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KINGSTON — Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, has called on business owners to find ways to retain their middle managers, even in a climate of economic downturn.

He noted that effective middle managers are critical to the growth and profitability of any entity, to give it the competitive edge in the market. “Without effective middle managers, businesses cannot grow and are not efficient.  So I see middle management as the engine of enterprise; it carries the business and it determines the pace at which the business moves,” Mr. Holness said.

He was speaking yesterday at a middle managers’ conference at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston under the theme: ‘Middle Managers: the Heart and Hub of Enterprise.'

According to the Education Minister, middle managers are the ones who “manage strategic relationships” and are seen as the best teachers of the organisation, in that they are able to communicate and manage knowledge effectively and are best able to put the innovative solutions in place to make the business process more efficient.

He lamented, however, that it is this group of professionals, who are most affected when companies are downsizing.

“The middle manager faces a great risk of being unemployed by virtue of changes in the structure of businesses…the experience has been that, in doing so, businesses end up losing significantly as they (businesses) are not necessarily more efficient in the long-run. To downsize and get rid of your management staff would be to effectively get rid of the capital base,” he argued.

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles, in his contribution, concurred that the middle managers are crucial to the stability of enterprises.

He urged the group of professionals to create an environment where strong self-esteem and positive self concept can be fostered, noting that “too often, some middle managers believe that they must create difficulty for workers, seemingly policing them rather than working with them. We need a cadre of middle managers that will be engaging rather than distracting,” he said.

Hosted by Make Your Mark Consultants, the two-day conference seeks to address the need for proactive management by middle managers in adding value to any organisation and, ultimately, Jamaica.

Middle managers are persons in the middle tier of management, who head specific departments such as accounting, marketing, production or business units, or who serve as project managers.

They are responsible for implementing the top management's policies and plans and typically have two management levels below them. Usually among the first to be slashed in the resizing of a firm, middle management constitutes the thickest layer of managers in a traditional organisation.

 

By CHRIS PATTERSON, JIS Reporter