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Human Middle Managers

office-620823_1920 Today’s guest post is courtesy of our board member, China Gorman. China is a consultant, speaker, writer, and former CEO of the Great Place to Work® Institute.

If you read any business publication – print or online – you’ll know that organization culture has become a critical advantage when competing for talent today. If the CEO and her C-suite commit to organizational values that promote the value of purpose, the building of trust, and the meaning of work, as well as the commitment to create real, personal relationships with colleagues – human-to-human rather than boss-to- subordinate – there is virtually no downside from an organizational performance perspective.

The tremendous productivity gains and culture-enhancing benefits promised by putting technology to use are huge. But using technology to create more human relationships and cultures at work is irony at its finest. Is there really an app for that?

Here’s where we need to focus: if we allow technology, Big Data, and predictive analytics to make it harder – rather than easier – for us to relate to each other on a more human level, we’ll have abdicated our responsibilities as leaders and missed an epic opportunity to improve our business outcomes.

If we miss this opportunity, it will most likely be because we neglected to set our first line supervisors and middle managers up for success. We’re notoriously ineffective at equipping these folks to be good relationship builders, behavioral leaders, and approachable partners with the human business of our businesses. We focus, instead on “hard” skills development, if we invest in their development at all.

As we maximize the benefits of technology, Big Data, and people analytics, we also need to invest in developmental opportunities for all of our managers – with a special emphasis on middle managers and first line supervisors. If these critical leaders aren’t focused on creating more personal relationships with their employees – including being equipped with skills, abilities, and attitudes to relate on a human level – if they aren’t approachable, if they aren’t trustworthy, if they aren’t human, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. My belief, though, is that what you’ve always gotten won’t be enough in 2017, 2018 or beyond. Bringing humanity into your culture through your first line supervisors and middle managers is a critical next step. But to do that will require focus and investment. Perhaps one of the most important investments in your 2017 plan.

What’s your organization doing to enable your first line supervisors and middle managers to become more effective leaders?  Are they able to coach and develop your employees?  Do they make the time to do so?

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