators.
- Design and implement a reward and punishment system.
- Diagnose and resolve problems within the department.
- Recommend strategic changes in functional areas – if needed – to top-level managers.
- Report statistics on departmental performance and achievement towards targets to top-level managers.
Authority and communication
Middle management holds authority for functional areas. Take the finance function as an example. The finance department manager makes decisions regarding financial management, as delegated by the finance director, which may include relating to:
- Dividend policy
- Asset management
Decisions about finance department personnel are also in the hands of the finance manager. Indeed, the ultimate authority for these decisions is in the hands of the finance director, but for some, it may be delegated to them.
Then, the financial manager also communicates up or down. They oversee lower managers, monitor performance, and take the necessary actions to ensure their department is meeting targets. They discuss with subordinates about functional areas which may require them to make decisions. In addition, financial managers seek information at lower levels, which may have to be submitted to upper-level managers for decision-making.
Long story short, this two-way communication allows middle managers to offer advice and feedback to top managers. It becomes critical because they are more involved in the company’s daily work. Thus, they better understand how organizational plans and targets are implemented at lower levels. Therefore, their information is valuable for top managers to improve organizational performance.
What are the essential skills required in middle management?
Interpersonal skills are vital for a middle manager. They must play an effective role as liaisons between the top and lower-level managers. Let’s break down specifically the essential skills required in middle management:
Communication. It may be verbal or nonverbal communication to either top managers or lower-level managers. Poor communication can lead to distortion of information; as a result, for example, organizational plans are not implemented effectively at lower levels.
Motivation. Middle managers are responsible for several people, including lower-level managers. So, they must also be able to motivate subordinates to give the best for the department, more than what the organization gives to subordinates (such as salaries and bonuses).
Leadership. Middle managers must lead people to work together, synergize and achieve targets. They must also delegate tasks to lower-level managers.
Recruitment. Managers need a solid team with sufficient competence to support the department effectively achieving its targets. So selecting – and developing – employees is an area that middle managers must master. Otherwise, they can get stuck with incompetent employees or don’t fit as a team.
Delegation. Middle managers delegate some authority and decision-making to lower-level managers. It would be exhausting and ineffective for them to manage the functional areas alone and do the work of everyone who reports to them.
Work management. Middle managers hold their subordinates accountable. And they provide encouragement and incentives to subordinates to do their jobs effectively and achieve the targets they set.
Decision-making. Making decisions about functional areas is the responsibility of middle managers. And therefore, they must have skills as effective decision-makers.
Functional skills. Middle managers must master functional skills or knowledge to be effective. For example, a finance department manager must understand and be skilled in analyzing financial data.
What to read next
- Functional Manager: Roles and Responsibilities, Required Skills
- General Manager: Definition and Brief
- Lower-Level Management: Examples, Roles and Skills
- Management Level: Why It Matters, 3 Levels
- Management Style: Importance, Type, When Appropriate Adopted
- Management: Meaning, Five Main Functions
- Manager: Definition, Interests, Types, Functions
- Middle-Level Management: Examples, Roles, Skills
- Top-Level Management: Examples, Roles and Responsibilities, Skills