Communication Leadership Org Culture

Blaming Middle Management

As a consultant, one often sees leadership blaming middle management for the ills of the organization, especially, when the culture of the organization is not what leadership desires. In fact, consultants make money on this trend, e.g. “Go train them to…”, “go fix…”.blaming-middle-management

Recently a leadership group I was working with remarked that somewhere the impression had been created that the strategic plan favored part of the organization at the expense of the other.

My response: If the impression was created, it came out of this room, either by failure to support the plan, communicate its true intent or to take responsibility for assuring that the true message is communicated uniformly throughout the organization. A corollary theory is that when confronted with dissatisfaction or even questioning of leadership’s plan, members of leadership back away from the heat; hence betraying the team they are pledged to be loyal to.

My take is that in general, blaming middle management is a means of top management avoiding responsibility for unsatisfactory outcomes in the organization. Taking responsibility means 1) seeing the problem vs. avoiding, 2) defining a solution and 3) assuring that the solution is implemented/works.

Peter Lencioni in his terrific book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, advises that management teams need to honestly answer the question, “Are you more loyal to the team that works for you or the management team of which you are a part?”. Too often it is the former, which leads to organizational silos and the inability of an organization to effectively execute an overall strategy.

I would enjoy starting a conversation with you on this topic. Drop me an e-mail.

Bill Dann