Ideas for Handling the Middle-Management Who is Either Too Complacent or Too Aggressive

Ideas for Handling the Middle-Management Who is Either Too Complacent or Too Aggressive

Middle managers often have one of the most difficult and important jobs.  They have a smaller role than the executive but it tends to carry an enormous amount of responsibility.  Oftentimes, these positions are the glue that holds the day-to-day operations of the company together.  At the same time, however, these positions also take most of the blame when things go wrong.  Unfortunately, some of these middle managers aren’t making things easy for the employees who work for them.  On one hand you might have an overly aggressive manager who kills the morale of the entire team.  On the other hand you might have a manager who is so complacent that it’s difficult for their employees to respect them.  In these instances, it’s up to the manager’s manager to come up with ideas for how to turn these unmanageable managers into productive managers.


Taming the Abrasive Manager

It’s one thing to have a manger who is assertive, knowledgeable, and well-organized, but when that turns into abrasiveness it’s quite another thing.  Aggressive bosses are those who like to micromanage their team, call them out every time something goes awry, and create somewhat of a “fear” in their employees.  While they might see it as “just doing their job,” their employees usually see it quite differently.  Abrasive bosses tend to rub their staff the wrong way with their aggressive management styles.  Their words and actions create friction among the team, leave their employees feeling uncomfortable, and ultimately disrupt the flow of work.  These abrasive bosses can also cause endless headaches for their bosses, who struggle to rein them in and struggle to handle the flow of complaints from distressed employees.  So how do you tame the abrasive boss who works for you?  The first step is to understand who you are working with.  We commonly think that these managers are just crazy, lack personal skills, and live to torment those under them.  However, the exact opposite is usually true.  The majority of these aggressive bosses have a deep desire to succeed and they want to be seen as competent.  Therefore, at the first sign of incompetence from an employee, they attack.  The second step is to remember that most aggressive bosses don’t see themselves as being aggressive.  They simply think they are doing their job, so they don’t realize the impact of their behavior.  In these instances, it’s necessary for the higher manager to intervene.  It is critical that these managers are taken aside and dealt with.  First, they need to be made aware of what they are doing.  Second, it’s important to make them care enough about their position to change.  Third, they will need help in making changes in the form of internal mentoring or external coaching.  Turning a blind’s eye is not only unacceptable, but it’s unethical.  Intervention is necessary to help both the aggressive boss and their team work together successfully.


Handling the Complacent Manager

On the exact opposite of the spectrum is the complacent manager.  This manager might ignore issues and conflicts within the office.  They might be late turning in work and they might avoid holding employees accountable for their actions.  This can put a bad taste in the employees’ mouths.  It’s difficult to respect a manager who is lazy, lacks ambition, and doesn’t offer help to his/her employees.  After all, employees look to their manager as a role model.  Therefore, it is critical that superiors step in and deal with this type of manager right away.  One thing superiors can do is create an anonymous survey in which employees are asked about their manager.  They can present this information to the manager to make them aware of how their employees perceive them.  Next, it’s time to hold that manager to the same standards as their employees.  They should be given performance reviews and goals to meet.  If the manager knows their job is on the line if they don’t perform, they are more likely to be more enthusiastic about it.  Proper training should also be provided to these managers.  It is important to encourage a learning culture in the workplace, starting with the top leaders.  Finally, superiors can offer incentives to managers whose teams are performing well.  This is a positive way to encourage managers to work hard and boost morale.  Complacency is a danger to any organization and can destroy a company’s success.  Superiors need to keep middle management energized so that energy is carried throughout the rest of the office.