Middle Management Involvement in Strategy - Management Essay Example

 

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The main aim of this paper is to provide study on the company strategic management.  How it helps organization achieve their goals with through its effective application.  This paper will mainly focus on the involvement of middle manager’s in the strategic management process, which is carefully discussed through the standard concepts and studies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Middle Management Involvement in Strategy

 

Introduction

 

Most organization these days aims on studying how they can provide easy and efficient services for their customers as well as with their staffs.  This can also be observe in manufacturing industries, where the production units are being look into by companies on how they can efficiently produced products fast and efficient but also safe.  This is mainly the trend now for most companies.  Innovativeness has become the main competitive edge for most companies and this changes the global economy.  Most managers these days do not anymore stick with the old and traditional process, which most of the time the main reason of their downfall.  Today, companies invest more on efficiency, security and innovativeness, and no matter how cost it may incur them during the initial stage, it doesn’t matter.  Because, for these companies, they would know that reaping the benefits through the use of this advancement will soon come and stability in their process and more efficient organization will be achieved.

Managers play a vital role in making all of these in reality.   Like in the case of middle managers, which they are the main person who are in close interaction with the staff and at the same time directly reporting to top level managers.  Middle managers are those who are expected to be the one effectively implementing the process and at the same time provide efficient feedback to the top managers are expected to produce better results.  But this has to be done carefully and it needs to have a lot of study and observation as well as compassionate feeling in order to effectively do the task.

The Standards of Strategic Management

 

Global Strategic Management

 

In this global trend in business, where companies are continuously expanding and typically local businesses are already a thing in the past.  The competition these days is to go global, these globalization trend has made companies to assert themselves to stay in the business and be prepared in the very competitive level of business which nor only quality and costs are important.  In order for this globalization to be achieved, companies must apply these factors as the main sources of competitive advantage from a global strategy.  This includes: (1) Efficiency, where company must have access to more customers and greater markets.  This can also be seen to other companies who made their presence to more countries abroad and has seen operational flexibility and better production cost; (2) Strategic, always aims in providing the most unique and effective product to the market which gives clear advantage; (3) Risk, have formulated strategic approach in analyzing and managing risks, which carefully applied through the different locations where they operate; (4) Learning, continues research and development is applied in the organization, most especially doing study on how to produce more quality product and more efficient service, and lastly, (5) Reputation, which means that the company has gained respect from customers and in the business.  Through its continuous development in the business and the better feedback that comes from customers.

Most managers, in order for them to have a better understanding on how sources of competitive advantage be mapped with the required and standard strategic objectives.  Because, through this process, managers will have an easy way of analyzing the current status of the company and what strategy must be applied.  (See Figure1).

 

Figure 1

 

In the figure above, it shows how a company they can apply their global competitive advantage over their competitors using the three most important strategic objectives.  These also assist companies to better implement their process according to the objectives, with company exploiting and focusing only on their main edge and further enhancing that advantage with their competitors will make their business achieve stability and better productivity.  This will also be reflected on the generated revenues and satisfaction from staffs through efficiency in processes applied within the company.

There are also drivers that companies really focus in order to achieve competitive advantage, and these are: (1) cost drivers, carefully studying best cost for each locations; (2) Customer drivers, finding the most efficient and reliable customer service for customers; (3) Competitive drivers, continuously finding better ways on how to leverage business with competitors and also for customers satisfaction; and lastly (4) Government drivers, compliance to global and local trade policies and laws which is also important for the company, most especially when it comes to employee management, providing above industry standard benefits and compensation and improving it would make the company be well appreciated by staffs and management.

In this globalization trend, it is also important for managers, most especially middle managers understand the different types of international strategy, which is multi-domestic and global.  For multi-domestic, the approach is product is customized for each market, this means that customization of processes and product is developed per each location, depending on the result of study.  While, for global, it applies one product and services across all locations.  This is mainly applied by a manager who has proven standards in the global market.  Examples are Mc Donalds, Fujitsu, Sony, IBM, etc.  These companies apply mostly standard approach in their processes.

In this strategic management in the current global trend in business, it shows that it all start from the company vision or objective.  The main task of middle managers is to effectively implement these objectives through mandated processes, effective management of staff and lastly is the better study of the current economy.  That is why it is important for company to have managers who are not only technically inclined but also have better management skills and people skills, because this makes work easier.  (Global Strategic Management, n.d.).

Hierarchical Levels of Strategy

 

In a typical organization, there are levels or hierarchical levels of strategy being followed.  Middle managers must also need to understand this one, since it will help them on how escalation processes and coordination with other teams is done, which will help them I effectively performing their job.  It consists of three levels: (1) corporate level, these are top executives of the company, like the stockholders, board members and officers of the company; (2) Business Unit Level Strategy are top level managers who directly reporting to the president or other officers if the company.  They provide directions of the company and also the main source of encouragement for all the staff and middle managers.  One of the main objectives of this group is on how the company can achieve competitive advantage and stability; lastly, (2) Functional Unit Level Strategy, this is where middle manager belongs, they are the ones who follow direction and guidelines from the business level unit managers.  They translate business requirements to technical design which is used by their staff.  They must also careful in the translation of the requirements, because that is the common problem by middle managers, they usually perceived by what they have applied in their previous project and not carefully studying the requirements.  Usually, there should be series of meetings and peer reviews that must be conducted with the business managers and technical leads of the middle managers in order to develop the solution that is required by either the management or their customers.  (Hierarchical Levels of Strategy, n.d.).

The Strategic Planning Process

 

The effectiveness of middle mangers must also be carefully is pattern on how they apply the different stages of strategic planning process.  It provides managers not only middle managers a detailed guidelines on how to perform strategic planning.  (See Figure 2).

Figure 2

 

In the figure above, it shows five stages of strategic planning process.  For Mission and objectives, these are only the main focus of the companies, directions and aspirations or the main objective of the company that needs to be achieved.  Environmental scanning is where managers, most especially middle managers study the current status of the firm and their team, like for instance studying the needs of the staff in order for them to provide better output and also the resources needed.  The analysis can be a combination f internal and external studies and observation. On the third phase, middle managers formulate strategies which can be customized depending it still align with the main company objectives.  Fourth, strategy implementation is simply the actual use of the strategy which must carefully be monitored if it is really being applied by the staff.  Like in the case of middle managers, where they are the main front liners of the company, they must guide their staff on how it should be done, because through better management, better time management and quality results may be achieved.  In the last stage, evaluation and control, this only means that it is common that not everyone follows the process well and religiously, there are still instances that other staffs fail to follow it, either through difficulties in understanding the process or just a simple as neglecting to follow the process.  In this case, middle managers must provide a better training and control for the staff for them to constantly look at the process as essential to their work and not just there to be just ignored.  Additional to that, sometimes middle managers in order to effectively sure that it is being followed there must be some strict rules and penalties, also recognitions or reward be applied to make sure if it is really being followed.  (The Strategic Planning Process, n.d.).

SWOT Analysis

 

One of the most commonly used approaches by middle managers in performing their tasks is SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threat) Analysis.  This is one of the very fist management strategies that until now works well in the business, most especially for the managers.  In the previous discussion about the strategic planning process, SWOT analysis is mainly focus on the environmental scanning since the management would like to study the current status of the company and this is carefully shown in the SWOT Analysis Framework.  (See Figure 3).

Figure 3

 

In the figure above, it shows how middle managers should analyzed the current status of the company and that is by separating the internal and external analysis.  And from the internal and external analysis, provide a meaningful matrix that will correspond to the current status of the company.  In the strength, the company must look into their main advantage, which can also be further use in strengthening their operation.  The strength is also the unique advantage of the company against their competitors.  For weaknesses, these are the needed changes and weakness of the company which is needed to be focus on.  Opportunities, on the other hand is something that the company must also take as their advantage but still not being focus more at the present.  And lastly are the Threats, these can either be internal or external threats, like mass turnover of staffs and competition problems.  The company can also apply the SWOT matrix which will help middle managers in identifying it clearly what needs to be focus on by the company.  (See Figure 4).

Figure 4

 

In the presented figure above, middle managers can identify what is needed by the company that will be applied in their strategy.  This is very effective tool for middle managers, since they know what needs to be prioritized in their group or team.  (SWOT Analysis, n.d.).

The Value Chain

 

To further assist middle managers in performing their tasks through the results of their analysis and matrix applied in SWOT analysis.  Middle managers must also study on the value chain, which will help managers identify the different activities that they need to focus on.  These activities is carefully selected and approved by the entire management team, with the middle managers as the main contributor, since they are the ones who perform the actual job with the staff as well as accepting feedback from customers.  (See Figure 5).

Figure 5

 

Related Studies and Proven Impact of Middle Managers in the Company’s Strategic Management

 

An International Perspective on How Middle Managers Applies Formation Process

 

It was proven that empowering middle mangers as well as their respective staffs provides a big impact in the success in the organization.  Before, typically top management is the only group given the task to provide leadership in the organization.  Until competition and globalization is becoming a key to competitive edge and strategic implementation in a company which separates true performers to those who are just pretending to be one in the business.  Empowering middle managers and giving them importance on how they can perform their task by the management is really giving organization the well needed performance by every team in the company.  It also helps potential leaders and managers in the company to perform their best effort since they know that the management will value their contribution.  This value contribution will then be converted to revenues and even improved business processes in the organization.  This also helps improved customer satisfaction, since staffs and middle managers are well motivated to do their best for the company.  (Andersen, T.J, 2004).

The Middle Managers Involvement in the Strategic Process

 

The involvement of middle managers in strategic management has proven effective for group of middle managers in the study conducted for the twenty different companies.  In this study, it shows that the result of the formation and consensus of group of middle managers in formalizing the strategic approach of the organization has help in the success of the organization.  This also proves that with the solicited advise and actual experience of middle managers in applying their jobs has been an important key in formulating the strategy, this is because the experiences, activities and problems encountered by the team managed by the middle managers are enough to help management succeed in coming up and implementing the right strategy for the company.  (Wooldridge, B. & Floyd, S, 1990).

Effective Management Fail Safe Mechanism

 

In order for middle managers perform their task effectively and efficiently, there is called fail safe mechanism that they can apply.  This mechanism helps middle managers to identify or anticipate problems and at the same time how they can provide solutions to it.  This is simply a list of questions that need to be answered by middle managers themselves.  And form the answer that they will be giving, it should have reliable and well tested solutions that they can apply to resolve these possible lists of issues.  The lists will be evaluated as if the company has it, or already has it or something that the company has it and need to improve it, or it can be analyzed as something that the company have it but needs to be removed.  These questions would really help middle managers in identifying problems easily.  (Change Management Fail Safe Mechanisms, 48 Checks and Balances: Structures to Influence Behavior, n.d.).

Understanding the Culture, a Key for Effective Middle Managers

 

It is true that managing culture in the organization is very important for middle managers to address.  With the effect of globalization it is important for managers to study on how they implement the process to its customers as well as its staff.  With the growing importance of outsourcing these days, where companies hires foreign staff and doing business in the different location in the world.  Organizing cultural differences has become a very important factor to be considered.  Middle managers effective adjustment in the culture of its staff has resulted to better management and job satisfaction in the organization. (Carney, M, 2006).

Middle manager involvement in strategy development in not-for profit organizations: the director of nursing perspective – how organizational structure impacts on the role

In non-profit organization the difficulty of organizing is very evident.  This is very evident in healthcare services where most medical practitioner needs to be guided in order to perform their task efficiently.  Organizing a team in healthcare services is tough, middle managers task is vital in organizing the team.  Take for instance in healthcare programs that needs to be implemented in a specific location.  Medical practitioners even they would know what they need to perform, it is still important for them to be advised on how they can provide their service in the specific location.  The work of the middle managers is to provide them the important and most relevant information before the project starts, because in this way they can prepare themselves on what kind of services are needed to provide.  Like the demographics, the status of the area, like security and current and even population study of the area.  With this information it will be helpful for healthcare personnel in providing the right services.  And this was proven through the series of interviews, observation conducted by healthcare experts which is used in their further findings on how services can be improved and customer or client satisfaction be achieved in a certain area which must also be studied differently in a per location basis.  (Carney, M, 2004).

Middle Management Involvement in Strategic Management

It is proven that middle managers involvement in the preparation of strategic management for the company has given companies an edge in performing the real business.  It does not only guide top level management but also gives the needed direction to staffs in performing their duties.  It also helps companies in performing the process effectively which can also be further improved if companies provides a better housekeeping of these processes for the management to re-used it for future use.  This also helps management in identifying other improvement areas, which also helps company to achieve greater stability and progress.  (Floyd, S. & Wooldridge, B, 1992).

Conclusion

In this paper it clearly shows that middle managers involvement in setting up management strategy is very important.  This is because middle managers are the main person that deals with both top level managers and most especially in close interaction with staffs.  With these tasks given to them, makes them a reliable person in the strategic setting of the company because they know the real issues in the company and even sometimes customers as well are directly reporting on them, like escalation of issues in the actual work environment.  It was proven in this paper through some of the studies conducted by some companies and agencies on how middle managers have provided reliable information for the company.  That is why; middle managers need to be given the right support and assistance in order for them to perform effectively in their tasks.

References

Carney, M. 2004, ‘Middle manager involvement in strategy development in not-for profit organizations: the director of nursing perspective – how organizational structure impacts on the role’, Blackwell Synergy, January 2004, [Online], Available at: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2834.2004.00388.x?journalCode=jnm

Carney, M. 2006, ‘Understanding organizational culture: the key to successful middle manager strategic involvement in health care delivery?’, Journal of Nursing Management, Volume 14, Number 1, January 2006 , pp. 23-33, Blackwell, 1 January 2006, [Online], Available at: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/bsc/jnm/2006/00000014/00000001/art00004;jsessionid=2iqtedxsdodmm.alice?format=print

‘Change Management Fail Safe Mechanisms, 48 Checks and Balances: Structures to Influence Behavior’, Haines Cente for Strategic Management, n.d, [Online], Available at: http://www.centreconsultant.com/strategic-management/fail-safe-mechanisms.html

Floyd, S. & Wooldridge, B. 1992, ‘Middle Management Involvement in Strategy and Its Association with Strategic Type: A Research Note’, JSTOR, Summer 1992, [Online], Available at: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0143-2095(199222)13%3C153%3AMMIISA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-B

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McKenna, S. 1994, ‘Leveraging Complexity: The Middle Manager’s Dilemma’, The Learning Organization, Emerald, 1994, [Online] Available at: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do?contentType=Article&hdAction=lnkpdf&contentId=882471

Oswald, S., Mossholder, K. & Harris, S. 1997, ‘Relations between Strategic Involvement and Managers’ Perceptions of Environment and Competitive Strengths’, SAGE JOURANALS Online, 1997, [Online], Available at: http://gom.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/22/3/343

Parnell, J., Carraher, S. & Holt, K. 2002, ‘Participative management’s influence on effective strategic diffusion’, ACCESS my LIBRARY, 22 September 2002, [Online], Available at: http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-2735651_ITM

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‘The Strategic Planning Process’, Quick MBA, n.d, [Online], Available at: http://www.quickmba.com/strategy/strategic-planning/

 

‘The Value Chain’, Quick MBA, n.d, [Online], Available at: http://www.quickmba.com/strategy/value-chain/

Torben, J.A. 2004, ‘Integrating the Strategy Formation Process: An International Perspective’, ScienceDirect, 31 May 2004, [Online], Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V9T-4CHBRHC-8&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=e57c7fc5037042caf1c34735a39295f7

Wooldridge, B. & Floyd, S. 1990, ‘The Strategy Process, Middle Management Involvement, and Organizational Performance’, JSTOR, Mar to Apr. 1990, [Online], Available at: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0143-2095(199003%2F04)11%3A3%3C231%3ATSPMMI%3E2.0.CO%3B2-7

 

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