Overcoming the Challenges of Middle Management: A Guide to Strengthening Core Capabilities and Achieving Strategic Goals

Can the company’s strategic goals be achieved? In a sense, it is to prove whether the existence of the organization is meaningful. An organization that can continuously achieve its annual strategic goals is an excellent organization with high efficiency and value. Whether an organization can achieve its goals is closely related to its management, because organizational management is the activity that mobilizes the organization’s human resources to achieve performance goals.


Chaos in middle management

The middle management is the backbone of organizational management. The middle management of most enterprises have not received systematic management training. Management relies on experience and feeling, and the overall management efficiency is low.

As dividends fade and the epidemic becomes normal, companies are facing a more severe operating environment, and the performance of many corporate organizations is unsatisfactory. In the new business environment, middle management of Chinese companies face the following challenges:

1. Severe centralization of power, especially in small and medium-sized enterprises, where bosses leapfrog management and the middle management is hollowed out and used up;

2. Weak strategic awareness and poor understanding of strategy. As the company’s strategic deployment and execution requirements continue, the department still does the same thing as in the past, and the implementation of the strategy is far away;

3. He has no management ability and does not know how to delegate. He does everything himself and only micromanages everything, leaving his subordinates exhausted and exhausted;

4. Under the new business model, the operation and management requirements of each department of the company are becoming more and more specialized. Faced with finer and more specific goals, the middle and senior management are under great pressure and complain a lot;

5. Poor management skills, busy putting out fires every day, unable to handle everything unless handled personally;

6. With more and more professional business capabilities, managers with only old skills are unable to empower their subordinates. A layman manages an expert, and the manager is useless;

7. In order to improve the company’s development needs, many managers are driven to the shelf, but they lack basic management knowledge and management skills training;

8. Poor awareness of process, unclear collaboration process, poor awareness of collaboration within and between departments, and everyone is clearing the door;

9. When the company adapts to the new regulations formulated by the market and customer requirements, managers themselves cannot lead by example and have difficulty convincing the public;

10. Do not know how to motivate subordinates, are unwilling to train people, and are afraid of affecting their own interests in the organization;

11. Culture is always a slogan written on the wall. Managers and employees do not understand it and do not implement it.

For many management problems in the past, we only needed to solve superficial problems. This is not possible now. Enterprise organizations are facing reforms and management needs to be comprehensively sorted out. Therefore, we must first find the root causes of these problems.

In the past, management was extensive and middle-level positions were unclear, leading to frequent chaos.

Business expert = management expert?

Many bosses promote managers, often by promoting those with the best business capabilities to business management positions. Little do they know that not everyone can manage, and business elites who are not good at management will be in a mess if they are placed in business management.

He himself is unique, he has the strongest ability, the most methods, and the widest resources. But what about the team? He had no ability, and it was difficult for him to solve problems independently. In the end, he made money, but he was unable to empower his subordinates and let them make money.

If a middle-level person cannot make money for the people below him, he is not only not a good leader, but also an incompetent leader!

Middle-level cadres = Bao Gong who defends the people’s grievances?

In order to win the hearts and support of their subordinates, many middle-level managers never give careful thought and analysis to the problems their subordinates respond to, and the benefits and bonuses they request. Instead, they rush to represent public opinion and “justice” for the people. Thinking about the problem from a global perspective cannot solve the problem.

1. Focus on your own interests and add fuel to the fire
With a little knowledge of the company’s strategic deployment and related implementation policies, instead of confirming it clearly upwards, they will misinterpret it at will and spread it downwards at will; what’s more, based on the weighing of their own interests, they will conduct purposeful misinterpretations, causing the company’s loss.

Do everything by yourself and take care of everything every day

I don’t trust others to do anything, I do everything myself. I always think that employees will be very grateful and considerate of you when they see you. I always deal with problems between employees, emergencies, customer negotiation issues, etc. non-stop. When encountering any difficulties, I always take them over and do it myself.

The employee said that he was going to have dinner with a client today, but he was too drunk. He asked the boss to come with him and help him. You said, “Okay, no problem. In the end, you drank too much, and so did the client. He was the only one who drank too much.” What’s the use of staring wide awake and awake? Still can’t sign the contract.

Always yes, never “no”

Whether it is a request from the company or a subordinate, I will never say no. He did not dare to criticize and correct his subordinates’ intolerable mistakes; in the face of unreasonable cooperation requirements from other departments, he chose to swallow his anger. Over time, his superiors, subordinates, and peers no longer took him seriously, and management completely lost its effectiveness.

Forming cliques and forming small hills

I like the feeling of being the boss, forming cliques and cliques in the company, rather than relying on my personal charisma to lead the team! Instead, they rely on the affection of their buddies to win over people’s hearts. In terms of interests, they even use groups to blackmail the company into making concessions.

2. The middle-level capabilities are aging and cannot keep up with market requirements and changes.
In many companies, middle-level cadres are veterans who have worked with the company for many years. In the past era of brutal growth, they basically did not manage, or did very simple management. Without learning, business capabilities and management capabilities seriously fail to keep up with the changing requirements of the market. Team management is incompetent, and team performance is like a roller coaster, but a more suitable replacement can not be found all of a sudden.

3. Most business owners and middle-level managers are from poor backgrounds, with weak organizational cognition and poor awareness of change.

Enterprise development is at different stages. For example, many enterprises have actually entered the current development stage from the survival stage in the past. However, all management models still use the past experience-based management model, which results in the failure of many management methods, restricts business development, and makes it difficult to truly mobilize and activate people.

Organizational change is a top-level project, but the bosses and middle and senior management are either unaware or unwilling to change because change is painful.

To sum up, unclear positioning, aging middle-level capabilities and weak awareness of change are the core problems faced by middle-level management in most Chinese companies today.


How to position the middle layer

Only by recognizing the development stage of the enterprise can you effectively utilize your skills and advantages.

Drucker, the management guru, said that the main tasks of managers are:

1. Set clear goals and break them down

2. Organize teams to carry out work to achieve goals

3. Motivation and communication, in-depth understanding of execution

4. Coach and help employees and empower subordinates to achieve goals

5. Assessment and improvement of performance, scientific value assessment and performance improvement

The purpose of an organization’s existence is to undertake the enterprise’s strategy and try to achieve it. The positioning of middle managers also mainly revolves around understanding, communicating, and implementing strategies. Therefore, in the implementation of strategy, the middle level must assume at least the following seven responsibilities:

1. Strategy execution: Only with a clear mind can you command the battle.

Understanding the company’s strategy, rather than trying to figure out the leader’s thoughts, can clearly describe the company’s mid-term and near-term strategic goals, strategy implementation paths, and annual core work. Under the company’s overall annual goals, it undertakes the strategic goals of each department’s project subdivisions, and at the same time breaks down the goals within the department. Develop corresponding strategic plans based on goals and guide subordinates to achieve their respective year/quarter/month/week goals.

2. Department command: Help subordinates to achieve goals

Set goals and achieve results: Carry out daily work goal-oriented;

Provide methods and resources: help subordinates achieve their goals at lower costs and with greater probability;

Make sense and motivate: keep subordinates energetic and working;

Lead the team and conduct training: practice deliberately to form standardized output;

Go to the front line and supervise operations: supervise in a timely manner and correct deviations in a timely manner.

5 things you must do every day:

You must discover, study, and solve problems every day. Failure to do so would be a dereliction of duty.

Every day, we find ways to improve employees’ work efficiency and develop corresponding tools to sharpen our tools and keep them from chopping wood.

New resources must be integrated every day, and the key is human resources. There is strength in numbers.

A good space for innovation must be created for each employee every day to prevent subordinates from becoming “human machines”.

Keep a management log every day to ensure that you are doing the right things and that your subordinates are doing the right things.

3. Execution supervision: spend 70% of the time doing inspections

Doing standards: With clear work standards, firstly, we can ensure that we maintain high quality, high efficiency and low cost to achieve the goal, and secondly, we can ensure that the team output is uniform.
Training: Specialized improvement of business capabilities. You listen when I say it, and you see when I do it. I listen when you say it, and I watch when you do it.
Grasp the key points
Key people: people who often make mistakes, newcomers, team leaders, and outstanding employees.
Key things: key goals , company core instructions, policies; key breakthroughs that affect the achievement of goals.
Critical time: before the event (preparation), during the event (execution and effects), and after the event (review).
Make corrections
If incorrect behavior is discovered, provide timely guidance, correction, and request for correction.
If there are problems with coordination between departments or positions, coordinate them in a timely manner.
If resources are found to be underutilized, timely mobilization and support will be provided.
do rewards and punishments
Rewards and punishments must be scientific, specific, quantitative, timely, fair and equal.
make improvements
If the specific responsible person cannot be found, he will not be let go.

Don’t let go until you find the real cause of the problem.

Don’t let go if you can’t find the best solution.

4. Team empowerment: The secret to soaring team performance is to copy N copies of you

Scientific, systematic and targeted training is an investment rather than a cost! Target the team’s weaknesses in the execution process, develop courseware, and adopt multiple training methods to ensure training effectiveness and comprehensively improve the team’s combat capabilities.

5. Collaborate with horizontal departments: All departments are part of the process of collaboratively creating value for customers.

The principle of overall supremacy: Realization (1+1>2).

The principle of obedience in the responsible department: clear responsibilities and no shirk.

Principle of information symmetry: synchronized instructions and prompt response.

6. Lead by example: The prerequisite for system implementation is to lead by example

Understand the company system: Clearly understand the company rules and regulations.

Promote company policies: regular training and learning.

Take the lead in complying with the company’s system: everyone is equal before the system.

Improve the system: identify problems, improve the system, and attach cases.

7. Cultural inheritance: the life of the company continues because of you

Follow the principle of speaking up and not down: always promote positive news about the company to your subordinates.

Amplify key behaviors and form collective memories: Use short stories to interpret company culture.

Be consistent in what you preach and lead by example: Use actions to promote culture at all times.

Multi-channel and multi-form penetration: seize every opportunity to promote company culture.


5 core items for improving middle-level capabilities

1. Understand the boss

Business owners, especially in private enterprises, are the leaders of the enterprise and are the soul of the enterprise. The boss’s thoughts are like the laws of a company and a guide to action. Therefore, as a middle-level cadre, you must understand your boss’s personality and thoughts, and use his thoughts as a compass to guide your work.

There are many middle-level cadres who always complain and make a lot of development suggestions to the company, from personnel management to technological innovation, etc., but they are not recognized by the boss. But they have never thought about whether these are what the company needs, or whether they are what they want.

2. Deeply understand the company’s culture

If you want to quickly integrate into a company, you should first understand the company’s culture. A company’s culture is a system formed after years of accumulation that is suitable for the company’s stage of development. It is an expression of a company’s work style and sophistication. As a company’s middle-level management cadres, you should deeply study, understand and adapt to this cultural atmosphere, and carry out your work in such an atmosphere.

In reality, many middle-level management cadres do not understand this. They turn a blind eye to the company’s cultural system, or even despise it as an old system, and go their own way at work. Instead of bringing the original company’s work style to the current company, he should reflect his own consistent work style in the company’s behavior, which is incompatible with the company’s culture.

As a middle-level cadre, you should understand that you have to work in such a big environment. The company’s culture is like a stage for a dancing competition. If you want to win the competition, you must abide by the rules of the competition and stand on the stage to dance…

3. Work on your core business

As a department leader or person at the helm, if you fail to do your core business well and waste time every day on some insignificant work or “helping work”, this is a very serious mistake. What’s wrong? It lies in the failure to correctly understand that as a leader of a department, you have your own core work and responsibilities. Your first task is to work hard on your own key performance indicators and on your own core business. Reflect capabilities and performance, rather than spending a large part of your time doing “helping work.”

Work has a certain emphasis. As a manager, you must prioritize and divide the work at hand into “both important and urgent, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, not important and not urgent” and spend the most time on it. Tackle things that are both important and urgent instead of doing tasks that are neither important nor urgent.

People’s energy is limited. If you put more energy into that thing, the energy you put into this work will naturally decrease. As middle-level managers, we must clearly understand which tasks we need to do immediately and which tasks reflect the performance of the department. That’s what we’re working hard to focus on.

4. Mobilize the enthusiasm of subordinates

Your subordinates are like the organs of your department. Only their coordination and hard work can ensure your health. The same is true for a department and a company. Only when employees in each department perform their duties and do their jobs well can the company run better.

As a department manager, your biggest responsibility is to consider how to maximize the enthusiasm of your subordinates, so that your department can operate effectively and deliver results quickly.

In fact, many middle-level cadres do not do this. Many middle-level cadres are giants in business but dwarfs in management. They tend to do everything by themselves and do not know how to mobilize the enthusiasm of their subordinates for work, do not know how to let them help them share their worries, and do not know how to divide their work among their subordinates. As a result, they often work overtime and are extremely hard every day, but they are also often harassed by employees. Complain that they don’t believe them and don’t let them take charge of themselves.

As a middle manager, you need to understand that you are the leader of a department. On the one hand, you undertake the tasks assigned to you by the boss, and on the other hand, you are also the deliverer of tasks. You effectively decompose the tasks assigned to you by the above to your subordinates, and let them complete the tasks for you. Be the deliverer and supervisor of tasks, not the solver and terminator of problems.

5. Dare to take responsibility

What kind of middle-level cadres are the most popular?

They are middle-level management cadres who dare to take responsibility.

What kind of middle-level cadres are the most annoying?

It’s those who push and take credit.

Everyone understands this truth, but in reality there are always many such cadres. They admire power, but refuse to take responsibility and are afraid of taking responsibility. Even if it is a little mistake, they will use one or other excuses to blame others. , completely shifting the responsibility from their own shoulders; seeing others achieve a little bit, they try every means to take credit, as if without themselves, others can’t accomplish anything.

These middle-level managers who refuse to take responsibility will not be reused by their bosses and will not be supported by their employees. In the end, they will destroy themselves.


How middle managers adapt to organizational change

Major transformations often impact individuals in three dimensions:

Role adjustment

task learning

emotional connection

We can think deeply about how we should adapt when our roles change under organizational change from the following questions:

1. What is your formal job title or position within the organization?

2. What valuable roles have you played in the team at different levels?

3. How important are these roles to you? Which one do you least want to lose, or most want to get the respect you deserve?

4. How do you think other key stakeholders will view your role and importance? Is there a gap between how you feel about yourself and how they see you?

5. What potentially disruptive changes are currently occurring?

6. How will these changes impact your most important role?

7. Will these effects change your mood? Will your ability to play an important role for the company be diminished as a result?

8. Are there any countermeasures? Does the way you perform your role need to be adjusted to better adapt to changing circumstances? What specific tasks or key tasks will be involved in the adjustment?

9. Do you need to make a more complete role change, get rid of the old setting, take on a new role, or adjust the order of importance of your current multiple roles?

In personal transformation, role adjustment is an essential process. In organizational transformation, role adjustment is also key.

After understanding that role positioning is the result of interpersonal interaction and will develop and change, managers will have a new understanding when looking at employees’ value contribution to the enterprise.

They can make more thoughtful, positive changes to their organizations.



The middle level is the backbone of strategy execution and is also the commander of whether the organization’s human resources can ultimately maximize their effectiveness. If a company has a strong echelon of middle-level cadres, then the company’s management will surely be able to promote rapid improvement in operations.

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