How can GCC firms get the best out of middle management

Frontline managers – or middle management – play a pivotal role in planning, organising, leading and coordinating resources.

Just as strong leaders are invaluable in setting the organisation’s vision, strong managers are required to communicate and operationalise that vision.


However, these changing times present many challenges for businesses – particularly middle management where the pressure to perform increases, with the expectation to do more for less.

Take for instance the different roles present within an organisation. A retail manager is responsible for more than $50m in annual sales, while a banking manager will need to ensure the satisfaction of more than 7 million customers in one year. With so much responsibility and increasing pressure, it is imperative that these managers focus on driving growth and improving productivity. However, this is not always the case.

The average professional in the UAE spends a lot of time at the office. According to Morgan McKinley’s Working Hours Survey UAE, 24 per cent of professionals work an extra 10 hours per week, and 53 per cent of those working beyond their contracted hours do not feel their productivity is increased as a result of the extra time spent in the office.

But what happens during the nine hours that are spent at the office? Despite the fact that every job includes some tasks that are not part of the job description, there’s often a discrepancy between job titles and what workers spend their time doing. While around 59 per cent of our time is spent on billable tasks, the remaining 41 per cent is usually spent on paperwork, lengthy meetings and largely administrative tasks.

Enterprises today – both large and small – spend significant amounts of time, resources, and money on manual administrative work, from arranging flights to using emails to booking appointments, or filing an IT request. But these daily administrative tasks create productivity losses to organisations as a whole. Not only is this trend causing managers to be less productive, it is also constraining an organisation’s ability to access one of the most crucial avenues to business growth – innovation.

Studies show that up to 36 per cent of mid-level consultants face gaps in administrative assistance, while 67 per cent of business owners struggle to focus on the primary purpose of their business due to the administrative burden. It’s clear that organisations need to change their approach in order to innovate and grow.

This growth can be boosted with the effective delegation of some business tasks to a virtual executive assistance that can enhance productivity, efficiency, and overall process management. SMEs and frontline managers that quickly adopt this progressive assistance into their business stand the greatest chance of achieving smooth operation and long-term success with the highest probability of sustainable growth.

Here are five essential measures that managers at enterprises – both large and small – need to implement:

1) Identify low-value tasks. Knowing exactly what is required will help managers to build momentum. Review your daily activities and decide which ones can be delegated or outsourced. With seven out of 10 professionals in the UAE reported to be working longer than they plan to, there are several expendable tasks and administrative activities that could be dispensed.

2) Drop, delegate or re-evaluate. Sort tasks and activities into three categories: Drop, delegate or re-evaluate. Identify low-value tasks that can be dropped without any negative effects. Identity mid-level tasks that can be delegated with minimal effort. And lastly identify tasks and activities that need to be restructured.

3) Delegate and prioritise. Delegation is the most challenging part, but is ultimately rewarding. Delegating tasks to a virtual executive assistant can be seamless, freeing up time for strategic initiatives.

4) Allocate freed-up time. Determine how best to use the time saved in driving productivity for the business.

5) Optimise. In order to survive, many businesses try to offer as many services as possible, multitask or use a ‘do it yourself’ approach instead of optimising their expertise. By finding your business’s unique selling point and concentrating on it, you will be able to stand out among your peers and beat the competition with less investment involved.

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6) Commit to the plan. An important step is to share plans with colleagues, mentors or other senior employees to ensure that managers commit to the plan, sets internal targets and strive to achieve them. A system in place that tracks performance throughout will help managers measure their activities.