Middle Management: Stuck in the Middle With You

“Stuck in the Middle with You” was a pop tune in the early 1970’s song by Stealers Wheel. It comes to mind after watching a video of Dr Shay Scott, Managing Director of the Global Supply Chain Institute at the University of Tennessee,  being interviewed about logistics talent management.  His main point, middle managers are forgotten in the supply chain management process. The interview video can be seen here:


Dr Scott’s says organizations spend a lot of time developing new entry talent and sometimes top senior talent, but little development is done on the people currently employed in middle management.  This is true even though organizations are absolutely dependent on the success execution of their business on middle management, there is almost no planned development for this group.  Dr Scott argues that development and training of middle managers needs to included in the strategic objectives of the company. Looking at this as being like any other business process with objectives, a predicted cost of return, and metrics is the way to go.

Developing your middle management talent really is difficult. Generally these people are so busy with day to day work, it is hard to pull them away.  A company culture where it is desirable to grow the broad spectrum of talent is rare.  Any development program needs to win top management’s support and money.   The benefits are not only improved costs, but improved competitiveness with the appropriate best practices.

Development can take many ways. Employees can be encouraged to be  involved in professional organizations giving these employees a way to learn best practices and the new ideas in the field. It may involve participating in logistics/supply chain focus courses developed by Universities who have strong supply chain, logistics departments. It can involve a mentoring program. Like anything, a clear, focus and accountable process is the key.

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