Middle Managers Are In A Tough Spot
"Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides." Margaret Thatcher
Middle-class - "Why don't they understand what's going on?", politicians definitely.
Midwesterners - "Why don't the get it?," coastal populations, probably.
Midsection - "I know there's a six-pack in there somewhere," me, daily.
Middle-management - "Why don't they get it?", employees and leadership, usually.
I feel bad for middle-management, I really do. So many of our second-line (and higher) managers are in an unenviable situation.
It's not because they're tasked with running operations, guiding supervisors, and handling customers from below while at the same time fielding tasks, submitting reports, and enduring endless meetings from upper management. That's their job; rather, their upper-level managers aren't developed to the point where they can be effective coaches.
I've heard so many heart-breaking stories from middle managers over the years and the story never changes: They're left in that no-man's-land to fend for themselves...to "figure it out" with little to no support. That has to change.
"What can I read to help make me a better manager?" This is the most common question I have received during my time as a manager, as a professor at college and as a speaker at developmental events.
My response has always been the same: anything leadership and just keep reading. It took a few years, but I eventually realized these individuals weren't really looking for something to read, they were looking for someone to give them some direction...some help.
And then there are the employees. They don't fully understand what middle management does and tend to blame all the company's problems on them. "Why can't it be this way?" is the daily refrain from their staff. The manager can only say "It's company policy" and move on because they aren't able to make changes.
They really are in a tough spot.
Every time I write or release a new video it's with middle-management development in mind. Or rather, how to help senior leaders develop middle managers.
They will be our future leaders and they are responsible for the training and development of the leaders that will follow them. Those of us who are capable owe it to the next generation to ensure they aren't forgotten like we were.