Are Middle-Management Titles Really Phasing Out? (Observations & Implications)

The Ladder

The Ladder (Photo credit: Celestine Chua)

A new study analysing key words and phrases that job seekers use to search for jobs, along with employers’ word choices for job postings, revealed that middle-management jobs are rapidly decreasing in relative popularity.

The data concludes that the growth rate of titles containing the word “manager” is 25 percent lower than average growth rate, and the rate of titles containing the word “director” is 50 percent lower. What’s more, within the top 10 percent of growing jobs, less than 2 percent of titles contain the word “manager” or “director.”

Conversely, the fastest-growing jobs shy away from management, and instead require deep educational qualifications and specific skills in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). With seven of the 10 fastest-growing job titles, the technology industry dominates market share with positions that necessitate specific technical skills for developing software and mining data. Indicating a trend beyond employment, four of the seven fastest-growing technology jobs (Dev Ops Engineer, iOS Developer, Data Scientist and Android Developer) did not even exist five years ago.

Fastest-growing Job Titles for the last 5 years:

  1. Dev Ops Engineer
  2. iOS Developer
  3. Data Scientist
  4. UX Designer
  5. Staff Accountant
  6. Paralegal
  7. UI Developer
  8. Administrative Assistant
  9. Android Developer
  10. Business Intelligence Developer

“In examining job growth over the past five years, there is an undeniable demand for developers and analysts who possess unique expertise within the burgeoning STEM industries,” said Shankar Mishra, vice president of data science & analytics for TheLadders. “On the opposite end of the spectrum, once-coveted management jobs are rapidly declining, revealing a trend that high-earning professionals are not necessarily on a management track, nor do they desire to be.”

Regarding location, technology-driven regions are benefiting from this evolution more than others. Because of the recent explosion of technology companies comprising Silicon Alley, New York City has the biggest share of this expansion, followed by the San Francisco Bay Area, Washington D.C., and Dallas-Fort Worth region.


BLM Implications:

The thinning of middle management titles and lines may not necessarily mean that the function has been eliminated completely. In fact, middle managers are increasingly taking on greater breadth across functions and simultaneous depth to ensure that they remain one ear on the ground and one eye to the horizon in order to feed senior management with important information. However, the challenge at the end of the day is about productivity and senior management is always on the lookout for productivity, which is typically defined as revenue per employee. Given that each person within the organisation has limited time to carry out his function, the game play will be to maximise how each employee best contributes. Taking on too much hands-on can just be as bad as too much oversight without knowing what happens on the ground.

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