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Last updated: 22.12.16

Do you need to develop your middle managers

A company’s middle managers are often the backbone to operations but how can you know when they need development training?

Although not the most senior members of staff, businesses do well to pay close attention to their middle managers. They act as a backbone to any organisation as they provide management and are responsible for at least two lower levels of staff.

Sometimes middle managers can be overlooked, but the importance of individual skills and characteristics can be especially significant when measuring performance in industries and fields that value innovation.

According to Ashridge Executive Education, 48 per cent of HR professionals believe building a strong leadership team is the most pressing talent capability challenge within their organisation. Middle managers’ knowledge of processes and networking make them powerful leaders and because of this, their ongoing development and training should be a priority.

Here we take a look at how your business can develop their middle managers.


Middle managers are responsible for bridging the gap between senior members of staff and those who have less experience within a business. This means that they need to communicate well and listen closely to all members of staff by being analytical and able to problem solve in various situations. Employers should also encourage middle managers to lead by influence and build credibility.

A learning culture

Ask yourself - do your staff feel they can ask for training? If you make it clear that your business supports training and values the improvement it can bring, your workforce will feel comfortable approaching you, or your middle managers, if they feel the need for further training. It is also a good idea to encourage your middle managers to speak up if they have identified an area they believe training is needed.

Over the next three years, some 51 per cent of HR professionals say their training budget will grow, according to Ashridge, which means that if you don’t intend to invest here, maybe you should reconsider this.

Constructive criticism 

No matter what level an employee is working at, feedback and support is crucial to their development. Middle managers should also be fully aware of their performance and this can be done by conducting regular personal development discussions to go over any questions or concerns they may have.

In addition to this, it is worth asking frontline workers and senior members of staff about their manager's performance to build an overall image.

Revamp your development training

Any business in any sector should be aware that it is much more cost-efficient and effective to train and develop the workforce you already have, rather than have to rebuild it and frequently recruit. Internal training will help to preserve institutional memory and knowledge within your organisation.

Traditionally, employees who receive little training can leave their jobs within the first year as they associate this with no or slight room for improvement. This highlights the cruciality of development and career progression within a company.

To increase staff retention, employers should promote career progression and personal development opportunities as well as focusing on developing the staff they already have. This can be done by encouraging existing staff to apply when internal vacancies arise.

Encourage collaboration

While it may appear to make more sense to provide the bulk of training and development resources to senior and executive managers because of their responsibility, the majority of your workforce may prefer to report to a middle manager.

This is why it makes sense for employers to focus on training their middle managers just as much as the c-suite workers. Collaboration between staff working on different levels should also be encouraged as generally, employees learn better in a team. Businesses should also implement a mentoring programme so that middle managers are provided with support from senior executives.