Ok! So I Read the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, and saw all the movies. So have many of us I am sure.
The reason for the title is because the theme of this post focuses on the talent each company has at their own middle management level that is not reaching its potential. I can speak of it because it is where I live.
Most blogs on Leadership come from current leaders, and most are wonderful to read, learn from and upon which to gain inspiration. At the same time they are a view from above or maybe in this case upper earth. We all need that view of success. We need to hear from the best of the best and I am taking full advantage of the amazing amount of available information. In the mean time there are many talented people here in Middle Earth that are not getting the mentoring, development opportunities and learning that will help them to the next level.
My background has been primarily in Retail Management. I have worked for several highly recognizable retailers and many of my thoughts are influenced by that experience. My guess is however that retail is not the only place this happens. In every company for which I have worked I had the opportunity to be involved in a Management Training Program at the store level and in some cases at the District Level. There were two similarities throughout. First the classes were 95% about operational management. Second the classes were for a position I already had.
I am not in any way saying these classes were unimportant. They definitely have their place in ensuring you are able to do the job at hand. What’s disappointing is that in every case that is where the tool box has closed. Training classes, or on-line training courses that talk about leadership, real customer service, marketing or other skills that help get you to the next level are left out of the toolbox. In many companies, especially retail companies they are scarce if available at any point..
Let me express to you that one of the biggest causes for middle management and lower team members to become disengaged is no way up. It is seeing their company fill positions above them with people from outside the company or industry. To not recognize talent that is already there to be nurtured and developed for the next level being passed over because the company has not taken the time or made the investment to help them get ready. Yes, the team member plays a big role in getting ready when given the tools to do so. Are companies giving them the tools? In most cases no.
The reults of this can be damaging to the foundation of a company, its people. It blocks a true development of the bench and sends recruiters scrambling any time a surprise opening takes place. It causes unwanted and unneeded turnover in middle management and below. There needs to be a real focus on not looking out for talent, instead looking down to middle earth. That is where the seeds are. That is where the bricks of your foundation will be found. And that is where your most loyal team members are if you give them a chance to grow. Think Middle Earth, and find the talent in your company.