Middle managers disillusioned

by 06 Mar 2007

AUSTRALIAN BUSINESSES must better recognise the factors driving dissatisfaction amongst middle managers, otherwise low levels of engagement among such managers could affect performance and achievement of strategic goals.

Research conducted by Accenture found that just 42 per cent of Australian middle managers were satisfied with their current place of employment.

Furthermore, 60 per cent said they would consider changing jobs, while nearly one-third were actively looking. The top reasons cited for searching included better pay and benefits (31 per cent), and improved conditions and job prospects (both 14 per cent).

“For the most part, middle managers care deeply about the future of their organisation and their roles in that future, but they are, to a certain extent, the ‘frozen middle,’” said Peter Cheese, managing director of Accenture’s human performance practice.

“Their success depends on having a sense of security and a belief that executives understand their concerns and are taking some action. In leading companies, senior managers address these issues through clear communications, direct engagement and performance goals linked to rewards and career progression,” Cheese said.

Australian middle managers awarded top marks for working conditions (61 per cent) and training (52 per cent) but functions relating to work support and incentive programs rated poorly.

However, the survey of more than 1,400 middle managers in nine countries across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia found that compensation (38 per cent), advancement prospects (34 per cent), benefits (31 per cent), and channels for communicating bad news to subordinates all received low scores.

“Middle managers are one of the most critical parts of any organisation. The majority of employees report to middle management on a daily basis. If they are not happy, this sentiment is often transferred down into the workforce,” Cheese said.

HR professionals can play a key role in solving these issues by understanding the concerns of middle managers, according to Cheese.

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