Four Faces of the Fully Functioning Middle Manager

by Bernard Keys, Robert Bell



Since the very beginning, the status of middle managers has been much more demanding and dubious. Middle management is crammed with conflicting expectations and frustrating demands. Managers in middle ranks must simultaneously present the proper face upward to their superiors, downward to their employees, laterally to their peers, and outward to outside groups. Each middle manager may have more or fewer contacts with each of these groups but most middle management jobs include contacts in all four areas. This article examines each profile of conflicting demand, along with its accompanying face. It suggests that given the four directions, the fully functional middle manager must face and the conflicting role involved, there are strategies that may prove helpful. Middle managers should study and identify the interpersonal contact patterns and role expectations of the job. They should analyze whether there is a stronger need for subordinate contact, superior contact, boundary-spanning relationships, or peer relationships or all are equally important in the particular role? Then they should determine ways in which the explicit relationships can be improved.

California Management Review

Berkeley-Haas's Premier Management Journal

Published at Berkeley Haas for more than sixty years, California Management Review seeks to share knowledge that challenges convention and shows a better way of doing business.

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