Business Brains

Be prepared for the coming flight of the middle manager

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Executives responding to a McKinsey Quarterly survey conducted in July 2009 about the demands of the downturn report that it has certainly made work l...

Executives responding to a McKinsey Quarterly survey conducted in July 2009 about the demands of the downturn report that it has certainly made work life much more interesting. But companies could be in for some turnover in the ranks of middle management when the economy turns around, according to the survey results. Not surprisingly, they have been squeezed more than their colleagues on the job.

That's because more than half have taken on additional responsibilities, often without extra pay. What's more, McKinsey's data shows about 27 percent of these managers (compared with 18 percent of all the executives surveyed) find their jobs less meaningful today than before the crisis. Just 36 percent of the middle managers are "very" or "extremely likely to be with their current employers two years from now. That compares with about 52 percent of the entire survey demographic. Middle managers are also more likely to hold their tongue about tough decisions when their points of view differed from those of more senior managers.

When that starts happening, you have to wonder how effective they can really be.

If you're a senior executive, it would be smart to cast your eye within and spend some time motivating middle managers who may be feeling put upon after months of gut-wrenching decisions and operational realities. Ask yourself how painful it would be to lose individuals key in executing on your downturn strategy.

And if you're a middle manager, it's time to reconsider whether or not it is smart to stay in your current position. Your bargaining power may not seem all that significant right now, but all signs suggest that it will grow over the next year. It's time to speak up again as your company prepares for new economic realities or take your skills elsewhere.

This link will take you to the complete leadership article from the latest issue of McKinsey Quarterly.

If you are responsible for managing even just one other person, this article is a sanity check that is worth the read.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure