Five Common Mistakes Mid-Level Managers Make

If you are a mid level manager, you might be making one or more of the following common mistakes which could become a hurdle to your growth to senior levels. See if you can identify with any of the scenarios below.

Scenario 1: You don’t want to move out of your comfort zone

You work for a large company in a support role at a middle management level. The company undergoes a restructuring. You are given a choice to move to a line function, say sales, if you wish to stay. You have no prior exposure to sales. To make matters worse, now you lead a young sales team and are not sure if your insecurities would show up sometime. You are too embarrassed to ask for help!

Mid-level managers often need to move out of their comfort zones. Mostly the change is forced on them. The more adaptable put their egos aside to learn on the job or get coached, thus getting enriched in the process.

Scenario 2: You are not assertive enough

Whether it is dealing with your onshore counterpart or your team, you are not assertive enough when it comes to delegating work. Why is that so? You are a perfectionist who thinks others may not do a good job of it. Or there is a cultural mismatch where you feel less equal and have turned yourself into an ‘order taker’. Alternatively, you are Mr./Ms. Popular who would rather take on the work upon yourself than risk losing the popularity tag. Effective mid level managers are able to strike a balance between being task and relationship oriented.

Scenario 3: You are not networking enough

You believe in the theory ‘my work will speak for itself’ and you have better things to do than ‘pander to someone’ when it is not strictly related to work. Over a period of time you are in the reckoning for a global senior role – you are technically well qualified for it but deep down you know you could lose out for the fact that you never reached out to people who matter. Effective mid level managers network sufficiently inside and outside the organization to get feedback which is accurate and timely.

Scenario 4: You are not sensitive enough to the needs of others

By virtue of your mid management role – say you are a Regional Functional Head – you are in a position where you can drive or veto decisions. You either lack the big picture or are too rule-bound. You come across as insensitive to other functional heads.

Effective mid level managers take time to explain the ‘why before the what’ to others. Adults want to know why they are being asked to do something before they do ‘what’ is being asked of them. In the absence of the ‘why’ there will always be a resentment in the cross functional teams even though you may get your way across most of the times.

Scenario 5: You are overusing your strengths

You are a successful mid level manager perceived as a ‘hard task-master’. Even your seniors approach you to iron out tough people situations however unrelated it may be to your role. You delight in the attention only realizing much later that you have been making the classical mistake of ‘overusing your strength’ to the point that it becomes your weakness – spoiling your relationships and weakening your chances of moving up the ladder.

Effective mid level managers use every opportunity to develop themselves and their team – whether it is strictly following 360° feedback, implementing a customized development plan or even seeking help from a coach when it seems no one is bothered about their welfare!

If you are a mid level manager do any of the above scenarios resonate with you? If yes, what are you doing about it? Do share your comments or write to me at suraj@woodruff.in.

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