Middle manager careers and duties vary by industry, level and organization. However, some basic roles of middle managers are fairly universal. A middle manager is different from executive managers, who guide an organization, and front-line managers, who engage workers and customers. As a mid-level manager, you usually have a significantly task-oriented role. Education in business administration or management and demonstrated leadership in front-line roles usually help you join mid-level manager ranks.
Managers at all levels of an organization set goals. Top managers set goals that provide the framework for operations, activities and employee tasks throughout the organization. The job of a middle manager is to develop division or region objectives that align with the company vision and goals. Then, the mid-level manager communicates goals, strategies, tactics and policies with front-line managers. Goals and strategies provide direction within a company's sub-unit that helps in developing cohesiveness among front-line managers and their employees.
Strategic development and planning is necessary at all management levels. Front-line managers develop strategies that are specific to carry out out sub-unit goals, but that align with company goals and strategies. The growth strategies of a regional manager in a new territory are different than those of a middle manager in an established region, for instance. A manager in a developing territory might seek out new property locations to develop, whereas the manager of an established region looks for systematic improvements and other ways to grow customers and revenue.
One of the most distinct roles of mid-level management is resource allocation and utilization. While top managers often set budgets and front-line managers have cost control responsibilities, it is regional, district, division or general managers that often make the most critical resource utilization decisions in a company. Mid-level managers invest money in training and development, materials, supplies and technology. They also make policy decisions on staffing for stores or business units. They also establish what equipment, materials and supplies are needed in each business unit to achieve optimum production or results.
Managing people is a critical role that virtually all managers take on. In this area, managers delegate tasks that employees complete and motivate them to do so in an effective and efficient manner. What distinguishes mid-level managers is that their emphasis is usually on developing front-line managers. They train store or unit managers to motivate and lead front-line sales, service or production teams. Often, the upward mobility of a front-line manager is based on her ability to develop new middle managers.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.