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.
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?
Power to the Middle: Why Managers Hold the Keys to the Future of Work* by Emily Field, Bill Schaninger, and Bryan Hancock
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