How Middle Managers Can Make or Break Supply Chains

Can middle managers or supervisors make or break your supply chain company? Are organisations selecting the wrong people for these roles?

Middle Managers

To watch the video of this article, click here.

Over the years working and consulting in a wide variety of business, health, and education settings, I have noticed a common and obvious trend. The selection of supervisors or middle managers from the existing employee pool.

For some workplaces this is a smart choice. You know the person, their work history, and their technical skills, and, as the senior manager or company owner, you generally like them.

Plus, it saves a truckload of recruitment time, costs and fees.

Capability Struggles

So what’s wrong with this common practice?

Well it depends. Often the successful employee displays all the seemingly right characteristics: reliability, dependability, happy to go the ‘extra mile’, and deference to their superiors!

But what happens when they now have to supervise and direct their former colleagues? Did they suddenly get an USB stick full of management and leadership skills to download into their brain?

Did that person immediately demonstrate new behaviours, negotiation skills, creative and collaborative thinking, and ability to motivate their team? Probably not.

They usually struggle big time with the change. They’re like a duck on a pond – seemingly calm upon the surface, but paddling away furiously under the water.

They have no idea how to manage and lead their people. The shelf life of these middle managers is around two years if you’re lucky.

Some senior managers may think, “when they resign or burnout, I’ll just promote someone else”.

Cultural Harm

But what’s the real issue here for your company? It’s culture destroying. Supervisors or middle managers who are thrown into the deep end of the pool without a buoyancy vest usually sink.

And they will take down the rest of the workforce with them.

It’s usually a slow insidious slide:

  • grumblings from workers,
  • dissatisfaction on how they’re being treated or spoken to,

with a resulting in a decrease in productivity, increase in accidents (real or concocted), sabotage of company assets, absenteeism, and an unhappy workplace.

Why would any CEO or business owner want that?

What can you do?

Invest in them – train, educate, coach and mentor them. A one off induction just won’t cut it. It takes time, practice and a willingness to master new skills.

If you have ever been motivated by a inspirational person at any time in your life be it a footy coach, church leader, primary school teacher, or the old guy/gal next door, then you know how it affects you and your environment around you – in a great way!

So why not get your newly appointed supervisors or middle managers on the leadership bus?

The ROI will be worth every cent! You’ll have functioning teams, increased productivity, less absenteeism and WorkCover claims, and a place employees want to continue working for.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?!

Learn more about developing leadership skills, both your own and your team’s, and get to grips with some great life and style thinking at