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An Upper Hand For Middle Managers?

The improving economy has set off a tug of war between middle managers re-evaluating their current positions and employers who want to retain managers who have developed and sharpened their skills during the recession.


Boston – As the economy and job market improve, there are more employment opportunities for middle managers. They are in a better position to determine whether to jump to other employers or remain with their current companies, some of which are anxious to retain their experienced and battle-tested talent, according to ClearRock.

The ranks of middle managers were devastated during the recession as employers trimmed their work forces, cut management levels and laid off managers. Some of those who were able to keep their jobs took on more responsibilities for the same amount of or less compensation and greater number of direct reports.

New middle managers were created, too, by promoting lower-level employees into supervisory roles, sometimes without providing them with the necessary training and coaching.

“With the economy improving, some companies are adding back management levels to reduce the number of workers their managers manage, increase productivity and relieve stress. Some organizations that trimmed middle managers have since experienced lower morale, productivity, employee motivation, and higher turnover, and are looking to improve these results through developing and promoting from within or hiring from outside,” said Annie Stevens, managing partner for ClearRock (, an outplacement and executive coaching firm based in Boston.

“The improving economy has set off a tug of war between middle managers re-evaluating their current positions and employers who want to retain managers who have developed and sharpened their skills during the recession,” Stevens said.

“Unemployed middle managers with a track record for achieving goals as well as increasing productivity and improving morale are also getting a closer look by employers,” Stevens added.

ClearRock offers these recommendations to middle managers on how to maximize their opportunities.

1. Closely examine career development and advancement opportunities with your employer. “Talented middle managers are in the position to ask for coaching if they are not already receiving it. Also, organizations that are serious about retaining them will help them develop a career path with timelines for advancement and compensation rewards for achieving goals and objectives. If these benchmarks are missing, it may be time to consider taking your skills elsewhere,” said Stevens.

2. Appraise the job market. The increased responsibilities and knowledge that some middle managers have gained with their current employers may be more valuable with another organization. “Explore whether a new employer will offer more developmental and advancement opportunities than your current employer. While compensation should not be the only factor in deciding whether to make a move, managers whose pay has been virtually flat for the past few years may want to acquire a better deal,” said Stevens.

3. Quantify the value you have brought to your employers. “Current employed middle managers should quantify the difference they have made in their jobs – increases in sales, decreases in costs, reducing turnover, etc. These are also numbers that laid-off middle managers should use to employers along with a detailed explanation of how they achieved these results in past jobs,” said Stevens.

4. Demonstrate your readiness to advance to the next management level. “Companies want middle managers who are adept in leadership, strategic thinking, motivating others, building teamwork and communications, as well as managing others. Show you possess these characteristics and are either currently ready for the next management level or could readily attain it with the necessary development and coaching,” said Stevens.

5. Validate your proficiency in hard technical skills as well as soft people-oriented skills. “Middle managers who are first-rate in their technical expertise and oriented toward leadership and developing direct reports will have the best job prospects,” added Stevens.

About ClearRock

ClearRock’s leadership development process helps link business objectives, vision, and direction with individual development of key leaders in the organization.
 We guide individuals to successfully reach their goals using a direct but supportive coaching style. We integrate the most effective elements of systems and behavioral theory with leadership development practices. We follow a time-tested, 5-phase methodology that includes establishing an internal team to support the individual.
Our track record with client companies speaks for itself – repeat business, long-lasting client relationships, and numerous advancements for our coaching clients. Our mission is to become long-term advisors to our clients, while providing the highest quality leadership development services in the industry.


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