Implications for Belonging and Leaders: Mind the gap – Frontline, middle management, Board

It’s easy for Boards to overlook the importance of middle management when it comes to implementing policies. Middle management can be cynical of rhetoric from senior managers. It’s a common gap that hides big risks. If they do not understand why they are being asked to do something, then this cynicism can prevent the message from passing through the whole business.

EY’s survey of 100 Board members showed just 24% thought the behaviour of middle management leading by example was one of the most important factors in managing culture. At the same time only 36% of middle managers said they trust their leaders fully. If middle managers do not trust their leaders, and leaders do not consider them to be important for implementation, this can lead to a disconnect between the two.

Disconnection between Boards and middle management sees many aspects of strategy lost across different levels. Factors such as cynicism on the frontline or not realising the urgency of decisions can result in a rift between Boards and management when implementing change. When passing strategy from Boards to middle management it is crucial to communicate openly so that it can be implemented effectively.

To make certain the message reaches throughout the entire business, senior management must communicate clearly with middle managers. It’s not enough to just say what to do and how to do it. You must explain why it is important, if people understand why something must happen they are more likely to act on it. Higher levels of trust between middle management and leaders will help to mitigate the problem. This can be achieved through a better understanding of the middle managers role, as well as the pressures and challenges they face in daily business. A confident, reliable exchange right through the hierarchy requires a healthy level of Camaraderie, Community and Leadership.