For many employees today, middle management is probably the least desirable rung of the corporate ladder. Just the term “middle manager” will often illicit an eye roll and a common tale about micromanagement and pointless meetings. Yet more gets done in the middle layers of a company than anywhere else. While executive leadership focuses on strategy development and top line initiatives, middle managers are in the trenches executing on those directives.
According to the Wall Street Journal
, almost 11 million Americans work in a non-executive middle management role. Compare that to the Department of Labor's count
that only 238,000 Americans work as executive leaders, and you can see why there’s an increased interest in how to fortify the middle layers of a company. In fact, a recent Harvard Business Review survey
found that 85 percent of respondents think their companies’ leadership pipeline would suffer unless their middle management development programs were strengthened.
Adding to the equation is a rising tide of restlessness among middle managers. The Harvard Business Review
found that 48% of Gen Y professionals — the core of mid-level leaders — planned to leave their current job within two years. That’s a troubling number for many employers, and there’s not an easy remedy to this problem. Baby Boomers are staying in their leadership positions longer than anticipated, and that lack of opportunity for advancement is causing unsustainable rates of employee turnover. Mid-level leaders can also feel overlooked or expendable despite their vast responsibilities, which isn’t exactly ideal considering they’re often tasked with cultivating employee engagement throughout the rest of the workforce.
So, what can be done to strengthen the middle layers of your company and decrease turnover among mid-level leaders? A greater investment in middle management development programs is proving to be a key coping strategy. For example, Center for Growing Talent by PMA’s High Performance Management Conference (HPMC)
offers produce and floral industry members a unique chance to reinforce training for their managers and other mid-level positions.
“Take it from the Wall Street Journal, mid-level managers are an essential layer in any company – they turn top-line strategy into day-to-day action,” said CGTbyPMA Executive Director Margi Prueitt. “Our unique leadership development program helps our industry to optimize these managers’ skills today, and to groom them for leadership in the future.”
By seeking out programs like CGTbyPMA — or developing one themselves — executives can better leverage their mid-level leaders. And there’s no denying that when mid-level leaders are at their best, so is everyone else. Now it’s all about helping them get there.