Middle Managers: Balancing Creativity and Structure in the Workforce


  • Corporate America is depending on Middle Managers to balance creativity and structure
  • Too much structure can stifle growth and dry up any ambitions your employees hold
  • Too much creativity can result in a lack of structure causing uncertainty

Tug of War between creativity and structureThere seems to be the genesis of an unsettling environment in Corporate America. On one end, creativity is blossoming exponentially; new ideas and technology are growing at a rapid pace. On the other end, structure and process management cling to maintaining reproducible behavior and outcomes. The question is, can managers maintain a balance?

Those who have been in the workforce for a while have seen the rise of creative thinking. Using different platforms to gather, analyze, and disseminate information allows people to communicate and take action faster. Creative thinking has allowed space for cross-training- where employees learn multiple positions and can quickly fill in where there are gaps.

However, allowing people to take quick action and “fill in” when needed could lead to errors and burnout; there is something to be said about allowing the process to work and taking time to see the whole picture before taking action.

In addition, it’s hard on employees when they don’t know how they are held accountable and if they are meeting expectations. When hired to perform a task but crossed-trained in multiple tasks the line blurs who is responsible for what, thus leading to a handful of employees doing the majority of the work while others defer the workload.

Finally, having structure builds consistency: consistency in the product, consistency in behavior, and consistency in the culture. However, too much structure causes unnecessary bottlenecks, limits growth, and ultimately leads to a dry environment where individuals feel less valued and more like a body to fill a gap.

Middle managers are the solution to balancing creativity and structure in the workforce. They guide and coach their team to think outside the box and set clear expectations to guide them toward accountability and ownership.

It is critical that middle managers learn how to balance creativity and structure, coach their team, and guide them toward a healthy structured environment without constricting their abilities.

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