Middle Managers Make Corporate Change Easier

Compiled By Michael A. Verespej During times of radical organizational change, companies should think twice about giving middle managers the pink slip, says Quy Nguyen Huy, assistant professor of strategy and management at INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France. His recently completed six-year research project found middle managers are often more critical to achieving change than senior executives. Among the reasons:

  • They know what it takes to implement value-adding entrepreneurial ideas.
  • Their strong social networks give them significant informal leverage to get people on board.
  • They stay attuned to employees' moods and emotional needs.
  • They are skilled at managing the ongoing tension between keeping the company working - continuity -- and pushing radical change. "If senior managers dismiss the role that middle managers play -- and carelessly reduce their ranks," says Huy, "they will drastically diminish their chances of realizing radical change." The study identified middle managers as any manager two levels below the CEO and on level above line workers and professionals.
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