Why It’s Important to Focus on the “Magic Middle”
Whether you have been in the workforce for one, two or 10 years, how will you make a difference along the way to helping the magic middle managers reach their career dreams?
As a young woman who spent 10 years at Hewlett Packard beginning in 1985 I learned much along the way. When I became an entrepreneur in 1999, I wanted to build a company that empowered people to drive their personal career goals in a team environment while making a difference in the world.
I’m proud to write a blog on this topic about which I’m super passionate. Hiring great people, who are humble, hungry, and smart. Our senior leadership embodies these qualities. The people we have hired also have these qualities but are on the launch pad of their careers.
The “Magic Middle” refers to the middle layer of management that supports and aspires to senior leadership.
They illustrate the ideal team player by expressing enthusiasm, dedication to learning, and teaching. They set an example whether they are taking risks to try new ways to improve a product, going the extra mile all the time to support customers, or setting their goals and achieving them. We take the magic middle seriously because we see it as the future of our company and industry. As the company has grown, we’ve remained committed to helping develop our employees. We want everyone to reach their maximum potential and avoid plateauing.
Discover the ways in which our MediSpend culture empowers the magic middle managers to better prepare them for the future:
Step into Their Shoes
What makes a manager successful is her ability to put herself in the role of the employee and our customers. Exceptional listening skills and the patience to pay attention to what the other person is saying are a must. Most of all, you have to really try and understand the perspective of the other person. Thoughtful communication and the ability to disagree and have constructive conflict are the skills and traits that symbolize the magic middle managers.
Execute the Tarzan Approach
When Tarzan was learning how to swing from vine to vine, he fell off a million times. He failed fast and learned how to pick himself up and try again. We give our senior managers rope from which to swing and in turn they give their magic middle managers the rope they need to solve problems and ultimately succeed. We call it the Tarzan Approach. But we don’t expect people to make it across every time. In fact, we like to say that you haven’t joined the team if you haven’t failed. That’s how you learn. What is important is that we give our team the flexibility to try new things and see what works and what doesn’t. This philosophy about failing fast stretches across the office, and the senior leadership team serves as a role model for the magic middle. It sends the message that we’re all about trying new ways to solve problems.
Falling down and getting back up helps builds resilience, which is among the keys to unlocking success.
Match Them with Mentors
We match middle managers with mentors within the company, not necessarily their supervisors. The point is to help them better navigate the business and industry. They also provide guidance on experiences and assignments to pursue and serve as a sounding board when it comes to ideas and career progression. In addition, these rising stars participate in networking and training events and other collaborations both inside and outside the office that give them the chance to meet new people while honing their skills.
Provide Work/Life Balance
I have always believed in work-life balance. When I launched the business, I was a single mom. That experience motivated me to help women to chart their own course. But I also want men to have more control over their schedules and family time. So, we give our employees flexibility in how they manage their business life. People work remotely or work in the office some days and remotely others. They are not limited by geography as long as they can get the job done. Collaboration is key; geography is not.
Establish a Culture of Respect
We aim to hire ideal team players. Employees of MMIS are high achievers, who are hungry to succeed and have a drive to achieve personal and professional objectives. They work well with others and have humility and smarts. They have emotional intelligence and demonstrate empathy. Above all, we respect each other. The senior leadership serves as role models and the magic middle witnesses how we interact with each other. We don’t always agree. We respect each other’s ideas and listen to one another.
So how will you achieve your goals? If you are a senior manager, I hope you are mentoring the magic middle in your company. If you are charting your career, find an environment that fosters empathy with customers and colleagues. Challenge yourself by setting goals to chart your career path. Advocate for yourself and be sure to be paid fairly, especially if you are a woman.
More on the topic of equal pay for equal work in my next blog post.