The pandemic has changed the landscape for most people at work but none more so than middle managers!
In its most recent Pulse of Talent report the HR tech firm Ceridian found that 90% of middle managers have experienced burnout over the past year, while three-quarters are looking for new opportunities.
And it is no surprise! With an ever increasing pressure to get results as well as look after the wellbeing of their teams, middle managers are most likely feeling like Stretch Armstrong. Studies suggest that they have more a bigger impact on the mental health of their people than GPs - the responsibility is huge!
They are therefore experiencing higher levels of stress, depression and anxiety than people in other roles.
They are literally sandwiched between those above and below them, drawn into conflicts and issues everywhere they turn. They have to meet targets, stay on plan, keep customers happy and make sure their teams are happy, healthy and productive.
Middle managers also have to stay true to themselves whilst aligning with organisational goals and bonding with their people. The balance between being professional and remaining human is not easy to strike!
Being a middle manager can literally feel like navigating shark infested waters, there is little time to rest, relax and take stock like those at other ranks in the hierarchy.
This is why they need extra support! They are imperative to the business so neglecting them would be incredibly foolish. We want to retain good middle managers not allow them to be eaten alive.
What Can Organisations Do?
There are a number of things senior leaders can do in order to get the best out of their managers but let's just start with the three that I feel are the most important right now.
Middle managers need a safe space to be able to work through their thoughts and feelings. They need external mentors so they can avoid feeling judged or like what they may say will backfire.
They also need guidance and support with making decisions, to have the opportunity to have open conversations away from their colleagues. They are often carrying a lot on their shoulders that they are afraid to let go of.
Middle managers are often not given the resources and training opportunities they deserve and need. They need to understand how to be empathetic, vulnerable and human centred. How to develop intentional listening, curiosity and give feedback.
They would benefit hugely from coaching and training to develop and nurture these skills.
They also need to know how to recognise and prevent burnout so that they can manage their own wellbeing and that of their teams.
Middle managers never feel like they have enough time and this is just counterproductive. To be creative, empowered and effective, leaders need their time back!
This means cutting out unnecessary meetings and holding a microscope to processes. Let middle managers get on with what they do best - driving results and caring about their people!
Investing in your middle management teams is essential in the modern workplace, don't get left behind!