One of my favourite TV shows is Undercover Boss. The show almost always has a lesson about communications in that directives from head office often don’t translate well in the field – proof that one way communication is not effective. So how can companies avoid the trap?
The answers aren’t always simple. But one thing that resonates for me in every show, is that the people who have to carry out the directives feel they don’t have a say or a voice.
Part of the problem is that the language and style of the Boardroom is very different from that of the shop floor. Adding to the problem is that the relationship between executives and shop floor employees can be seen as adversarial. Pity the poor middle managers, who by the way are never shown.
Middle managers are the ones who know the language of the boardroom and the shop floor and can be the key to enabling effective communication. Unfortunately, the middle manager is often neglected when it comes to communications. In turn, they feel squeezed and impotent.Middle managers are often neglected when it comes to communications. Click To Tweet
Excellent companies provide consistent and progressive coaching, training and support for middle managers, giving them the tools they need to; build teams, communicate effectively and effect changes. The result is a healthy respect for individual skills and roles and a real sense of team. I would love to have the producers of Undercover Boss go back and find out how much has changed one or two years after. I am willing to bet, the success stories are found in “the middle”.