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Ask Pam: Beyond Middle Management

Pam’s Blog:  Insights

Is there life after middle management? Absolutely. Who wants it? There are many professionals who aspire to the next level of leadership. So if this is the case, then why aren’t the opportunities for assignment, exposure and access more available for middle managers?

Did you know that 90 percent of the companies that participate in the Diversity MBA Benchmarking have formal performance management systems and succession planning strategies? This means, at least, that the systems are in place.

Pardon me; I just have so many questions because I am very familiar with the reality. Let’s review reality for a second. Firstly, most multinationals and large regional companies have very diverse employee populations with a descent representation of all groups (66 percent). The issue is that the majority of the positions held are support roles with no visible opportunity for advancement.

Secondly, most of the same organizations will confess that they have a talented employee base. Advancement strategies rest within the boundaries of the salary bands and do not necessarily involve leadership development and advancement opportunities.

Thirdly, unfortunately, promotion slates for middle management roles do not require hiring managers to review a diverse slate of candidates, so opportunities are limited to the immediate team or limited exposure of the hiring manager.

Fourthly, since the largest group of middle managers are white males and females combined, this group unconsciously continues to advance the group they are most comfortable with first or that they are most exposed to.

With this knowledge, what does an organization have to do to support the advancement of people of color in the professional ranks to management and middle managers to leadership roles? I would dare to suggest that intentional deployment of cultural competent training must become a reality. This is easier said than done, primarily because companies must recognize that there is an issue in the first place.

If we expand the thinking and experiences of the majority group that is being advanced, then organizations must become comfortable with providing insights and exposure so that all people of color who desire and are ready for leadership roles have equal opportunity.

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