A New Attitudes for Supervisors
Changes in corporate structure over the past several years have led many supervisors and middle managers to question their roles and responsibilities. To some of these people, the changes appear to be a death knell for anyone who is not either top management or support staff. The truth, however, is that middle managers can become even more integral than in the past simply by changing their objectives and refocusing their energies.
Sarene Byrne, senior vice-president and Eastern division manager of The Forum Corporation, a Boston-based organization that provides management training and consulting advice to business, believes the change in corporate structure "has not been dramatic, but it has been substantial." Far from seeing the changes as detrimental to business in general, Byrne views today's situation favorably, claiming that "this is a wonderful and exciting time to be in business."
To be sure, cautions Byrne, such issues as economic globalization, increased competition, deregulation, and downsizing of corporations should be of significant concern to all managers. The way for middle management to show its importance is to become more participative, she says, "to show that innovative, money-saving ideas can and should come from the bottom up."
One mindset Byrne feels must be eliminated is that of the first-line supervisor as the bottom rung of the management ladder. "I don't think we should consider anyone as too low in management. The fact is that you have a group of employees, and smart organizations know they should listen to all of them."
Today's supervisor cannot rely on the "bread-and-butter" issues--performance appraisals, disciplinary procedures, and such--that were so much a function of middle management a few years ago. Byrne stresses the importance of middle managers creating a climate that promotes the discussion and implementation of new ideas. "Managers have to remember that people who report to them often know more than those managers do about their specific jobs," she says. "The manager who feels a need to control people and doesn't allow for new ideas to …