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Improved Job Market May Give Middle Managers An Upper Hand

Date: November 8 2012

Boston - November 8, 2012   As the economy and job market improve, there are more employment opportunities for middle managers. They are in a better position to determine whether to jump to other employers or remain with their current companies, some of which are anxious to retain their experienced and battle-tested talent, according to ClearRock.  
The ranks of middle managers were devastated during the recession as employers trimmed their workforces, cut management levels and laid off managers. Some of those who were able to keep their jobs took on more responsibilities for the same amount of or less compensation and greater number of direct reports. 
New middle managers were created, too, by promoting lower-level employees into supervisory roles, sometimes without providing them with the necessary training and coaching.
"With the economy improving, some companies are adding back management levels to reduce the number of workers their managers manage, increase productivity and relieve stress. Some of them have experienced lower morale, productivity, employee motivation, and higher turnover, and are looking to improve through developing and promoting from within or hiring from outside," said Annie Stevens, managing partner for ClearRock (, an outplacement and executive coaching firm based in Boston.
"The better job market has set off a tug of war between middle managers re-evaluating their positions and employers seeking to retain managers who have developed and sharpened their skills during the recession," Stevens said.
"Unemployed middle managers with a track record for achieving goals, increasing productivity and improving morale are also getting a closer look by employers," Stevens added. 
ClearRock offers these recommendations to middle managers on how to maximize their opportunities. 
* Closely examine career development and advancement opportunities with your employer. "Talented middle managers are in a position to ask for coaching if they are not already receiving it. Also, organizations that are serious about retaining them will help them develop career paths with timelines for advancement and compensation rewards. If these benchmarks are missing, it may be time for them to consider taking their skills elsewhere," said Stevens.

* Appraise the job market. The expanded responsibilities and knowledge that some middle managers have gained with their employers may make some of them more valuable to other organizations. "Explore whether a new employer will offer more developmental and advancement opportunities. While compensation should not be the only factor in deciding whether to make a move, managers whose pay has been virtually flat for the past few years may want to press for or explore better deals," said Stevens.
 * Quantify the value you have brought to your employers. "Current employed middle managers should quantify the difference they have made in their jobs - increases in sales, decreases in costs, reducing turnover, etc. These are also numbers that laid-off middle managers should use to attract potential employers along with a detailed explanation of how they achieved these results in past jobs," said Stevens.
* Demonstrate your readiness to advance to the next management level. "Companies want middle managers who are adept in leadership, strategic thinking, motivating others, building teamwork and communications, as well as managing others. Show you possess these characteristics and are either currently ready for the next management level or could readily attain it with the necessary development and coaching," said Stevens.
* Validate your proficiency in hard technical skills as well as soft people-oriented skills. "Middle managers who are first-rate in their technical expertise and oriented toward leadership and developing direct reports will have the best job prospects," added Stevens.

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