Harvard Business School

The continuance of the recession has led to many firms not adequately investing in their middle managers to the extent that they should.

This lack of planning means that quite often there can be a gap in expertise, which quite often is vital for businesses to maintain their competiveness. Research compiled by Harvard Business Publishing showed that 46 per cent of businesses admit to poor investment in their next generation of leaders.

The global research has shown a great disparity to exist between the value employers say they place on their middle management layer, compared to the amount they are willing to spend on investing in their future performance. The results indicated that there had been a twenty per cent drop in investment for middle management and this was nearly across the board, with four out of five employers admitting to having not spent sufficient resources on such a value resource to them.

Executive Vice President of Corporate Learning at Harvard Business Publishing explained, "the linkage between a strong leadership pipeline and long-term market leadership is critical for any European organisation." He continued by recognizing that "unfortunately, their commitment to development hasn't carried through to mid-managers. Europe is facing a challenging economic time, and it's vital that firms ensure the leadership development of mid-managers, as they are critical for the future. Successful development enhances effectiveness and accelerates the advancement of mid-managers in the leadership pipeline, driving stronger business performance today and tomorrow."

The research did suggest a ray of hope in this area, however, with the expectation that investment in this area was set to increase over the next one to three years. It would seem that businesses are become aware of the potentially huge impact their neglect for middle management could have on their businesses future. As such they are realising the vast importance of investment in this area now.

Justin Dunn, Head of Organisational Development at BG Group, added "the 'frozen middle' is often a missed opportunity for companies today. Managers who sit between the operation and the senior leadership team feel increasingly isolated. They have so much to give but are frequently ignored by companies who prefer to invest in their new employees and senior's leadership teams. The frozen middle however, is the backbone of any organisation and companies need to listen to their needs to help give them the tools and techniques to help drive the company forward. Let's defrost this layer, bring them into the conversation, and release their ideas and energy."

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