Middle managers have a thankless task. Trying to translate ‘big-picture’ company strategy into practical solutions. Then trying to coach and motivate teams to make it all happen. I’ve been reading a handful of Harvard Business Review articles on this very subject. A couple caught my eye and they confirmed what I suspected about the frustrations of middle managers.
Implicit in this extraordinary finding is a truth most companies down play and try to keep quiet about. That is being a middle manager is one of the most thankless job ever created. And don’t just take my word for it because another Harvard Business Review study examined the profile of the 5% least happy people in a sample of companies. They concluded:
You might think these would be the people with poor performance ratings or the ones in over their heads – people with inadequate training, education, or experience for the job. Or perhaps they’re the ones who haven’t been on the job long enough to decide they’re a bad fit and move elsewhere. But when we examined the demographic characteristics of these employees, we found instead that they could best be described as those “stuck in the middle of everything.” The middle-performing middle managers who’d been with their company for five to ten years were the most unhappy. These are the very people who ought to be the glue of the organisation.
The managers not only felt under-appreciated, but also overworked and stuck. They were full of a sense of meaninglessness and a lack of purpose. Not least because most complained that the leaders above them weren’t up to much. Almost all companies are dysfunctional in one way or another but the place were that hurts the most is halfway up. It’s no wonder so many people wisely decline to climb the ladder at all.
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