War on All Fronts: Managing Employees & Pleasing Your Boss

Jim Harkless
Managed Retreat launch
Managed Retreat launch (Photo credit: London Permaculture)

Middle management can feel like one of the great jokes of modern business. Getting screamed at from on high while having to assign blame, resolve seemingly petty conflicts, and juggle so many hats you can’t see straight are all just a day in the life of a manager in the trenches of our slowly recovering economy. Yet managers have the ever-important task of balancing the demands of upper management with the needs, limitations, and skills of your front line workers. With some skill and tact, you can deftly maneuver the landmines of middle management and keep your boss, your people, and ultimately your customers happy.

Whether your position focuses on project management, sales, operations, or marketing, it’s key that you utilize the tools at your disposal to do your job well. It is incredible how many workers are squandering time and energy because they do not even use the technology the company has invested in. This could take the form of web-based project management software, sales or inventory front-ends, or other tools. If your organization has provided collaboration software, it’s important to use all its features like online document management, permissions and file sharing, and collaborative editing to help your employees work as a team.

Sometimes, organizations are stuck using older software. If you’re using Microsoft Project or other locally hosted office programs, you might be hamstrung from the start. Rather than resigning yourself to using familiar tools like MS Project every day, you can use your clout to show leadership teams the benefits of modern cloud-based software like Basecamp or Workzone. Of course, this doesn’t just apply to project management software; teams should always be looking for ways to innovate, constantly upgrading the utilities they use each work day to improve productivity.

Ultimately, you as the manager are the bridge between the top of the organization and its worker base. Yes, you have to both manage the desires of those under your supervision and meet the expectations of those higher than you in the company’s hierarchy. While that can sound harsh and difficult, the very best managers will rise above, getting the most out of their department or branch and fulfilling the company’s vision at the same time.