650: Where Senior Leaders Can Better Support Middle Managers, with Emily Field

Coaching for Leaders

Oct 16 2023 • 39 mins

Emily Field: Power to the Middle Emily Field is a partner at McKinsey & Company. She works with leaders to shape data-driven organizational strategies designed to achieve business objectives, establish talent management as a distinctive advantage, and secure the human resources function as a driver of business value. Emily has worked with companies across industries, leading initiatives to transform the way organizations work. She puts particular emphasis on helping to establish a talent-first approach, instilling a high-performance culture, and adopting effective people-analytics approaches. She is the co-author along with Bill Schaninger and Bryan Hancock of Power to the Middle: Why Managers Hold the Keys to the Future of Work*. As anybody who’s worked in middle management can attest, it’s one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever have. Too often we take middle management for granted, but organizations that learn how to better support middle managers can leverage their power and expertise to do a lot of good. In this conversation, Emily and I highlight the challenges of middle management, the unique value the middle managers bring to organizations, and the steps senior leaders can take to better support middle managers. Key Points Middle managers often have less power and control than the people who report to them. This results in them not feeling like they are set up for success. The “player-coach” model of managers doing individual contributor work can be useful, but it’s critical for organizations to be mindful that the work is uniquely suited for a manager to do. Rather than promoting the best middle managers out of their roles, promote from within. Reward top middle managers who decide to make their positions a destination, not just a waypoint. As technology and AI changed the nature of work, middle managers are uniquely qualified to know how to best rebundle jobs and redistribute talent. A key question for senior leadership to answer: What do we want middle managers to be doing? Resources Mentioned Power to the Middle: Why Managers Hold the Keys to the Future of Work* by Emily Field, Bill Schaninger, and Bryan Hancock Interview Notes Download my interview notes in PDF format (free membership required). Related Episodes How to Multiply Your Impact, with Liz Wiseman (episode 554) How Top Leaders Influence Great Teamwork, with Scott Keller (episode 585) The Questions to Help Figure Out Hybrid and Remote Work, with Jim Harter (episode 646) Discover More Activate your free membership for full access to the entire library of interviews since 2011, searchable by topic. To accelerate your learning, uncover more inside Coaching for Leaders Plus.