CASCADE: More than a dish detergent

Ten-plus million strong in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It’s a number relatively unaffected by the economy, but one that’s been impacted emotionally.

America’s middle managers, many argue, are the essential layer between leaders and front liners.  They create and innovate, develop talent, make decisions, ensure that tasks are complete, and, in general, do more today than ever before.

Others eschew the very name, claiming their organizations must avoid the morass of bureaucracy and embrace boss-less freedom.  Executives of that persuasion (usually leading tech start-ups) insist that the middle represents dead weight, micro-management, and other negatives.

We over-stand.  But, then, how do businesses accomplish the “what” they need to do?  And more important (to us, at least), how do they get the word to the troops about the “what” – and make sure that staff continually follows the corporate North Star?

The first answer that crops up:  Cascading, or the process of sending messages from the top to the bottom, from executives to, say, customer service executives.  Sure, it’s a tried solution.  But it doesn’t work in most cases.  Managers forget.  It’s not in their performance goals, so there’s no urgency.  The communications get re-interpreted.  Employees don’t understand – and the wherewithal to explain and elaborate isn’t readily available.  Ad nauseum.

In our opinion, it’s a lazy person’s solution.  It’s all too easy to scribble notes on a PowerPoint document and then distribute it to supervisors to reinforce the strategy, the initiatives, the goals.  Yeah, solutions aren’t plentiful; see if you agree with our takes on …

  • Town Halls:  Must be reinforced.  
  • Videos, audios, animation, print:  Good for a one-shot intro only (if you get that chance to make a first impression)

Which leaves us with face to face.  Yet it too needs to be repeated – and demands time and attention.  One substitute might be collaborative communities, enabling them to spread the words.  Another:  Trying to get viral with internal social media, if it’s up and running well. 

There’s no conclusion … yet.  What’s worked for you in reaching the Sandwich Population?