How Middle Managers Can Save Their Jobs

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The middle manager is dead, says Lynda Gratton in her new book, The Shift.

At least the traditional, Michael Scott-inspired middle manager.

“There is little competitive advantage in being a jack-of-all-trades when your main competitor might be Wikipedia,” the London Business School professor tells Harvard Business Review.

Gratton’s book covers the crucial steps middle managers — once a respected position — need to take in order to stay competitive.

The first task is getting people to listen. “Gen Y workers see no value in reporting to someone who simply keeps track of what they do, when much of that can be done by themselves, their peers, or a machine,” she says. “What they do value is mentoring and coaching from someone they respect. Someone, in other words, who is a master — not a general manager.”

Gratton advises current middle managers to become experts and create a “signature” for themselves — in other words, become invaluable. She says it’s also smart to bone up on hot topics today, like “advocacy, social and micro entrepreneurship, the life and health sciences, energy conservation, creativity and innovation, and coaching.”

Now, read 8 Lessons I Learned Working Under Steve Jobs >