Why does the middle (middle management) matter?
A topic of much discussion at a recent Talent Management Executives event hosted by The Conference Board, the questions were put to Kris Routch, an executive consultant with leadership development consultants Development Dimensions Inc. (DDI); and William Shepherd, SVP for Human Resources with one of the Midwest's larger banks, Huntington Bancshares.
Reflecting on the challenges of a generationally and culturally diverse workforce, Shepherd started off by leveling with the audience: "This isn't your father's mid-level position" we're talking about.
So, how is middle management changing across corporate America?
Routch and Shepherd laid out four key points:
- Making tough decisions: Middle management today has much more responsibility than ever before in the history of business
- Driving performance in a changing world: Due to years of efficiency cuts and an economic recession, there are way fewer layers between middle and top leadership, leading to a larger span of control.
- Managing horizontal integration in a complex organization: The middle has gone global. Today, middle management's tasks stretch internationally.
- Leading and developing talent: These managers have a lot more stakeholders holding them accountable than ever before. The hierarchy no longer keeps you constricted to your immediate boss and immediate subordinates. Today, management includes external and internal stakeholders (customers, communities, social organizations, employees). And talent management is no longer just a human resources function.
Shepherd went on to add that these are not just the byproducts of a technology-driven global economy, but rather the direct results of a crippling economic recession and inherent to the 21st century's frugal corporation.
As he put it, "Earlier, mismanagement meant lower profits, now it's all about survival."
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