Danger In The Middle: Why Mid-Level Managers Are not Ready To Lead?

by HSG on Oct 03, 2018 in

In recent decades, companies have become remarkably different than what they were in the past. The formal hierarchies through which support staff rose towards management positions are largely extinct. Offices are flat and open-plan collaborations between individuals with varying talent who may not ever physically occupy a corporate workspace. Many employed by companies today work from laptops nomadically instead. No one could complain that IT innovation hasn’t been profitable. It’s an industry that is forecasted to rake in $351 billion in 2018, according to recent statistics from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). A leadership dilemma for mid-level IT managers in particular, however, has developed. Being in the middle has always been a professional gray area that only the most driven leverage towards successful outcomes for themselves professionally, but mid-level managers in IT need to develop key skills in order to drive the level of growth that the fast paced companies who employ them need. 

What is a middle manager’s role exactly? 

A typical middle manager in the IT industry is usually someone who has risen up the ranks from a technical related position due to their ability to envision a big picture of what’s required to drive projects forward. A successful middle manager is able to create cohesion across different areas of the company so that projects can be successfully completed. They’re also someone with the focus necessary to track the progress of complex processes and drive them forward at a fast pace as well as ensure that outcomes meet or exceed expectations.

What challenges do middle managers face in being successful in the IT industry today? 

While middle managers are responsible for the teams they oversee to reach key milestones in the life cycle of important projects, they struggle to assert their power to influence closure. Navigating the space between higher-ups and atomized work forces is no easy thing, especially now that workforces often consist of freelancers with unprecedented independence. 

What are the skills most needed for an IT manager to be effective? 

Being educated on a steady basis to handle the constant evolution of tech is absolutely essential if a middle manager expects to thrive professionally in a culture so knowledge oriented that evolves at such a rapid pace. A middle manager who doesn't talk the talk of support roles or understand the nuts and bolts of a project they’re in charge of reaching completion will not be able to catch errors or suggest adequate solutions when needed. 

How has the concept of middle management changed? 

Middle managers were basically once perceived of as supervisors who motivated and rewarded staff towards meeting goals. They coached. They toggled back and forth between the teams they watched over and upper management in an effort to keep everyone on the same page. It could be said that many got stuck between the lower and upper tier of their companies in doing so. While companies have always had to be result-oriented to be profitable, there’s a much higher expectation for what that means in the IT industry. Future mid-level managers will have to have the same skills as those whose performance they're tracking so they can determine if projects are being executed effectively. They also need to be able to know what new hires that are being on-boarded should know to get up to speed quickly, and that’s just a thumbnail sketch because IT companies are driven forward by skills that are not easy to master and demand constant rejuvenation in the form of education and training. It’s absolutely necessary for those responsible for teams that bring products and services to market to have similar skills in order to truly determine if they’re being deployed well. There’s a growing call for mid-level managers to receive more comprehensive leadership training as well, however. There’s a perception that upper and lower level managers have traditionally been given more attention than managers in the middle. Some say that better prepped middle managers make more valuable successors to higher management roles. That would be a great happy ending, but a growing number of companies in India’s tech sector complain that mid-level managers have lost their relevance in the scheme of the brave new world of IT and may soon be obsolete.

 

 

 

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