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Rise Of the Middle Manager?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012
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There used to be a time in America when the term "middle manager" was an aspirational position.

Then came the great flattening of organizations -- and the position became an endangered species in the jungle of business professionals. Reports now show the middle manager is making a comeback in importance.

Indeed, in New York-based PricewaterhouseCoopers' 15th annual global CEO survey titled Delivering Results: Growth and Value in a Volatile World, 50 percent of the respondents identified "recruiting and retaining high-potential middle managers" as their chief talent challenge.

The survey -- of 1,258 CEOs based in 60 countries -- was designed to discover how businesses are preparing for growth in their priority markets. Talent is a major theme in the study, with two-thirds of CEOs saying it's more likely talent will come from promotions within their companies over the next three years.

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Other U.K.-based research titled The Missing Middle: Exploring Learning Experiences of Middle Managers in the U.K. underscores a growing importance of middle management in retention and strategic leadership, yet woefully inadequate training and engagement at this level.

Tom Davenport, senior consultant at New York-based Towers Watson, says "HR's first job is to redefine the role so that managers [can] make the most of the learning opportunities organizations should provide."

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