Do You Know Who Drives Real Performance at Your Company?
Always wanted to be in the C-Suite to really make a difference at your company? Or have you dreamed of being one of those cool “creative” types who wears shorts and sandals to work?
News flash – it turns out the unglamorous world of the middle manager is the center of the universe around which the rest of the corporate world turns.
A study from The Wharton School and the University of Pennsylvania shows that differences between firms are due mainly to differences among employees – not due to business strategy, to management systems, nor to HR practices. Middle managers (aka the “suits”) beat innovators in the battle of who matters most. They also beat the C-suite: among F-800 firms, the author found that top management accounted for less than 5% of the variation in firm performance.
How can this be? Because middle managers actually run practically everything at the company and make sure it all gets done. They align their projects and departments with the company’s goals, allocate resources, drive the timelines and workplans, motivate their teams, and catalyze “collective creativity”. You know, the boring stuff – that is, the stuff that really matters when hundreds of people are involved and million-dollar budgets are on the line.
Yet many companies don’t pay enough attention to their middle layer of management. Instead, it is viewed as a support-team for the creative types, and a pay-your-dues stop on the trip to the C-suite where the big stuff happens. But it turns out that middle managers have the biggest impact on a firm’s success, even though the job is tough and often short on glamour.