Middle managers around the world share a lack of satisfaction with their current organizations and describe their companies as mismanaged, according to the findings of an annual survey released in January 2007 by Accenture, the global consulting firm.
The survey of more than 1,400 middle managers in nine countries in North America, Europe and Asia found that, on average, just four in 10 (39 percent) of respondents said they were “extremely” or “very” satisfied with working at their current organizations. Furthermore, one in five (20 percent) is specifically dissatisfied with his or her current organization.
Additionally, when asked to describe their organizations, the largest share (30 percent) of all respondents selected “mismanaged,” and this was consistent across all the countries.
Almost one-quarter (23 percent) of respondents said they are currently looking for a job elsewhere. Of these, 25 percent said their primary motivation is lack of prospects for advancement at their current jobs, and 22 percent cited better conditions at another job. There was some variation across countries, with respondents in the United States, Spain, Germany and Australia generally showing higher levels of satisfaction than those in other countries.
When asked to indicate the most frustrating aspects of their jobs, the greatest number of respondents – 44 percent – chose insufficient compensation. About the same number (43 percent) said they feel as if they are doing all the work but not getting credit for it. More than one-third (35 percent) reported that they are frustrated by trying to balance work and personal time, and the same number said they are frustrated because they have no clear career path.
“For the most part, middle managers care deeply about the future of their organizations and their roles in that future, but they are, to a certain extent, the ‘frozen middle,’” said Peter Cheese, managing director of Accenture’s Human Performance practice. “Their success depends on having a sense of security and a belief that executives understand their concerns and are taking some action. In leading companies, senior managers address these issues through clear communications, direct engagement and performance goals linked to rewards and career progression.”
While approximately half of respondents gave their organizations high marks for how they manage working conditions and benefits – 53 percent said their companies manage working conditions, and 48 percent of respondents said their companies manage benefits, in a “good” or “the best possible” way – they gave lower scores to a variety of other functions. In fact, only about one-third of respondents reported that their companies were good or excellent at managing compensation (selected by 30 percent), flexible work arrangements (34 percent), helping them communicate bad news (35 percent) or prospects for advancement (35 percent).
“Senior managers have an untapped opportunity to engage their middle managers,” said Cheese. “Low levels of engagement in such a critical segment of the workforce will affect performance and achievement of strategic goals. As the pressure on key skills and talent increases with the pace of change and demographic influences, those companies that manage this population of workers best will create sustainable competitive advantage and be the high performers of the future.”
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With deep industry and business process expertise, broad global resources and a proven track record, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills, and technologies to help clients improve their performance. With approximately 146,000 people in 49 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$16.65 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2006.