Project Management

The Message from the Middle

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Middle managers are a valuable communication channel between the C-level and those on the front lines. Are they getting the communications support they need in your organization?

In many (if not most) companies, corporate communication is cascaded through middle managers to their direct reports. That seems to work fine for the employees. In a recent national study, 59 percent of employees at companies with workforces of 1,000 or more reported that they prefer to get most of their information through their managers.

But what do their managers think about this system? Many middle managers would like a little help from corporate. Especially newer middle managers who may still be learning what is expected of them — both from the people they report to and the people who report to them.

Companies often make the assumption that middle managers are top-notch communicators, without providing the training to help them be great stewards of the organization’s messages. For instance, in the same national study, 66 percent of direct managers said they want training to help them communicate more effectively with their teams.

Communication training for middle managers offers two important benefits. The most obvious one is that it improves the company’s process of cascading corporate information through the ranks. But another benefit is retention, of both …

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