I often use a car analogy when describing corporations and their human development. In many companies, the executives are like the GPS system in a car. These individuals set the course for the organization and navigate the roadblocks that unexpectedly occur on the journey.
The middle management and many individual contributors are the engine of the car. If the engine of the organization breaks-down, the car will not make it to its destination. It does not matter how amazing the route is that the GPS system has calculated!
Human Development for the Frozen Middle
Companies spend a lot of attention and resources on their executives – to make sure they are setting a course that will help the company be successful. However, companies often forget about developing the engine of the car. Thus, the middle managers, the next generation of leaders, and the strong individual contributors are often left with off-the-shelf training and/or very tactical skill development opportunities. While those types of training may help the engine maintain its current state, it does not take it to a higher level. The engine of your company – or the ‘frozen middle’ (as some organizations refer to it) – are often under-developed.
Imagine if those individuals, who make up the engine, are developed at a human development level as well as a tactical skill level. What if their leadership training included insights into their own human development? What could they learn about themselves and the impact they are having on their current role? What kind of progress could they make? What could the impact be not only on their current role & team, but also on their future roles?
Who in your organization is part of the ‘engine’ or the ‘frozen middle’? What does your organization do to help them with their human development and leadership development? Where is it falling short? This engine has unlimited development potential that will benefit the individuals as well as the organization. Spend some time and resources focusing on your company’s engine.