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