Is the Operations Middle Manager Role the Most Difficult Job in the World?

Operations Middle Management

Is the Operations Middle Manager Role the Most Difficult Job in the World?

Senior leaders need to really engage, develop and provide support to their operations middle managers because something’s got to give.

Apart from having to deliver on functional KPIs, many extra responsibilities have been devolved to operations middle managers including HR, Quality, Budgeting, Health and Safety etc… They are also being asked to head up cross functional improvement projects, implement strategy and drive change initiatives. There is fierce corporate pressure to reduce costs and to do more with less resources.

We expect them to deal with a multitude of information and nearly always intrude on their personal time. A recent Jive survey suggests that 91% of employees work on their time off. I’ll bet that most of these are operations middle managers. One operations manager that I spoke to recently said that he got on average of 250 texts and 400 emails on a daily basis and that he dealt with these sitting on the couch at home once the kids had gone to bed.

The span of control in operations is broadening all the time. On a performance management workshop recently one participant described the challenges of reporting to two different bosses while having to motivate and engage 27 direct reports, hold one-to-one meetings with all of them on a monthly basis and at the same time acting as an agony aunt to a whole host of personal issues.

Root Learning has described this situation very well as ‘the canyon’  where managers are expected to implement strategy while at the same time address the legitimate demands of those that report to them.

The solution put forward is for operations managers to delegate more but very often we don’t develop their coaching and or mentoring skills in order to empower others. On training programmes the operations middle manager will usually be the one that either doesn’t turn up or will have to leave the workshop in order to handle some inevitable crisis.

OMT Global work with a large range of companies and organisations, helping them see real benefits from training. If you’re thinking about training, contact us to discuss how we can make it work for you.


Richard McCarthy

Richard joined OMT in 1998 and is head of Consultancy Services following a 14 year international career in project management, financial control and various management development roles. Richard specialises in working with Senior and Middle Management, focusing on critical Organisational Development Initiatives such as Strategy Development & Implementation, Change Management, and the roll-out of extensive Management & Leadership Development Programmes and One to One Executive Coaching. His previous work across Europe and Africa has helped him understand the impact of organisational culture, and change on managers’ ability to deliver successful results. Richard enjoys the challenge he gets from his work, especially working with clients who face difficult strategic choices or need to develop new skills & behaviours. Richard believes the rewards are satisfying when you know you have made a meaningful contribution.

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