5 Ways to Engage Middle Management

Middle managers often feel like they are on the front lines alone, and they crave feedback and advice from their managers and company leaders.

Gallup recently published a report, The State of the American Manager 2015, and found that only 35 percent of managers are engaged. Shockingly, this is only five percentage points higher than overall employee engagement among U.S. workers. There clearly is a correlation: When managers are engaged, employees are engaged, and profitability increases. So how do you engage mid-level managers? Here are five ways:

1. Build relationships: At every level, employees want exposure to leadership, and this is especially true for middle management. They often feel like they are on the front lines alone, and they crave feedback and advice from their managers and company leaders.

Schedule time to regularly meet with mid-level managers. If distance is an obstacle, plan Skype or FaceTime calls. Use these meetings to not only discuss goals, challenges, and any staff issues they are having, but also to connect on a personal level. Ask about their family, their weekend, or what’s going on in their life outside of the office.

At the end of the day, everyone wants to know they are cared about beyond the professional contributions they make to the company.

2. Seek input: Too often middle managers feel removed from the decision-making process of the company—they receive directives from absent senior leadership and don’t feel like their opinion is truly valued. Take time to ask for their feedback and ideas to improve the business.

Take it one step further and have a regular management meeting led by senior leadership. If the company is too large for all managers to participate at one location, host a meeting in each office. Use the meeting as a platform to discuss issues and brainstorm ideas for how to grow revenue. Give them a seat at the table, literally.

3. Say thank you: Management can be a thankless and difficult job. In most companies, managers let their teams take the praise, and enjoy doing so. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge the progress and accomplishments of a manager.

Learn what motivates them—maybe it’s money, more responsibility, increased autonomy, or even verbal praise. Then, acknowledge their work in that way! Sometimes, even the smallest gesture such as a text message or an e-mail can go a long way.

4. Invest in them: Just because an employee has climbed the proverbial corporate ladder into management doesn’t mean his or her desire to grow and learn has stopped. Unfortunately, their professional development often takes a back seat as they are responsible for developing their staff.

Provide opportunities for mid-level managers to continue to learn and improve. Invest in a management class or a course specific to their role. Ask them about the areas they feel they need to improve in and provide suggestions for areas they need to grow in.

5. Hold them accountable: Managers aren’t untouchable. They rose to their position because they were strong leaders and performed well. They held themselves and their peers accountable to achieving goals and high standards. This doesn’t and shouldn’t stop once they reach management.

Hold managers accountable to metrics and goals. If they don’t hit them, have a candid conversation about why and talk about ways to ensure it doesn’t happen again. It seems simple, but too many managers skate by without any accountability for their actions. Demonstrating concern and interest in their progress engages managers, and working together to create a plan to overcome challenges demonstrates a commitment to helping them succeed.

Sirmara Campbell Twohill is Chief Human Resources Officer at LaSalle Network and has more than 15 years of experience in the staffing and recruiting industry, starting her career at LaSalle Network shortly after its inception in 1998. Twohill has been involved in the planning and execution of nearly all LaSalle’s new initiatives in the last 15 years, including most recently, compliance with the Affordable Care Act. Highlights of Twohill’s accomplishments include a Field Employee benefit plan, a differentiating service in the staffing industry, and creation and implementation of a detailed onboarding program for new hires to ensure a smooth transition into LaSalle Network employment. Twohill is certified as a human resource professional. In addition to her Human Resources responsibilities, Twohill handles all LaSalle Network operations functions. Twohill has a BA from Columbia College Chicago.


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