How to hire middle management (and not capsize the boat)

Filling middle management roles comes with a unique set of opportunities. 

You can promote from within or, bring in an outside player.  

Promoting from within and bringing in outside talent both require ongoing support, training and growth .  As a recruiter, most of the work I do is bringing in A Players to fill those roles.  In addition to ensure that the candidates are the right culture fit, it is imperative that you understand the dynamics of your Executive team’s management style and the team dynamics of the group that will be under the new hire. 

The balancing act of middle management 

A middle manager is a leader in an organization whose responsibilities fall between executive and associate level management. As a middle manager, you are the link between your team and your executive manager. You must be able to communicate with your direct reports in a respectful way while encouraging them to work hard and requiring that they deliver results.  Additionally, you have to be able to take direction, report on results of your team and balance your own benchmarks with those of your team. 

How to find a “great” middle manager

The word “great” is in quotes for a reason… what is great for one company is not great for another.  A middle manager who has beers on Sunday by the pool with her team might be the perfect fit for company A and get fired after 6 days on the job at company B.  

A successful middle management hire is culture aligned with their teams and understands the expectations of their role very clearly.  Some of the skills to look for are: 

  1. Emotional Intelligence
  2. Communication skills
  3. A curious mind.
  4. Ability to accept and request feedback.
  5. Desire to learn and grow.

The challenge for mid level managers is that they get pulled in every direction.  

To be successful, you need someone who can be strong but not overpower the executive team, motivate people without overwhelming them.  In short, you need a unicorn.  Finding those middle management hires who can balance the needs of the team and the requirements of the job requires attracting talent that may be passive.  To do that you’ll need to have either the best benefits and pay in the industry, the best culture, or the luck of the Irish.  We prefer to align with the first two. 

At CultivHIRE, we create a clear outline of your company culture.  We get to know how you operate so we can “pitch” you to candidates.  Not sure?  Take our Employer Branding assessment and let us take a crack and defining what makes your company unique and why the right A Players should come off the bench and play for your team!