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Harvard Business Review Press

Power to the Middle: Why Managers Hold the Keys to the Future of Work

Power to the Middle: Why Managers Hold the Keys to the Future of Work

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If you're thinking of cutting your midlevel managers in the new world of work, think again.

"Middle manager." The term evokes a bygone industrial era in which managers functioned like cogs in a vast bureaucratic machine. In recent decades, midlevel managers became a favorite target for the chopping block--underappreciated, often considered a superfluous layer of the organization.

Not only does this outdated perspective need to change, but the future demands it. In Power to the Middle, McKinsey thought leaders Bill Schaninger, Bryan Hancock, and Emily Field call for a profound reimagining of managers and their roles. They explain how middle managers are uniquely positioned close to the ground but with a crucial connection to company strategy, enabling them to guide their organizations through periods of rapid and complex change, as well as to help shape the new world of work.

The authors compellingly illustrate this deep shift in the workplace, showing how:

  • Managers are the key to winning the war for talent, which requires strong people skills to attract and retain the best talent.
  • Managers must shift from merely enforcing rules to challenging them, serving as critical stopgaps for rules that are ineffective or obsolete.
  • Crucially, good managers must not be promoted out of their jobs. Instead, their title and compensation should reflect their high value and allow them to advance within their roles.

With rich stories and cutting-edge research, Power to the Middle offers a new model for companies to radically alter the way they hire, train, and reward their midlevel managers--their most valuable asset.

Author: Bill Schaninger, Bryan Hancock, Emily Field
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
Published: 07/18/2023
Pages: 256
Binding Type: Hardcover
Weight: 1.06lbs
Size: 9.30h x 6.00w x 1.10d
ISBN: 9781647824853

Review Citation(s):
Choice 11/01/2023

About the Author

Bill Schaninger is a senior partner in McKinsey's Philadelphia office. He advises CEOs, government ministers, and senior executives on organizational health and improvement. He is McKinsey's expert on the power of culture, values, and leadership in improving business outcomes. He holds an MS and PhD in management from Auburn University and an MBA and Bachelor of Business Administration from Moravian College. He is a coauthor of Beyond Performance 2.0.

Bryan Hancock is a partner in McKinsey's Washington, DC, office, and the global leader of McKinsey's talent-focused work, serving a wide-range of businesses, as well as investors and companies in the human capital management sector. In addition, Bryan has served a wide-range of public and social sector clients--including those focused on education and workforce development in the context of the future of work. Bryan holds a JD from Harvard Law School, where he graduated magna cum laude. He also holds a BA, with honors, in Government and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia.

Emily Field is a partner in McKinsey's Seattle office. She helps organizations with distributed workforces deliver on their performance goals, with the role of the manager front and center. Emily holds a BA in government from Georgetown University.

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