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Feb, 2018

Midlevel Managers: Give them back the power!

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As the cornerstone of corporate business, midlevel managers directly affect customer satisfaction and the company’s performance. However, based on a study conducted by Boston Consulting Group in partnership with the human resources group of the Science Po Alumni and shown to a hundred HR managers, these midlevel managers remain nevertheless generally unrecognized.

A prominent place in the organization of companies

Midlevel managers supervise 50 to 80% of employees in a company and are in direct contact with clients. They represent a crucial link, in charge of ensuring the cohesion between the decisions made at the top of the hierarchy and their implementation.

Non-quality” is expensive in terms of profit and client loyalty: according to estimations made by the BCG, it would lead to a drop in profitability between 16 and 22%; also “non-quality” is also detrimental to employee engagement.


A poorly defined and rarely acknowledged position

66% of the interviewees found that the position and responsibilities of the midlevel manager are not well-known. Moreover, only 32% of them believe that their training is adapted to the new challenges of the job.

Unfortunately, these managers’ role does not seem to be recognized as strategic. In fact, their decision-making power remains limited: only 40% of respondents believe that midlevel management has decision-making power that allows them to be effective.

This position needs to be redefined and better supported.



Managers stuck in complexity

Despite being a pivotal position among employees and customers, midlevel managers are too often trapped in complex organizations where they are side-tracked from their primary mission: to manage and motivate their team. Fanny Potier, a senior Boston Consulting Group expert and author of the study, complains: “Midlevel managers are at the heart of company performance. All the leaders say it! Yet, they are not able to play their role fully. This population is mired in the complexity of daily internal processes and does not bring the expected value.”


In fact, a large part of their time (between 30 and 70%) is lost doing tasks that have no added value (inconclusive meetings that take them away from strategic decision-making, reporting); the productivity and profitability of the company is affected by this loss of energy. Per the BCG study, three quarters of these managers have an executive role.

Give them back their autonomy by simplifying the hierarchy. Separate the career paths of experts and managers to take advantage of both skillsets. Finally, provide them with resources to be able to better support their teams, who require different managerial skills”, advocates Fanny Potier.

It is also necessary to allow these managers to work on the right topics, namely transformations and close supervision.

In conclusion, as highlighted by Frédéric Gautier, president of people EMEAR de Dassault Systems and co-president of the HR group at Science Po Alumni: “If the leaders and HR directors are convinced of the key role played by midlevel managers, they therefore have to be supported to be able to fully fulfil their role of manager. To do this, they must be involved in the decision-making process and enhance the value of their managerial function. In the context of the transformation of companies that we are currently experiencing, accelerated by the digital and technological revolution, companies must act quickly so that these managers can really play their role.”

 And to take action, think of Skillspotting: thanks to our background in management, provide your team leaders with quality training. Do you want to take stock of the skills of your midlevel managers and help them progress? Opt for our assessment and our development centers, with the key being the construction of personalized action plans.


Sources :

Le Manager intermédiaire, intégrateur de la complexité, Boston Consulting Group en partenariat avec Sciences Po   Alumni, décembre 2017 : https://www.bcg.com/Images/Etude%20BCG%20Sciences%20Po%20Alumni_tcm96-179327.pdf

– Les clés du management intermédiaire, Manager Go ! : https://www.manager-go.com/management/manager-intermediaire.htm

Crédits photos :

@ Saravoot Leng-Iam/ 123 RF

@ bloomua / 123 RF

@ alphaspirit / 123 RF