Stuck in the middle | Collective Next

Stuck in the middle

March 15th, 2024

For the past couple of months, we’ve been exploring challenges faced by the various “layers” that make up organizations. And here’s a fun fact about layers: one of them usually finds itself in the middle of the others, squeezed from above and below.

This isn’t always an easy place to find oneself, or to work within. Organizational Leaders—the mid-level managers, those responsible for most of the people management at an org—face challenges that are unique to their position and that aren’t always fully appreciated. How can you keep this layer of the organization feeling engaged and energized? Most importantly, how can you help them feel more connected to the rest of your organization?

The perils of disconnection

One of the biggest challenges faced by Organizational Leaders is a feeling of disconnection from the team’s larger purpose. And you can hardly blame them: these “mid-level” leaders aren’t meeting with the CEO every day or privy to every strategic decision being considered by the senior leadership team. Instead, they are often focused interpreting those strategic mandates, translating them into actual, day-to-day work for their own team. These leaders become bogged down in that work, narrowly focused on the important effort that’s right in front of them.

The end result is that these critical players in your organizational ecosystem end up feeling…stuck. Stuck in a cycle of feeling disconnected from the org’s larger strategy and culture; stuck in the race to keep up with the demands of their direct reports. In short, the folks in this layer of the org find themselves increasingly isolated from the other layers of the ecosystem.

Fortunately, there are any number of ways to help Organizational Leaders develop a deeper sense of connection with your team’s strategy and purpose.

Solutions for Organizational Leadership

Leadership workshop

This effort involves bringing the entire layer of leaders into a room for three days. The agenda for the workshop is simple: activities and discussions aimed at finding alignment, acceleration, and amplification. At the end of three days, leaders will feel “bought in” to the larger strategy, and you’ll discover any number of insights into how to actually execute that strategy.

Leadership development

After completing a workshop like the one described above, you’ll find that some of the new ideas discovered will require new skills to bring them to life. This solution is focused on helping your leaders hone or develop those skills: things like facilitation training, people management courses, or bespoke “ways of working” tutorials are just a few examples.

Foster leadership community

Don’t just get back to your day job after the above efforts have wrapped up: it’s critical to keep the conversation going. Develop a set of cohorts and establish the means by which those cohorts and communicate and collaborate.

Don’t slow down

Solutions like these can help the mid-level, organizational leaders in your ecosystem find a new sense of momentum and purpose. And when they do, everyone in the wider organization will feel the results.

We’d love to speak with you about the challenges you’ve noticed for this particular layer of your organization. Let’s find some time to talk!

Immersive Web Experiences / Alexion Culture Transformation Story

This external facing website is designed to showcase the culture transformation that Alexion underwent since 2017. The site utilizes an innovative scroll-based animation design, and also featured a cross-team effort that included creative, production, and digital teams.