This paper aims to consider middle managers’ influence on organizational learning by exploring how they cope with demands and tensions in their role and whether their practice affects available team energy.
In total, 43 managers from three large organizations involved in major change assessed their group’s energy using a tested and validated instrument, the OEQ12©. This generated six distinct categories of team energy, from highly productive to corrosive. Thirty-four of these managers, spread across the six categories, completed a Twenty Statements Test and a follow-up interview to explore their cognitive, affective and behavioural responses to coping with resource constraints and tensions in their role.
The research provides preliminary insights into what distinguishes a middle manager persona co-ordinating teams with highly productive energy from those managing groups with less available energy to engage with knowledge and learning. It considers why these distinctions may affect collective sensitivities in the organizational learning process.
Informants were not equally distributed across the six team energy categories; therefore, some middle manager personas are more indicative than others.
This research suggests areas where middle manager development could potentially improve organizational learning.
This study offers early empirical evidence that middle managers’ orientation to their role is entangled with the process of energizing their teams in organizational learning during change.
The authors would like to thank members of the Henley Forum for their contribution to this research.
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