The Truth About Middle Managers

Who They Are, How They Work, Why They Matter

by Paul Osterman

Number of pages: 189

Publisher: Harvard Business Press

BBB Library: Operations Management

ISBN: 9781422179703

About the Author

Paul Osterman is the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Professor of Human Resources and Management at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management as well as a member of the Department of Urban Planning at M.I.T. His research concerns changes in work organization within companies, career patterns and processes within firms, economic development, urban poverty, and public policy surrounding skills training and employment programs.


Editorial Review

Who Are Middle Managers? No one has a job title “Middle Manager.” Who then are middle managers? And how do we distinguish them from those at the top? It is known that senior management makes the decisions that set the organization’s course, whereas middle management interprets and executes those decisions. Middle managers do not set agendas, but carry them out. Nonetheless, middle managers make numerous decisions, and these decisions are important to the organization. The context of these decisions, however, is not of the managers’ own making. Middle managers live inside organizations and have little voice regarding the strategies of those organizations. In this sense, they differ from both the managers on top of the organizations and from the frontline workers.

Book Reviews

"Basically, he finds that middle managers are insecure in their jobs, more loyal totheir teams than to the larger corporation, and like the work they do." Dianebyington

Books on Related Topics

Wisdom to Share

Middle managers should be valued for what they contribute and should be seen as a resource to be developed.

Both organizations and social scientists need to revise their views of middle managers.

Managers who both enjoy their tasks and care about their colleagues are likely to keep on trying to do the best they can.

Most managers feel little loyalty to their firms and a very tenuous identification with those at the top.

Being married and having children reduces women’s work ambitions, while it increases men’s.

People who see that they are unlikely to rise much further adapt by changing their expectations.

The career patterns of managers are of central concern, both to the managers and to anyone else trying to understand their world.

Middle managers are now the negotiators between different interests and are making key decisions about trade- offs.

Managers described their work as mediating between teams & divisions within the organization & between the organization & its customers.

Team managers’ job has two pieces: managing the internal processes of the teams and acting as an ambassador to other teams.

Middle managers are responsible for accomplishing the core tasks of their organizations.

Restructuring is changing the nature of middle management work.

After the World War II, efforts expanded to train middle management in order to get the best benefits for an organization.

Middle managers are ambassadors between top management and the workforce.

The reality is that the managers are the glue that hold organizations together.

Middle managers make numerous decisions, and these decisions are important to the organization.

Practically, the performance of organizations depends on the commitment, skill, and effort of managers.

Middle managers have as much to say about organizational success or failure as do those at the top.