girl_supporting_boulder-212This type of research is not new - in fact I recall many years ago, more than I care to remember, reading something similar about how different levels of staff in organisations perceive each other.  And of course, there is always someone else to blame for the lack of recognition, training, empowerment etc etc.

What I find interesting about this piece of research is the apparent short term memory loss of the senior managers interviewed.  They appear to have forgotten completely that they were once members of the ‘mushy middle' set themselves. 

How did they get to where they are today?  Did they suffer from the lack of management and leadership that creates a barrier to performance?  Did they fail to deal with underperformance in their teams?  Did they have the poor influencing abilities and managerial competencies that they notice in their direct reports?  Apparently not...

This research is in my view an indictment of the participants' own leadership qualities - and that most powerful quality of all - leadership by example.  Senior managers have to devote time, energy and commitment to developing their people - investing in good quality training and development.  Good investments, financial or otherwise, do not provide returns overnight - in fact the best returns are often secured in the long term. 

Managers at all levels have to recognise talent and good performance and reward it accordingly.  Too many managers spend time bemoaning those employees who do not perform rather than praising and providing development opportunities for those who perform well. 

If you are a manager spend time regularly assessing the talent you have in your team - notice the good performers and cast your mind back to when your contribution was recognised by your manager.  Positive feedback and recognition are powerful motivators.  Practice them more with your team and turn your ‘mushy middle' into a force to be reckoned with.

This article appears in the March 2007 issue of Connection, the magazine of the Cambridge Network www.CambridgeNetwork.co.uk


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