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Middle Manager Syndrome

You probably heard about the once famous “Middle Child Syndrome,” which refers to the challenges middle children face with their parents paying much more attention to a firstborn and the baby of the family, leaving them to find their way by themselves. Recently reading about it in an article made me think we have the same phenomenon in the workplace.

We can call it “Middle Manager Syndrome.”

I’ve seen it many times when Middle Managers are stuck between the desire to help, protect, and develop teams they are leading and also being pressured by the C-Level executives to get results no matter what.

Not an easy place to be!

Add to it the fact that C-Suits bosses sometimes see themselves as flawless and ask me “to fix” the middle managers who do not produce the expected results.

The most radical solution for this problem (if we want to stay within the boundaries of the law) is to find another company that provides middle managers with coaching, development opportunities and support.

But if that is not an option, maybe one of the following tips can be helpful:

✔ Don’t suffer in silence. Make a case for what kind of changes you propose and what benefits it will create for you, your team, and the entire company. Executives rarely like listening to complaints but will be much more open to hearing a solution-based pitch.

✔ Don’t suffer alone. The more your team members will understand your position, the more they will be able to help. Sharing your struggles is not a sign of weakness but a sign of trust in your people. Creativity often starts with a request for help.

✔ Don’t suffer. Period. If the C-level managers remain deaf to all your requests, stop looking up and start looking around. I bet other middle managers in your company are feeling very similar. Who said your coach or mentor should be higher in the corporate hierarchy? Peer coaching is a fantastic tool to lend you a hand when you are looking for a different perspective, new ideas, or just getting confirmation that you are not alone.


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