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Banking Suffers Shortage of Middle Managers

Stuck in the middle

Stuck in the middle

Senior leaders are critical to setting the overall strategy and direction of a bank, yet the importance of middle management is sometimes overlooked.

Middle managers are close to the operational “engine room” employees and their role is to ensure that KPIs and timelines are met. In banks, operations areas and customer-service centres are where productivity needs to be kept high and continuous, so middle managers are key to maintaining competitiveness.

Yet they are in short supply in banking and finance. Employers – from large international financial institutions to local banks – are all fighting in the same pool of talent. In Singapore, revisions to the qualifying criteria for the Personalised Employment Pass are likely to impact the availability middle managers, with the minimum annual fixed-salary requirement to be raised to S$144k.

This challenge is set continue. Randstad’s World of Work Report 2012/13 finds that talent scarcity is expected to be ongoing for middle managers for the next five years.

Singapore employers tell us that increasing workforce performance and productivity will be one of their top human-capital challenges in the next five years. And one of the best strategies to help improve productivity is to improve middle-management capabilities.

Here are four tips that employers can adopt to help them recruit and retain these managers, giving them the opportunity to lift productivity within the firm.

1. Make it a priority

When it comes to filling specific gaps in the future, four in five (81%) employers from the Randstad World of Work survey told us that they are most concerned about whether they will have enough talented middle managers rising through the ranks over the next five years. Organisations need to act now to ensure a sufficient future pipeline.

2. Provide opportunities

Middle managers need to be given the chance to lead change and drive workforce productivity. Give them the time and resources to allow them to teach their work skills and habits to their teams so they can collectively achieve and sustain high performance levels.

3. Offer training

Companies should provide a clear and tailored training programme to strengthen middle managers’ abilities in areas such as relationship building, critical thinking and project management. They should also think about the work options, systems, processes and performance measures that will support these managers to ensure their success – and their loyalty – well into the future.

4. Prepare them for the transition

Employers in financial services need to implement a career-development programme to prepare middle managers for the transition into senior leadership through mentoring, coaching or post-graduate management education. This will ensure they have the people and the skills to drive future growth.

Richard Farmer, director, professionals, Randstad Singapore

Comments (5)

  1. You must be joking. Banks in this country are swamped by pools of middle management

  2. I agree with Glen. The thing is, banks are not looking for people beyond the age of 40. It’s a very well known fact in Singapore but the government just cannot do anything about it. The younger ones on the other hand are not so keen as to hang around in the same company if there’s no immediate prospect of heading up the ladder? So if the banks wishes to retain its staff, they have to promote these middle managers, and when this happen, they have to find more people to fill the gap. So it’s basically a self created problem. They (banks) complained that they can’t get enough middle managers but that’s because of the practices that they put in place. if they only expand the age band in their search, their problem will be solved.

  3. It’s easy to explain: the banks retrenched them all, and now they work in other industries with no intention of ever going back to banking.

    (Said by someone who was a middle-manager in a bank, was made redundant, and now works in superannuation).

  4. I could not agree more with the above comment, Bank’s do not value their staff who are approaching retirement age and have a lot to give back as they do not need maternity or parental leave and have loads of experience, dedication and knowledge that new comers do not have.

    Experience it yourself by either calling any Bank’s helpline or just calling to the nearest branch.

    They will try and cross sell you every product under the sun whether you need it or not but try bringing a problem to them and they will palm you off to the next person or do not know how to resolve it.

  5. I agree Banks are not interested in people at or nearing retirement age and use any excuse to get rid of them.

    The younger generation are not loyal and do not have the experience and will move quickly if they can secure a better paid job.

    Try taking a complaint, query or problem to the front line staff, ring any bank’s help line for assistance or join the long Bank que and you will experience this first hand.

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