Middle managers are a critical link between the team and c-suite.

Middle managers have the daunting task of leading their team, handling customers, managing suppliers and meeting the boss’ expectations. They stand between the reality of a team that needs their time and a boss who may give them more than they can handle. Those at the top don’t always concern themselves with the problems facing their subordinates.

The dilemma arises when these middle managers try to decide how much should I tell the team?

We live in a very competitive world. Customers expect speed and quality at rock bottom prices. Some people do not react well to stress and challenging circumstances. Most every company has a rumor mill which spreads bad or incomplete information faster than the truth. The team needs to know what challenges the company faces and they should hear it from their boss first. They need to know the truth and be included in developing solutions.

Tell them what they need to know to motivate them.

A potential challenge can help them understand why they need to cross train, improve productivity, boost yields or serve more customers. Your team needs to know what your metrics are so they can help you and each other. Make sure they understand where the data comes from, why it matters and how they can help. Empower them to make changes and take strategic risks.

Tell your team what you believe to be the truth.

Talking to your team about how the company is doing gives them the opportunity to kick it in and help. They may have skill sets that other departments could use. Stress the importance of quality work every time. Stress the importance they play in the big scheme of things. There is no reason to hide anything from your team. Should a layoff happen, the decision you will have is which team member to cut.

You need your team to be united in purpose and solidly in your corner. Tie their performance to real world metrics – your metrics. Open, honest and frequent communication prevents the rumor mill from operating at all. People have loads of energy when they are making a difference. Show them that they are. Express your gratitude every day not matter what the scorecard might say.

Image source: Daniel Mingook Kim on Unsplash