Being the One in the Middle

Compared to employees at either end of a firm’s management spectrum, the middle managers have a relatively complicated relationship with power. They are expected to play very different roles when interacting with different groups, frequently alternating between high and low power interaction styles. This imposes a psychological burden because humans are inefficient when it comes to task switching: It is psychologically challenging to disengage from a task that requires one mindset and engage in another task that requires a very different mindset. There are however some steps that could be taken to reduce such a burden on middle managers, namely simplifying the reporting structure to reduce unnecessary upward and downward interactions, not micromanaging the middle managers, and putting in place a more egalitarian organizational structure.

SourceHavard Business Review

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What to do when you can’t build a team from scratch

In reality, most leaders do not have the luxury of building up a new team from scratch. Instead they are put in charge of an existing team, which could be the one that created the situation that the leaders needed to fix. When replacing members in the short term is not an option, they should broadly speaking assess, reshape and accelerate team development.

The new manager should quickly size up the dynamics of the team that is inherited, gathering information from preferably one-on-one chats, team meetings, and stakeholders. At the same time, reflect on the business challenges facing the firm, and the kinds of people needed in various roles, and the degree to which they collaborate.

Having that understanding, adjust the composition of the team by moving people to new positions where there is a better fit, redefining their job scope or responsibilities, or replacing them as a last resort. Ensure that everyone’s goals and incentives are aligned by changing the team’s direction if necessary. Also think about how changes can be made to the way the team operates (e.g. creating new sub-teams, frequency of meetings or running meetings differently to focus on strategic or operational issues) to improve team performance. Further, establishing ground rules and processes to sustain desired behaviors or eliminate destructive behaviors, and revisit those periodically especially when there is a change in membership.

Above all, set the team up for early wins. With the initial successes, they will boost everyone’s confidence and reinforce the value of the new operating model, paving the way for ongoing growth.

SourceHavard Business Review

 

Is ‘holacracy’ up to the latest hype?

In case you’re wondering, ‘holacracy’ refers to a form of self-management that confers decision power on fluid teams that put focus on roles rather than the individuals. Teams become the structure, and within the teams roles are collectively defined and assigned. Teams govern themselves but remain nested within the larger structure. Leadership in roles can vary depending on context. It is believed that such a flat organizational structure will foster flexibility, engagement, and efficiency. In reality, firms intending to utilize this concept to organize themselves shouldn’t go overboard with it. A better way to use this concept is to consider in which parts of the organization would greatly benefit from having elements of self-management where adaptability is paramount; and turning to traditional structures where reliability is vital.

Source: Havard Business Review