What does it take to be a successful middle manager in 2024? To be adequately prepared for the future challenges posed by the revolutionary workforce, such as a more permanent shift to hybrid work, the integration of artificial intelligence, and Baby Boomers leaving the workforce as Gen Z take their place as leaders future, requires that middle managers possess a strong set of core skills to adequately address these changes and adapt accordingly.
Here are three skills you need to develop now to stay ahead and be an effective leader and middle manager:
Building relationships is a key skill for middle managers, who must manage relationships with senior management, their teams and external stakeholders. Teams are now working remotely or in hybrid work patterns, and your organization will experience expansion into new markets, if not already, due to the interconnected nature of remote work, which allows companies to serve clients internationally while not physically operating in them the areas. Therefore, your number one priority should be to focus on developing your communication and relationship-building skills and adapt them to online settings, leveraging various communication tools and platforms to effectively convey messages to your employees, monitor performance and build strong relationships.
To develop your interpersonal skills, take the time to personalize and craft your messages for different stakeholders and team members. Be clear and concise, listen actively, focus on maintaining positive body language and understanding the body language of others, and communicate frequently and regularly.
It is essential to analyze current and potential issues and creatively explore out-of-the-box solutions to these problems. Your priority as a middle manager is not only to implement strategies, but to turn them into action through simplification and streamlining of processes.
Do a systematic review of the work you and your team are responsible for and ask yourself, “How can I improve this? How can I improve our systems and processes?” Innovative thinking is encouraged through seeking feedback from others and encouraging different perspectives. See challenges as opportunities for the birth of new ideas – not as limits or barriers to growth.
One way to incorporate innovative thinking into your work is to consider the use of artificial intelligence and adapt it to your specific business needs. Find ways to use artificial intelligence to augment your and your team’s processes, so you work smarter, not harder.
One of the most critical skills for managers is organization. Middle managers must plan ahead to allocate resources appropriately and assign work to the right team members. This includes scheduling tasks and deadlines in advance. coordination of meetings to adjust the schedules of the members of the hybrid working group; clear communication and description of responsibilities; KPI setting. and tracking and monitoring progress toward those goals.
A great way to develop your organizational and time management skills would be to undertake project management training, coaching and time management training or research planning and organizational hacks so you can think and act systematically.
Pick the brains of those in your organization who get things done smoothly with little hassle and who always seem to have everything under their belt. Learn their hacks and experiment to see what works for you, integrating apps and software like calendars, task managers, and AI-powered productivity tools.
Developing these three key skills will allow you to stand out as a highly effective middle manager and help you advance in your career while earning the trust and acceptance of senior internal and external stakeholders and your direct reports.