My name is Levi Swartz, the founder of Rise High Career Coaching. Let’s discuss the job search for middle managers. Examples of common middle management positions include Regional Managers, Division Managers, General Managers, Branch Managers, and Department Heads.
No matter your tenure, there are important aspects to recognize at the mid-level. I firmly believe the first step to secure a middle management position is to understand how important and how stressful the role can be for a candidate and the business.
The Middle level plays an integral role for a business. At this stage, the employee is offered a reasonable level of autonomy with a comfortable salary and respectable benefits. However, middle managers in specific are presented with a unique venture that other positions don’t encounter to the same magnitude in an organization; this is the management structure.
Middle managers are not only accountable to the top-level for their department’s function; they are accountable for the actions of subordinates under them. Middle managers also devote more time to organizational and directional functions than upper management. Executives typically don’t have to manage up (and a majority only manage down when necessary), and first-level managers don’t manage down to the same caliber. Middle managers are some of the only ones trying to go in multiple directions, and that is very hard.
Middle Management Key Functions
Middle management functions generally revolve around managing teams to report performance indicators and quantifiable results to senior management. Because of this, successful middle managers demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills relating to communication, motivation, and mentoring. Leadership skills are also important in delegating tasks to first-level managers, and they often possess a proficient working knowledge of the products and services the organization provides.
Here are 5 essential core competencies middle managers possess:
- Expertise in Change Management – Dependent on the company and industry, mergers, acquisitions, and the deployment of new products and services can occur more often than not. Your ability to communicate, implement, and adapt to change is central to the role.
- Excellent Soft skills – Leading change, identifying and managing resistance, conflict resolution, and ensuring that deadlines are met are just some of the tasks that middle managers will have to take on. You’ll also need to communicate with senior management with direct reports on a daily basis. The chain of communication goes both up and down from where you will be sitting. A high degree of emotional intelligence and communication skills is required to engage your team, keep individuals focused, and negotiate expected outcomes.
- Reporting – In middle management, your role is the point where actual results and company goals intersect, so it is essential that you have transparency in regards to work, outcomes, and team performance. Your training needs to give you a thorough understanding of the tools needed to report on these. Alluding to what was discussed earlier, you will also need to understand how to report up as well as report down, because these are two very different things. As a key liaison between multiple departments, effective middle managers offer clarity in their reports, projections, and honest appraisals of their team’s work.
- Setting and achieving goals – You will be held accountable to meet the goals set by upper management. Your ability to prioritize tasks and effectively manage time is crucial. You are also responsible for developing target goals for your own teams and identify any training needs, or other support needed to achieve these.
- Innovation – In today’s climate, innovation is critical for middle managers. It is what will differentiate you from the competition to deliver an excellent product or service. Middle managers must be visionaries, and constantly on the lookout for ways to improve efficiency in operations to achieve a healthier culture and a higher ROI.
Middle Management Interview Process
Due to an amalgam of technical knowledge, aptitude, and experience, middle management is a difficult role to land. Being a middle manager requires total selflessness. You must praise other’s successes and subsequently accept full accountability for other’s pitfalls.
Expect interview questions to dive into your past achievements, and why you believe that you are best suited for the role. You will be asked to explain what your impact was on previous organizations, how you did it, why you did it, what challenges you encountered, the failures you made, what was learned from them, and what transferable skills you can offer to deliver quantifiable results.
A comprehensive line of questioning may also include other areas of focus to ascertain…
- your management style, ability to lead, and preferred methods of communication
- how you analyze information to offer new methods of action to troubleshoot existing problems
- your level of emotional intelligence through hypothetical and situational dialogue
There is great density inside of a middle management interview, which yields little room for error. Top candidates conduct immense research and utilize professional coaching services to expedite the job seeking process.