More than nine out of ten senior leaders see middle managers as critical to the development of future leaders within the business.

For a study by Sheffield Business School, over 150 corporate leaders across the UK were polled, throwing new light on the importance of middle managers for identifying training opportunities and cultivating the skills the business needs. Indeed 59 per cent said that they would like to see the amount of training carried out at their organisation, exclusive of that required by regulation, to increase.

Questioned aimed just at leaders of the larger corporates revealed that 47 per cent say C-level executives “have a passion for learning and development and are personally committed to its importance”.

However, wider business challenges, such as budget constraints, failures to recognise the role middle managers play and a lack of alignment between training and business goals is holding companies back from their vision.

“Learning and development is no longer a ‘nice to have’ in corporates, but middle managers are facing major challenges to deliver this learning aspiration,” said Lynda Hinxman, assistant dean for Sheffield Business School.

“Corporates have had to become such lean operations in the recession that there is little time or money to train.  Middle managers do not always recognise their critical role in developing the next generation of leaders.”

In order to get a return on the investment of training, businesses need to ensure that it is more successfully linked to delivering strategic business goals. As a company with experience helping a wide range of blue chip firms with their training needs, 100% Effective understands that the learning needs to be applied quickly in order to justify the initial cost outlay.

Trainees must get the support they need to put what they have learned into practice, to hit the ground running. Learning does not stop the moment you leave the classroom. Middle management must be empowered to see the essential role they play, but all of that support does not necessarily have to come from time-poor managers.

At 100% Effective we tackle this in three ways. First we make sure that the learning itself is linked to real opportunities within the business, so that students are working on live projects with the support of an experienced Master Black Belt. Secondly our courses follow a blended structure, combining classroom and independent learning. This approach allows for faster and more in-depth knowledge transfer, reducing the need for managerial support. And thirdly we offer one-to-one coaching to ensure the training is applied correctly, and that delegates can continue to have a positive impact on improving the business.