Middle management is a demanding role. You have to wear a number of different hats: lead your team members and inspire them to perform at their best; manage the team when the wheels start to wobble; and deliver key outcomes to organisational stakeholders.
It’s no wonder middle managers sometimes feel like the meat in the sandwich. And when the sandwich is made of dollars and cents, debt and equity, then the middle manager can certainly feel the pressure.
That’s pretty much how David Anderson from NSW Treasury Corporation was feeling before attending the Middle Manager Program in November 2011. TCorp is the central financing authority in NSW. And a leading issuer of semi-government securities in the Australian market.
“I was definitely spending too much time operating” recalls David. “I was too into the detail and things were being missed at the review level” he says.
“The program helped me better understand my role as a middle manager. While I was aware of my individual responsibilities, the course gave me the skills to meet those responsibilities and achieve my deliverables in the most effective manner” he says.
David was very appreciative of the opportunity to step back from his role and utilise valuable thinking time.
“Just having the time to think, question and generate ideas was incredibly beneficial” he says.
“The program was hands on and practical” he says. “It provided new skills, developed existing skills and gave me the ‘glue’ to stick everything together.”
He recalls his enjoyment at being pushed through various exercises to move outside his comfort zone.
“From presentations in small groups to one-on-one mentoring and watching yourself in action on a video recording — the variety made each session truly different and memorable” he says.
From day one when he returned to his office, David compiled a list of initiatives he felt he could implement at TCorp.
“Some of my ideas were adopted immediately. And some were met with resistance. I’m very pleased to say they have all been taken on board now. They’re very simple, but all very effective” David says proudly.
“The course has given me new skills to influence upwards, downwards and sideways. I feel quite empowered with my new approaches to dealing with conflict, managing expectations and negotiating to achieve the best possible outcome” he says.
In so many different facets of his middle manager role, David says he is feeling more effective and capable.
“Even conducting my team’s performance appraisals this year has been more productive. By using the ‘open questions’ technique, we’ve been able to achieve more than ever before” he enthuses.
“The exercise has been more collaborative and we’ve been able to really get down to the true areas where attention is required.”
David believes the managerial skills he is putting into action position him as a more credible and confident manager within the wider organisation.
He has reflected on his strengths and weaknesses identified in the program and learnt how to develop and improve his professional performance.
“The 360º feedback was really informative and eye-opening” he says. “I’ve taken it all on board and taken action to address some of the areas highlighted.”
“I’m now more confident to chair and present at senior level meetings as well as delegate and take a step back from the operations. Because after all, it is my role to see the big picture and lead” he says emphatically.
David has immense praise for all the MMP presenters. “They have such a wealth of experience in their chosen fields and a real passion for their areas of expertise.”
If there is one criticism David Anderson has about his program, it’s that his five days “went too quickly”.
“We were all so totally engaged with the presenters that the time just flew by” he says.
David believes the program has delivered life-long benefits for him. “It has resulted in real change in my performance and in me personally” he reflects.
“It was such a welcoming environment and I rank the Middle Manager Program as one of the best things I’ve ever done!”