Middle managers are the secret sauce of productivity, say knowledge workers

Research from ClickUp claims to reveal the crucial role that middle managers play in driving productivity.Research from ClickUp claims to reveal the crucial role that middle managers play in driving productivity. The study found that 81 percent of knowledge workers who responded to the survey think that middle managers, defined as those below top level management and typically in charge of departments or groups, are the people most responsible for driving team productivity, with 68 percent rating the middle managers they work with as very or extremely effective.

ClickUp’s study suggests that the quality and performance of middle managers is directly correlated to whether a business is highly productive or not. Among respondents that rated their organisations as highly productive, 73 percent said that middle managers are extremely or very effective at driving productivity. However, this drops substantially among those that did not rate their organisation’s productivity highly, with only 26 percent saying the same.

The research also explored how instrumental middle managers are in facilitating remote work. The majority of respondents (73 percent) believe they are either as effective, or even more effective, in their roles since the rise of remote work and, crucially, their colleagues largely agree (60 percent). In contrast to rhetoric behind the recent return to office trend, this figure rises to 79 percent when it comes to an organisation’s executives.

Middle Managers have also seemingly overcome many of the challenges of remote work, which were identified as difficulty building personal connections, cited by 64 percent of respondents, reduced ability to observe employee performance (63 percent) and communication and challenges with collaboration (58 percent). Despite 40 percent believing that remote work has made it more difficult for managers to do their job effectively, only 23 percent believe that they are less effective since the rise of remote work.

“Middle managers have been given the short end of the stick for far too long. Often maligned and increasingly squeezed between demands from top executives and the wider workforce, we must recognise the crucial role they play as drivers of productivity.” Said Chris Hicken, Chief Productivity Officer at ClickUp. “There is a danger businesses may underestimate or overlook vital personnel that can help deliver impactful change within an organisation. When we empower middle managers, all stakeholders across the organisation are better informed, projects and campaigns move along seamlessly, and everybody works toward a common goal.”