December 15, 2016 Last updated December 14th, 2016 1,838 Reads share

3 Ways to Support & Empower Your Team as a Mid-Level Manager

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As a mid-level manager one of the most important things to do to ensure your success and the success of your business is to support your team members and demonstrate to them that they’re valued. Not only is it important for morale and production, it’s the right thing to do.

One common challenge many mid-level managers face is that they may not be in a position to promote their team members, offer a raise, or pay a bonus as a reward for good work. Often, this sort of decision cannot be made without the approval of senior management.

Senior management may not see the value added by your “worker bees,” and as a result petitioning for a promotion can be challenging, even if your team consistently produces terrific results for the company.

I’ve run into this issue as the supervisor of a small SEO team. Some of the folks I supervised joined the team with minimal SEO experience. As a result they started at a low hourly rate which reflected their lack of experience. But these colleagues demonstrated a real knack for the work and learned technical skills quickly. This made them very valuable to the organization within a year on the job. I desperately wanted to retain them and preserve the technical expertise they’d acquired.

The problem I faced was that several of my now well-trained team members were now making far less than their skills would command if they were to apply for similar work elsewhere. Despite petitioning the head of the marketing department for over a year for an increase in pay to reflect their value and ensure that we could retain them, I could not get my department head to approve a suitable raise.

As a manager it’s a frustrating position to be in, but if you’re a good manager you can’t give up on your team.

Instead, you should get creative.

If you aren’t able to secure what you want for your team members in terms of a salary increase or promotion, find other ways to make them feel valued and appreciated.

Here are a few strategies you can use to support and empower your team, even if you can’t get them a raise or promotion.

#1. Make Gestures to Ensure They Feel Appreciated

Small gestures go a long way and won’t cost you very much. Offering to get your team a coffee or taking your team members out for a one-on-one lunch can be a great way to show appreciation. A special lunch also allows you to check-in with colleagues, ask how they’re doing and talk about their goals. This can be a great way to show that you value their ideas, contributions and presence in the office, and it will probably only cost you a few dollars.

Small touches like remembering a birthday or purchasing gift cards during the holiday season to reward a year of solid effort can help to ensure your team members know that their work is appreciated. It won’t cost you very much, and it’ll help ensure their morale is high and they do their best work for you.

#2. Foster an Environment of Growth and Learning

Even if you don’t have the power to offer your employees the raise or promotion you feel they deserve, you can help them grow professionally. Make a point to send your team members resources and educational materials that will help them to gain skills and confidence. This will also keep each of your colleagues feeling that they’re moving forward with their career. If you can teach them a new skill that will help them do their job better, take the time to do it.

Invest in them.

One approach you can take is to send a weekly email to the entire team with a few articles or resources and a short summary of your opinion on the topics. Asking what they think is a great way to engage your group in a team-wide discussion and encourage the open sharing of ideas.

Alternately, you can make this effort more personal by sending unique and customized resources or articles which you find, or even articles you’ve written about topics in your industry on an individual basis, so team members receive something directly related to what they’re working on, or what you plan to assign to them next. This helps each member of your team understand that you’re taking a personal interest in their professional growth and are going the extra mile to help them succeed.

This will cost you nothing, and it communicates to your employees that you genuinely want them to gain skills, knowledge and insight as your colleague.

#3. Recognize Achievement and Effort

Saying thank you and highlighting special effort and individual or group achievement on your team will go a long way toward boosting morale and making your team members feel valued. Something as simple as saying, “That’s really good work, Shelley, I appreciate it!” out loud where peers and colleagues can hear it is a wonderful way to instill a sense of pride and accomplishment in the members of your team. It’s also a great way to motivate under-performing team members to raise their game and earn this sort of recognition themselves.

When appropriate, celebrate the special successes of star performers. Share their work with the entire team you supervise. Send out an email, briefly explain how they went the extra mile and achieved a desired result. Make a point to CC your department head on that “Atta-boy!” (or “Atta-girl!”) email, so that your team understands that you’re not only appreciative, but you’re also an advocate for them. Your team will appreciate that those in charge of salary decisions and promotions are being reminded of the important daily contributions they make.

Doing Your Best to Get Their Best as a Mid-Level Manager

These three strategies cost very little, but as a mid-level manager they are all great ways to support and empower your team in tangible ways.

One advantage to taking a positive, nurturing approach to management is that you’ll earn the respect of your team. Another is that you’ll acquire a reputation in your department as a fantastic person to work for and with, which will go a long way toward helping your career.

How about you – if you’re a mid-level manager have you faced this problem? How did you overcome it? If you’re an employee who has sought support from management what made you feel valued or empowered? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image: 3D rendering, Circle of red and golden people joining together empowering the team to achieve the goal, business concepts. isolated on blue gradient background with clipping paths and copy space.

Joe Hessert

Joe Hessert

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