Improve Communications Between Upper and Middle Management – Why and How?


Improve Communications Between Upper and Middle Management – Why and How?

There is one guarantee for all organizations, no matter whether they are industry leaders or laggards, all employees believe that internal communication is never good enough. From all of the surveys we manage and my personal experience as a manager, senior manager, chief executive officer and board member, internal communication is an area that should be constantly measured, reviewed and enhanced.

Interestingly, most believe that communication issues principally occur between management and their employees, we have found that this is certainly not the case. One of the greatest challenges within organizations is ensuring that mid-management is in alignment with upper management, and this issue increases with the size of the company and the inherent complexities that have to be navigated.

What needs to be recognized is that the priorities for upper management can be, and are usually, very different to the priorities of middle management. Upper management should be highly strategic in their approach (looking to and planning for the future) whereas middle management is highly operational (managing for today, next week and next month). It is not uncommon for these conflicting priorities to clash and cause internal conflict and disharmony. Improving communication is the key.

Over the years I have found that the following process consistently delivers improved outcomes in this area:

  1. Upper Management are requested to clearly articulate their strategic vision and the medium-term priorities
  2. Middle Management are requested to clearly articulate any current operational roadblocks
  3. Using the above information to develop an online survey that promotes anonymous feedback from both upper and middle management on the strategic vision, organizational priorities and operational roadblocks
  4. Distribute survey results to all managers for individual review
  5. Schedule a workshop for all managers to discuss the survey results and facilitate agreement on the future strategic vision and organizational priorities (allow middle management to have input into these strategic outcomes). Also, discuss current operational roadblocks in particular upper management’s consideration of redeploying assets to assist with roadblock resolution.
  6. After six months, conduct an online survey to measure progress in all of the above areas
  7. Repeat every one or two years (depending on the business type)


About the author

Mark PurbrickMark Purbrick, Founder, Multirater Surveys.

Mark has over 35 years of management experience, 23 of these years at general manager or chief executive officer level, and over 30 years of board director experience for both private enterprise and government-controlled entities. With extensive experience in hospitality, retail, production, agribusiness, direct marketing, government and people analytics, Mark is able to assist clients to make the right business and people capital decisions.



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