Leveraging Middle Managers to Drive a Culture of Employee Appreciation

22 April, 2022

Leveraging Middle Managers to Drive a Culture of Employee Appreciation

Middle managers are the crucial engine of the business and the glue that holds an organization together; they can affirmatively be envisioned as the unsung heroes of the corporate world. With the advent of hybridity and flexible workplace cultures, middle managers are more important than ever as they are the instrumental connecting link between the senior management and executive employees. Mid-level managers are entrusted with a myriad of tasks including implementation of new employee initiatives, communication of policy changes, process updates, team management and productivity checks. In addition to these widespread range of duties, they are also responsible for employee recognition, wellness, and engagement programs. While the significance of employee recognition by direct managers is better known, surveys show that over 60% employees would prefer more proactive engagement from their line managers. In other words, irrespective of their position within the overall hierarchy, managers have a strong impact on frontline employees.

Challenges Faced By the Middle Management

Up until recent times, middle managers were stereotyped as ineffective, paralyzed by the dominance of the senior leadership and the challenges faced by employees further down the hierarchy. Think of a middle manager as the head of a company’s branch office or manufacturing unit. They wield influence on frontline workers but are also directly answerable to senior leaders. This creates a double bind on them to perform as effective managers while being responsible reports and building a healthy rapport with the senior management. This is a tall order for most executives in this position. However, their success is imperative to manage employee experience, development and retention while ensuring the C-suite’s efforts are in alignment with grassroots-level insights. Our blog expounds on the various measures an organization can undertake to empower their middle managers to further create a positive, thriving work culture: 

1.      Prioritize Manager Wellness

Middle managers suffer a high risk of emotional and cognitive burnout due to their complex role. They not only need to enforce the management’s agenda but interpret and communicate it in a way that aligns with junior employees’ motivations. Similarly, they need to represent employee voice and influence their bosses without jeopardizing the relationship with the higher-ups. Leadership programs and HR initiatives therefore need to be directed towards helping them maintain battle exhaustion in the face of challenges. Professional psychological assistance, training programs and peer-collaboration forums on an employee engagement platform can be some useful steps to this end.

2.      Recognize Middle Managers

Work culture is known to flow from the top-down and appreciation is no exception. However, often employee recognition programs fail to highlight the values that are indispensable to the success of middle managers, namely- effective communication, negotiation, influence and empathy. Updating the org-wide R&R framework with these ‘soft’ skills is essential to give due credit to the labor performed by the middle management. Doing this will ensure these managers value recognition and pass on appreciation further down the hierarchy

3.      Hold the Senior Management Accountable

The senior management needs to extend support to middle managers in keeping their employees happy. This can be aided through a unified R&R portal wherein leaders have direct visibility into frontline achievements. They can occasionally bolster morale by sharing direct appreciation with junior workers as well as keep an eye on the recognition practices of the middle management

4.      Promote Transparency to Aid Middle Managers

Modern engagement tools such as pulse surveys and dynamic polls are a great way to promote transparency in an organization. This feature is available in an employee engagement software and offers a key benefit-  it enables middle managers to gauge the team spirit through data-driven insights extracted from employee responses. These managers can leverage this data to influence management decisions pertaining to employee satisfaction and performance

5.      Digitize Rewards and Recognition

Annual or quarterly awards delivered in a traditional manner are a thing of the past, the personalization of awards is what makes an impact in this disruptive era. Digital employee rewards that include spot recognition as well as self, peer, and manager award nominations can assist middle managers in delivering appreciation up and down the command chain. Modern R&R software also comes with intelligent checks to prevent bias in employee appreciation by measuring frequency, variance and type of recognition. This will further assist managers at all levels to recognize others in a fair and equitable manner

In conclusion, effective middle management is indeed crucial to organizational success. Leveraging this resource can make a world of difference when it comes to driving performance and boosting employee retention. By using digitized recognition as a key engagement tool, line management can suitably reward, recognize, and support their teams.Connect with us to know how our digital R&R platform can serve as strong asset for your managers and help drive a culture of appreciation within your organization!

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