Managers are the most important human resource in any organisation because they are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the organisational goals are achieved within the specific time through spending less financial resources. Both organisations and people need each other to further their different goals or objectives. Therefore if mutuality is missing, it makes no sense in trying to assemble a group and develop a cooperation because there is no common base on which to build. Therefore, for attainment of organisational effectiveness, human resource and especially the middle level managers is the most important asset that must be paid attention by the management.
Management practices are employed by middle managers in order to enhance the effectiveness of any organization including learning institutions, and these management activities are planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. The middle managers through the planning function is responsible in coming with a schedule of business activities that will result to attainment of the set goals. The middle managers outline what to be done and the expected output from the employees.
The organizing function of any organization has to deal with the issue of allocating the tasks to the employees respectively according to their competence. Resistance by the workers may be experienced if the allocating process used is viewed to be inappropriate and oppressing which always leads to poor organization performance. So middle managers have to convince the employees that everything will be okay and there interests will be taken care of.
The leading/directing function of any organization is faced with the tasks of demonstrating to employees how to do various activities and also involves the employment of charismatic leaders in form of middle managers who can influence the employees towards positive attitude of performing their work and also capture the attention of the top management. The Controlling management practice by the middle managers is responsible for monitoring the results of any undertakings and thus can make any corrections or adjustments if need to do so arise. (Maund, 2001)
There are three levels of management in any organisation. The first level is the top level managers who include the senior managers and the executive officers and they are responsible for formation of organisational goals and objectives and they play an important role in decision making process. The second level is that of middle level managers who are responsible for ensuring that all the functional strategies from various departments are workable and can be achieved with certainty.
This level of management is the most critical one in that both the lower and top management attracts attention regarding to various activities within the firm. For example, the top management may exert pressure on them to achieve better results while the lower management may want them to reduce their level of supervision within the workplace. The third level is that of operational management or lower level managers who ensures that organisational activities are undertaken to achieve the set objectives or goals. . (Dale, 2001)
How Middle Managers can meet their demands
According to the latest research, reports suggests that middle level managers have a discrete and decisive function in all organisations particularly in the learning institutions and they do not only act as a medium between the top managers and the subordinates. Middle managers in many learning institutions in an effort to be effective and efficient in the workplace have the responsibility of balancing the ever competing demands of their roles brought about by conflicts from both the top management and the subordinates or the low level management. In order to attain the above objective this middle level managers have embarked on various critical roles in order to avoid any misunderstandings in the workplace and thus achieve the desired output. Such roles include the following: (Fiddler, and Atton, 1999)
Middle managers in learning institutions act as change agents within these organisations. Globalization has taken the centre stage almost in all sectors of the economy including learning institutions. There is increased interaction of people from different cultures, societies, and various backgrounds in undertaking various business activities with the aim of achieving their goals for example opening learning branches in other countries. Because of invention of advanced technology the world has increasingly become a village and as a result global business is the modern form of business in this 21st century
Because of globalization in relation to learning institutions there have been great disregard to national borders, governments have lower hand in controlling the flow of their economies and large companies including learning institutions are now not restricted to only one particular country as it was before. Middle level managers in learning institution have to cope with changes brought about by this aspect of globalization and they should brief the top management on decision making process. They also have the task of ensuring that the teachers in this institution are equipped with skills, expertise, and knowledge that can tap new knowledge from other people from different countries without hindering the learning process.
Middle managers have the duty of being a strategist in order to cope with the increasing demands from both the top management and the low level management. This implies that they have the tasks of ensuring that the strategies formulated by the organisation are implemented and executed in a good way that will lead to achievement of goals. They should therefore have the ability to interpret direction from the top managers in to functional departmental strategies and policies that will avoid any conflicts in the organisation and those plans must be viable and supportive for the mission of the organisation. (Baker, 1999)
In order to enhance this responsibility the middle level mangers must pay much attention to formulation of workable strategies. A strategy may be defined as the calculated means by which the enterprise deploys its resources to accomplish its purpose and basic objectives under the most advantageous circumstances. Therefore the middle level mangers have the task of ensuring that the organisation for example learning institution must be overall low cost effective system which will ensure good returns for example high performance through use of competent teachers and using of advanced technologies. So the work of middle managers is to ensure sourcing of competent teachers and application of approved high quality technologies e.g. the use of white boards.
Middle level managers must also act at ethicists in any organisation in order to balance the competing demands brought about by the interactions with both top and low level managers. This role implies that the middle managers especially those from learning institutions should develop a system that will help them sustain pressure from both top managers and subordinates in the process of promoting moral conduct within the organisation that will foster good results. For example teachers will be motivated to lecture/teach and students too will be motivated to work hard and achieve their results. The other role middle managers have to embark on is the responsibility of being a team player in the organisation or in the workplace. (Klagge, 1998)
This implies that the middle managers must show commitment and support cooperation among the top management, low level management or the subordinates and themselves. For these middle managers to maximize the concept of teamwork in the organisation then they should emphasize on formation of groups within the workplace.
A group can be defined as social unit which people interacts face to face when working. If an organisation emphasises group work then it is more likely that good results will be achieved. Sometimes some kind of work require teamwork participation in order to achieve goals, so managers should encourage group decisions too because they bound to succeed unlike individual decisions. With the concept of teamwork for example the subordinates will be motivated when they work together with the subordinates e.g. head teachers working together with teachers in trying to achieve good learning process.
The other role that will help balance the competing demands in an organisation is that of being the mentor of employees especially the subordinates. Leading by example for example engaging in groups with the subordinates and demonstrating what the subordinates are supposed to do. Also to get admiration from both the employees and the top management they should act as top manager’s advocate to subordinates as well as being subordinate supporter to top level managers.
Another useful role that will balance the competing demands is that of middle managers embracing the concept of being tacticians. This means that middle managers have to understand the organisational environment e.g. internal and external factors that may cause conflicts within the organisation. The main aspect of being tactician is that of middle managers encouraging collective decision making thus parties involved in carrying out duties will be motivated to work because they were part of the decisions arrived. (Fiddler, and Atton, 1999)
Advice to Middle Managers
For these level of managers to be effective and efficient in the organisation and more so to be able to balance the competing demands they need to be committed in their roles and especially being change agents in the learning institutions. Proper communication is essential to any organisation or group effectiveness and learning institutions are not exceptional. Research indicates that poor communication is probably the most frequently cited source of interpersonal conflicts. It is only through transmitting meaning from one person to another that ideas and messages can be conveyed.
Communication can play the following functions; controlling employee’s behaviour, motivating the workforce, provides a release for emotional expression of feelings and performs the role of facilitating decision making in organisation. Proper channels of communication should be put in place in learning institution and this will help the organisation to attain their set goals for example teachers reporting to their head teachers then the head teachers to senior managers then to the executive arm respectively if there have been a problem to be solved. (Edmondson, Bohmer and Pisano, 2001)
Leadership is another concept that middle level managers should emphasize on. Without proper leadership, organisation’s effectiveness and efficiency cannot be achieved and bad leadership in an organisation may cause poor results and thus lack of attainment of objectives. It should also be noted that not all managers are leaders and not all leaders are managers. Leaders can emerge from within a group as well as by formal appointments to lead a group. A good leadership style should be adopted in an organisation and especially in the learning institutions.
This implies the way in which the functions of middle managers with particular regard to the concept of leadership are carried out. Styles like autocratic style of leadership should be discouraged as this does not give the opportunity subordinates in decision making and only top managers are responsible to do so. Learning institutions should prefer the use of democratic style of leadership whereby the focus of power is more with the group as a whole and not in the top managers and there is greater interaction in the group. The middle managers of learning institutions should practice laissez faire style of leadership in that the employees especially the subordinates are left to choose groups for themselves and make their own decisions that will help them achieve the organisational goals. (Azzar, 2001)
The middle managers’ impact on control mechanisms in any organization is great and immeasurable. It is therefore important that managers look for convenient, cost-conscious and appreciated ways of control mechanisms in order to build a dynamic, committed and, a motivated workforce that will result in better productivity and profitability of the organization thus enhancing effectiveness and efficiency of the organization
For middle level managers to meet the demands of top management as well as that of subordinates they should fully define their roles to avoid conflicts that may arise in the course of work. They should also use proper leadership and good communication skills in order to achieve the organisational effectiveness. Middle level managers has a greater need to understand organisational behaviour in order to achieve the organisational effectiveness and particularly in learning institutions and much attention should be directed to people, structure, technology and the environment.
Organisational effectiveness can only be achieved if the middle management is be able to incorporate good leadership, motivation, a well defined organisational structure, forming group dynamics and setting up good structures for communicating in the workplace. The organisations should also be flexible in the sense that they should be ready to cope with change without affecting their productivity.
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