Middle Management Is Dead — Long Live The Middle Management
The inevitable shift to remote work and asynchronous collaboration has taken organizations across all industries by storm. While this comes with great challenges for a lot of us, middle managers have a particularly hard time. Their traditional tasks of monitoring productivity, optimizing individual performance and relay information is redundant now. Let's explore why:
9-to-5 Is Gone. For Good.
In the past, when everyone was sitting in the office, it was easy for a middle manager to just walk around the room and check if everyone is working. Interrupting people only to ask about status and other kind of information. That's not possible in a remote, asynchronous work model. (this is AWESOME!) Instead of relying on synchronous, in-person communication — middle managers should now focus on creating operating procedures and workflows that fit into the new work model.
Communication Should Be “Open By Default”
Middle managers used to be information routers. Gathering data from their team, outline it and report to their managers. That was a necessity when a meeting room is the place where communication happens. But when information is shared in a digital channel (for example a forum) that gathering and outlining is redundant. Information is “Open by default”, dramatically increases transparency. Sharing key information and decisions is much easier now. Middle management got a new role here — moderation. They should help to keep the flow of information precise and effective. Remove noise and curate.
Reborn As Community Manager
We should rethink teams, departments, and organizations in an asynchronous work model. At least from the middle manager's point of view. Think of it as a community. It's your new-found responsibility to help them thrive. Encourage everyone to participate, implement digital tools to constantly improve digital collaboration. See yourself as a servant and guardian to the community.
It may feel like you have been stripped of “power” but as teams become more independent and self-organized, your stress level will decrease by a magnitude. Embrace that.