How to Find Out What Managers Want

To provide support to your middle managers, you first must assess their needs.

By Kathryn Tyler Jun 1, 2016
​​​While middle managers share many of the same challenges as other employees, it’s a good idea to gain insight into their specific struggles. Methods for assessing their needs include:

Employee surveys. Look at the results of culture surveys to determine the strengths and weaknesses of middle managers by region or department and then provide necessary assistance, advises Russ Elliot, founder of the Conscious Culture Group.

Focus groups. “Allow them to speak up and share what they are feeling, what is impacting their ability to get work done, rather than just assuming what they are facing,” says Stefanie Mockler, a consultant for Vantage Leadership Consulting. Organizational consultant Melinda Stallings, SHRM-SCP, suggests asking open-ended questions such as “What three things would you like to improve in your area?” and “What are your greatest people challenges?”

Exit interviews. Barbara Moy, SHRM-CP, manager of people and culture at CaseWare International Inc., likes to ask exiting employees if they have any suggestions for improving management. “Your manager, like any other employee, wants to improve,” she tells them.

Employee relations problems. Take note of the departments that have the most complaints or disciplinary actions. While those might simply reflect the nature of the work or the skills of the workers in those areas, they could be the result of an ineffective middle manager. “Data is your friend. Document the amount of your time spent helping middle managers. What issues arise frequently?” Moy says.

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