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Raymond Harris
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3 key reasons why highly resilient organisations regularly review senior and middle management

Being resilient isn’t just about the tech, nor is it limited to preparation of a plan. The quality of your organisations management has a lot to do with your organisations predisposition to failure during times of turbulence, shock or sudden change. In very simplistic terms, leadership is about inspiring your people to achieve what they thought they could not. Management is about ensuring your people meet their set objectives within your organisations operational framework. There is obviously heaps more to management than we have time to address in this article, however the importance of the role of the senior to middle manager should not be underestimated, particularly in terms of the influence these people have on culture, staff and performance.

If you are an executive manager i.e. CEO / Owner / Founder, ‘C-suite’, Managing Director etc it is likely you employ a group of direct reports that take the shape of department or business unit heads. These ‘Head of…’ type people likely have a bunch of line managers reporting to them, with responsibility for managing operations, costs, performance, staff, projects, clients, risk etc. At your level, you might be trying to effect organisational change, attract investment, enter a new market, drive up the share price and/or improve growth and profitability. However, given your leadership role and your ‘C-suites’ strategic focus, the implementation part of your plan is left to the business unit heads and their line managers – leaving quite a large gap between you and the revenue generators.

That being the case, here are a few thoughts as to why you should take another look at the people you employ in both senior and line management positions:

Apathy. How long have your senior and/or middle managers been in place? Did you hire them or were they existing? How motivated are they? Are they genuinely still engaged in the business? Do they come to work with the same enthusiasm they did 5 years ago? Are you clear as to exactly why you retain them and the value they add? People are human and it’s natural to become comfortable in a position we have held for some time. That said, there is a big difference between being comfortable and apathetic. No matter whom they are or what they do, if the plan supports a change of management – don’t be afraid to shake things up. A “rusted on” manager can destroy staff morale, inhibit growth, increase staff turnover and impact performance all as a result of becoming apathetic towards their responsibilities.

Performance. When was the last time you completed a 360 degree evaluation of your senior and middle managers? How do you know they are still the right people for the job? The business environment is constantly changing and people need to be able to keep pace, adapt and change with it. Just because a senior or middle manager was the right person for the job 5 years ago, it doesn’t mean they are necessarily still the best person to take your plan forward – regardless of their skills or experience. 360 degree feedback will provide you with invaluable insight into the manager’s attitude, personality and management style to assist you in making informed decisions as to their future in the role. You will also get a feel for their level of workforce acceptance, or lack thereof, leaving you bearing the sunken costs of potentially unnecessary staff turnover.

Innovation. Modern, progressive organisations are becoming successful by thinking outside the box. Innovation has moved from being a millennial buzzword, to a strategy that is genuinely driving client and shareholder value. Innovative approaches to people management and its link to performance has been exemplified by organisations such as Google, Apple and Facebook. Technology and communications have changed who we are, how we work and where we work from. Are you confident that your organisations management team has embraced your view on innovation to the full extent possible? Innovation is here to stay. It is driving value for our clients and our people and should be leveraged as much as possible, within the organisations accepted risk tolerance levels.

Highly resilient organisations start and finish with great management who foster an amazing workplace culture. Gone are the days where people had a job for life. Business is now exposed to constant change and uncertainty. Managers need to have capacity to adapt, change and stay relevant. If you are part of your organisations executive team, now is as good a time as any to complete a “health check” on your organisations senior and middle management tiers, with a view towards reinforcing the importance of these positions, independent of people or personalities.

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Raymond Harris

Ray Harris is Managing Director and Principal (SCEC Endorsed) Security Consultant at Inverus Group Pty Ltd, with a focus on risk, resilience and security related functions and disciplines.

He specialises in assisting his clients become more secure, compliant and resilient; enabling them to thrive in times of uncertainty and increased operational complexity.

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