Investing in Middle Managers Pays Off—Literally | McKinsey

Talent Development

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The article emphasizes the importance of middle managers in organizations and their direct impact on financial outcomes. Research conducted by McKinsey reveals that organizations with high-performing middle managers achieve significantly better total shareholder returns (TSR) than those with average or below-average managers. The article identifies 11 key manager behaviors that are positively correlated with financial performance. These behaviors include being creative, entrepreneurial, open, trusting, operationally disciplined, authoritative, challenging, consultative, supportive, inspirational, and focused on talent development. To promote the development of these behaviors among middle managers, the article suggests five recommended actions for organizations, such as: a) Optimizing the organization’s structure and role design: This ensures that managers have sufficient time and capacity to focus on strategic thinking and leadership. b) Resetting manager roles: By eliminating unnecessary bureaucratic tasks and utilizing emerging technologies like AI to automate repetitive tasks, managers can devote more attention to important responsibilities. c) Establishing accountability mechanisms: This tactic involves implementing performance management systems that align with desired manager behaviors. Setting goals linked to these behaviors, providing continuous feedback and reviews, and implementing consequences tied to performance can help drive the desired outcomes. Several other ideas are discussed. Organizations can reference this research as they identify opportunities for building manager capabilities that drive business performance and other important outcomes.