Soon after ANZ announced it would roll-out its own-brand of organisation-wide \u2018scaled agile\u2019 in 2017, Maile Carnegie launched a scathing attack on the \u201cfrozen middle\u201d management layer at the bank who she believed would \u201cresist change like death\u201d.\nCarnegie, the then group executive digital banking who has since been promoted to group executive digital and Australia transformation, explained to a Sydney audience the difficulties in dealing with people in the bank who had \u201cgraduated from doing to managing and basically bossing other people around\u201d.\n \n\u201c[The transformation] It exposes that they have no skills any more. Figuring out how to deal with the frozen middle, once you have the boss\u2019 support, is the big thing. If they\u2019re not going to become craftsman and learn anymore, they need to move on,\u201d the former managing director of Google Australia and New Zealand, said.\n \nWhile the value of middle managers is being closely scrutinised within many organisations, according to recruitment firm Hays they can be a businesses\u2019 \u201cbiggest asset\u201d. \n\u201cAs the link between senior leadership and operational staff, middle management are often the key to success in an organisation,\u201d said Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia and New Zealand.\n \n\u201cThey embody an organisation\u2019s culture, make change happen, are accountable for delivering results and are central to employee retention. Yet the undervaluing of middle management is all too common,\u201d he explained.\n \nIn a survey of talent experts and consultants, Hays found that one of the biggest problems with middle managers is their image.\n \nDr Zara Whysall, head of research at talent management specialists Kiddy Partners, the role simply needs a \u201crebrand\u201d.\n \n\u201cFor years, middle managers have been overlooked when it comes to talent management, falling into the no-man\u2019s-land between \u2018top talent\u2019 and \u2018rising stars\u2019. The role needs to be seen, and treated, as a destination in itself,\u201d she said.\n \nTo get more value from the \u2018frozen middle\u2019 Hays provides the following tips: conduct open and honest career development conversations; create a better culture, ask for middle managers\u2019 feedback; develop their skills, particularly in networking; and make sure they are being delegated effectively to.\n \nPwC Australia advises a more firm-handed approach, giving three main options to remove the barriers presented by middle management: \u201cchip away, move them on or light a fire\u201d.\n \nThe consultancy firm splits middle managers into four archetypes, who require different treatment to \u2018thaw\u2019:\n \n\u2018Cynics\u2019 have been through lots of change and efforts need to be made to \u201cbuild trust\u201d, PwC says.\n \nThere are the \u2018Comfortable Leader\u2019 folk who have no appetite for another transformation effort. \u201cThey should be told they have to go on the journey, but they won\u2019t need to carry the load,\u201d PwC says.\n \nThen there is the \u2018Twilight Executive\u2019 a group looking at retirement and not motivated to help reinvent the organisation. PwC says organisations should \u201cTry to inspire them to play a leadership role\u201d.\n \nThe most tricky type to handle is the \u2018Self-Saboteur\u2019 who see the potential of change but lack necessary leadership skills so often get left on the sidelines \u201csabotaging the transformation and their own careers\u201d.\n \n\u201cAs a society we can\u2019t get rid of our frozen middle and just pass them on to someone else. We have to get them performing,\u201d PwC Australia said.