The Gap Between the (Future) Potential and the (Current) Plight of The Middle Manager
Unleashing the potential of your middle management represents a huge opportunity.
A good manager will improve productivity, motivate teams, boost employee retention, and instill a shared sense of purpose and identity.
However, the current PLIGHT of most middle managers is another story.
As organizations become flatter, faster, and leaner, managers have more responsibilities than ever.
Pulled in all directions, they careen from crisis to crisis.
According to recent research, middle management has disintegrated into a "catch-all" position where the focus is lower-value administrative tasks while less than 25% of their time is devoted to leading teams and empowering people.
Even worse, a middle manager needs to be both a leader (to their team) and a subordinate (to senior management). To effectively do their job, therefore, the middle manager must be constantly switching between two contradictory skill sets.
Is it any wonder that this is the group most likely to suffer from anxiety, stress, and depression with nearly half of them reporting they suffer from burnout?
Across countless industries, middle management feels underutilized, unappreciated, and unempowered.
Adding insult to injury, too many people view the middle manager as a "clay layer" that clogs progress down, pushes paper, and enforces bureaucratic rules.
Pop culture–like Office Space and Dilbert– pokes fun at them.
Some top executives even argue that middle management is an unnecessary expense whose roles can be easily filled by AI and automation, letting go of entire swathes of middle management in order to save costs.
But in fact, middle managers are not bureaucratic baggage to be discarded.
They should be seen as force multipliers, working with individuals and teams to remove roadblocks, transform ideas into reality, enhance productivity, and boost organizational performance.