The Connection between the New Insecurity in Middle Management and Complaints of School Performance
Has insecurity in middle management due to downsizing led to a scapegoating of the school system?
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There are impediments to the maximization of organizational effectiveness strewn throughout your company. We often focus on lower personnel, blaming the schools for lower standards and youth in general for a lack of seriousness. As business owners or those charged with overall management of the organization, these are easy targets. You generally have little contact with these individuals, most of your knowledge of them comes from your management team. And of course, your management team is a pretty good one, they recognize how wonderful you are and always have your interest and the interest of the company foremost in their minds. Additionally, you’re well aware of their Herculean efforts and the wonderful ideas they generate to improve the bottom line.
But what if these are exactly the people causing the stagnation in growth and overall negative environment you’ve seen develop? New eyes should generate a wealth of new ideas. When that doesn’t occur, especially in those with backgrounds that indicate otherwise, you may have to initiate plans to stimulate creativity. And you have to open your mind to the possibility that the wonderful management team around you may be the source of the poor performance in new employees. They are the pipeline between you and your new people. Is this line clear and efficient or is it a clogged artery interfering with the health of the organization.
There are many reasons those with authority over the pipeline want to maintain the status quo. Insecure or overly ambitious individuals may feel threatened by a new person who generates a wealth of ideas. In some cases, they may present the ideas as their own. Nothing interferes with the creativity of an employee like the knowledge that their superiors take credit for their efforts. Nothing switches off the creative elements in the brain like this type of betrayal.
Perhaps new employees are not receiving the training necessary for success in their positions. It’s common knowledge that new employees are expected to hit the ground running in many cases. But regardless of technical expertise, entering a new position always requires training in the way things are done in that particular company. Those same insecure or overly ambitious managers mentioned in the previous paragraph sometimes remain indispensable by hoarding the knowledge others need to succeed. And of course, you don’t have to be an insecure person by nature to realize that middle management has become dispensable in these times of downsizing.
How do you find out if your organization is afflicted with these maladies? The managers relying on these methods aren’t going to expose themselves. And it’s often not a good idea to allow employees to evaluate their managers. This can lead to an increase in what is probably already a hostile environment. Besides, such evaluations are often viewed with skepticism, discarded as just an opportunity for disgruntled employees to take revenge on those trying to whip them into shape.
A better idea, and one that gets lip service but little else in organizations, is to make the management team responsible for the performance of their people. You could schedule regular meetings with your managers, where the positive contributions of their employees are the focus. Ask each manager to cite new ideas generated by those they supervise. Reward those managers who are adept at stimulating the creative processes in their people. Make sure a manager receives almost as much credit for an idea that originated beneath them as they do for those they create themselves.
And don’t neglect training. Ask for details on the training provided to those who aren’t performing up to standards. Let your management team know that as the gap between their knowledge and that of their employees decreases, their esteem within the organization increases. Whatever you reward, you’ll receive. Reward management for the performance of new employees, and you’ll see that maybe the schools aren’t pumping out defective product after all.