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Survey: Middle Managers Lead Lives Of Quiet Desperation

Survey finds middle managers are frustrated; their pet peeves include being overworked and underpaid. Companies must engage those managers to beat the competition, Accenture says.

Paul McDougall

January 9, 2007

1 Min Read

No wonder David Brent, the painfully un-self-aware middle manager featured in the U.K. version of The Office, always seems so needy. Only one in four office bureaucrats of his ilk are "extremely" or "very" satisfied with their work, while an equal percentage are looking for new jobs, according to a survey released Tuesday by consulting company Accenture.

The source of middle management frustration, Accenture says, is that those in the role often carry significant responsibility but little authority to affect meaningful change within their companies. "They care deeply about the future of their organizations and their roles in that organization, but they are, to a certain extent, the frozen middle," says Peter Cheese, managing director for Accenture's human performance practice.

Middle managers harbor a wide range of pet peeves, the survey shows. Of the 1,400 surveyed by International Communications Research on behalf of Accenture, 43% complained about doing all the work and getting none of the credit, 44% said they don't get paid enough, and 35% said they have trouble achieving a healthy work-life balance.

Accenture says the survey proves that companies need to do a better job engaging those in their middle ranks if they want to stay ahead of competitors. Clear communications, more face time with senior executives, and the implementation of performance goals directly linked to rewards and career progression can ease the situation for middle managers. "Their success depends on having a sense of security and a belief that executives understand their concerns and are taking some action," Cheese says.

The survey responses were drawn from middle managers working in Australia, France, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

About the Author(s)

Paul McDougall

Editor At Large, InformationWeek

Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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