MBA Program Students in Middle Management: Lessons to Date

William Woods Business

The need for middle management—a layer of managers at a level just below senior administrators—has been a debated topic in the business world.  In 2011, Harvard Business Review published a column by Lynda Gratton, titled “The End of the Middle Manager” which argued that technology has in a large way replaced the duties of middle management.

Similarly, Business Insider, Forbes, Psychology Today and numerous other publications have discussed the issue of shrinking need for middle management. Technological advances are enabling automatic performance monitoring, feedback and report generation—duties traditionally performed by middle managers.  While this level of management is often criticized for lack of technical input and unnecessary approval process resulting in slowed decision-making, these intermediate executives often describe their positions as workload-heavy and authority deprived. Also, many middle managers complain that their positions offer limited advancement opportunities due to a large leap associated with the next level positions.

So what is a middle manager to do? If you are an MBA program student in middle management, Gratton’s advice may help. She suggests acquiring deep “knowledge or competencies that are valuable and rare” and “developing new areas of proficiency, or moving into adjacencies throughout work life.”

However, not all is gray for middle managers as some sources point to considerable disadvantages when it comes to cutting back on middle management. An article in Chron, said “A decrease in middle management means less company role models and the greater likelihood of supervisor misunderstanding how to act and lead employees.” Other issues with getting rid of middle managers include excess burden on other employees, contagious fear of job security, and hindered flow of progressive ideas.

Nonetheless, the shifting job market spurred by evolving technology has pressured many middle managers to attain skills that add to their competitive edge.

The William Woods University MBA in Entrepreneurial Leadership helps students build an arsenal of skills and knowledge, including a strong theoretical background that emphasizes the practice of learned skills to overcome business challenges in a complex economic environment. The knowledge and skills acquired help students maintain competiveness in the today’s job market and make them more versatile when it comes to withstanding hierarchical changes in the workplace.

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