The "Air" of Management

Why is Your Company’s Middle Management Struggling?

Have you noticed that as you are promoting employees to the mid-management level that there have been some complications? Going from employee to manager is a huge and exciting career step, but often can be a difficult one.

A company’s middle managers are some of the most dedicated and hardworking employees, understandably, as they were promoted for a reason. However, these middle managers are often neglected because their training needs are forgotten after seeing them perform so well. When your company raises an employee up to this middle management level and leaves them there, four main things happen that can seriously hurt your business:

  1. The employee may feel neglected and overwhelmed    
  2. The once superstar employee now begins to work at a reduced performance level
  3. The employee may be training others incorrectly
  4. The employee may leave your company or cause others to leave

Our Director of Business Intelligence, Zane Curtis, coined a term to describe this exact business challenge. He calls it the “Air of Management”. Preventing and correcting this problem is possible and our Zane gives the answers on how. But first…

What is the “Air of Management”?

This term comes from a simple idea. Think of a building, it has a floor. This is where all employees start and get their grounding. After hiring a new employee most managers make sure to provide this new hire with everything they need to learn, develop, grow, and succeed within their role. All of this coaching is to help them build their skill set and help them become the best of the best at their tasks and duties.

Next, a building has a ceiling. This is where the top executives are at. Once making it to a top executive level these employees are given training, coaching, retreats, and feedback all focused on helping them to build their leadership abilities.


In between the floor and ceiling, however, is where the air exists. It is where the middle 

management level is, and where most companies struggle. The middle managers that are in this in-between space are often not given the support they need to expand upon their current skill set with a focus on leading others. Our middle managers get to this position by receiving training to master their jobs requirements. What they aren’t given is the necessary training on how to be a manager or lead other people. This lack of focus on leadership training is what causes the four potential results mentioned at the beginning of this post.

How Can Your Company Correct or Prevent this Challenge?

Zane talks about three steps your company can take to prevent the “Air of Management” in your organization:

  1. Understanding that bringing someone new into a management role is hard work – when we promote someone we now have the task of helping them become a successful leader, not just helping them be successful at their daily tasks

It is important to ensure you are ready for this training commitment if you would like to even consider promoting someone.

  1. Realizing that top performers are great at their job, but may not always be great with other people – when this is kept in mind while thinking about promotion opportunities, you are being active in planning ahead to prevent a new mid-level manager from being left alone in the air

The virtues of Hungry, Humble, and Smart from Patrick Lencioni’s book The Ideal Team Player” is a great place to start.

  1. Providing more resources throughout every stage of management – this means hosting workshops, recommending books, role-playing, providing the new manager with everything needed to help them develop the leadership skills necessary for them and your company to thrive.

Providing these resources makes the air breathable, or successful, for those within that position.

Does this sound like a problem your company is already facing? Then it’s time for you to:

  1. Re-engage

It is time to take things back to the beginning and become more involved with your recently promoted manager. Find out how they are doing, where they think they are succeeding, and where they think they are failing. Give them the opportunity to tell you what they need in order to achieve.

  1. Train

Just like you did when you first hired this person, you trained and coached them. It is now time to find out what trainings and coaching they may need with a focus on their leadership qualities.

Some best practices here are to use role-playing, recommend books, hold one-on-ones,  

It’s never too late for your company to improve its internal hierarchy. By placing more focus on the air between your floor and ceiling your middle management level will thrive and thus your new employees and the company as a whole will continue to achieve. It’s time for your company to have breathable air.

Author: Megan Hively
Sales and Marketing Coordinator

Co-Author: Zane Curtis
Director of Business Intelligence

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