Midlevel Managers

Lena J. Weiner, July 23, 2015

In our January 2015 Industry Survey, 71% of respondents describe their leadership team as strong or very strong, while just 50% can say that about their midlevel managers. HealthLeaders Media Council members discuss the imbalance.

This article first appeared in the July/August 2015 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Tom Dandridge
President and CEO
The Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties
Orangeburg, SC

Thomas C Dandridge
Tom Dandridge

This imbalance is rooted more in the change in expectations we have of midlevel managers than anything else. When I first started in this business 40 years ago, managers just counted noses and made sure we had enough people to work. But now we expect a lot more from them.

The challenge has been to further develop managers as the environment has changed, and I think that's really the reason some of us feel that our midlevel managers are not as strong as we would like to see them be. But it's really important to figure out for ourselves that it's possible we're not developing them as well as we should be.

It's human nature that we senior leaders can be blinded to our own perspective, but we've got to spend more time talking to our managers. To empower them, we need to ask them questions. Do they understand management concepts? Do they understand what effect they have on their units? Do they understand how they must behave differently than they did before to accommodate and establish change?

In the C-suite, not only do we have to develop our managers, but we must recognize that the midlevel is where the rubber hits the road. I could talk all I want to about cost efficiency, but unless a midlevel manager implements cost-efficient measures, they're not going to happen. It's the midlevel managers that bring plans to life.

Lena J. Weiner

Lena J. Weiner is an associate editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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