Lack of effective middle management delays problem solving – what can be done?


In our conversations with businesses, we find that a lot of them struggle with building an effective middle management team. They say that managers lack the initiative or the courage to take timely actions and solve the operational issues. Issues tend to get ignored until they become big and must be escalated or until a customer highlights the same to the promoters. Therefore, the promoters need to constantly monitor the activities and the team members to ensure smoother operations. They fret that such activities take significant time and leave little time for strategic work and reflection.

What can be done? It seems forcing regular communication between team members is an important key to solving the challenge. Businesses handle this challenge by fixing periodic meetings. Fixed time and place are decided when selected team members must meet. This could be at all levels. For example – a team may be scheduled to meet daily at a fixed time and place to discuss routine matters. The division heads may be scheduled to meet weekly to discuss any inter-division hitches and to co-ordinate schedules. The promoters may decide to meet the division heads daily or weekly to discuss the progress and problems. Depending on your nature and scale of business, you may fix different meeting frequency for different teams and members.

It is important to note that the time, place, and people are fixed. No coordination or reminders should be needed. It should be a part of the schedule. The teams must meet. If there is not much to discuss, then the meeting may be ended quickly. But they must at least meet. This expedites communication when there are issues, as the hurdle is low. In some businesses, the standard agenda for the meetings are also fixed – for example sales team must discuss customer complaints, rejections, and delivery schedule, besides any other discussion that comes up.  

The nuances of the above process like frequency of meets, who should meet, should there be a fixed agenda to discuss, etc depends on your management style, company culture, nature, and scale of business. However, what is important is to develop the culture to communicate. And fixed communication schedules aid that. Make communication a part of your system and process.

Hope you found this useful. I would love to hear your thoughts.