UK Study Shows Middle Managers' Personal Development Overlooked

Middle managers aren't getting access to the personal development they need at work, according to a new study out of the U.K.'s Ashridge Business School. Researchers polled 569 middle managers and found that just 53 percent are given time to learn more about topics like people management, leadership, influencing and strategy. What's more astonishing is that although 73 percent of respondents said that their organization claims to create a working environment that encourages learning and development, just 24 percent have a mentor, life coach or career coach.

Many of the middle managers surveyed indicated that they had current training needs, primarily in leadership (37 percent) and people management (36 percent). Their plight may not tug at your heartstrings, but consider this: middle managers are tasked with translating and championing upper management's objectives, culture and strategy to day-to-day employees. If they are not given the opportunity to develop leadership and management skills, their engagement, productivity and performance -- and that of their direct reports -- could suffer.

"All too often the focus is on senior leaders and future leaders when it comes to development," said Hamish Scott, program director at Ashridge Business School. "We need to get the middle moving, inspired and fulfilled; this means investing in people development to equip them with the skills to do their job and keep UK business running smoothly. What organisations are missing is their need to invest in its whole workforce and not use middle management as a stepping stone position."

How can upper management foster professional development in middle managers? Most survey respondents wanted to learn more about managing people, working under pressure, giving and receiving feedback, professional training and taking on new projects.

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