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The middle management squeeze

  • 3 Min Read

Middle managers face burnout and uncertainty as companies streamline, yet their role remains crucial for organizational health and employee morale. Empowerment through training and automation is essential.

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Middle managers are increasingly feeling the ‘middle management squeeze’ as they bridge the gap between strategic directives and operational execution, facing mounting pressures from both sides.

Burnout alert

It’s not just a rumor. Capterra’s 2023 Middle Manager Survey found 71% of middle managers are feeling overwhelmed and stressed all the time. This burnout is especially bad for younger managers, those in giant companies, and folks struggling with hybrid work setups.

The result? Many are looking for new jobs. Over 40% of managers with less than two years of experience are itching to get out. This exodus could leave a big leadership gap, making things even tougher for everyone else.

From star performer to stressed manager?

Here’s the thing: traditionally, promotions have been based on how well someone does their own job. But being a great individual contributor doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be a great leader. Studies show promotions based on leadership potential only happen about half the time.

So, what can HR do? Work with leadership to choose managers based on the skills they actually need to lead people. This means identifying key leadership qualities and creating other career paths for high performers who might not be management material. By making it okay to say “no” to management, companies can ensure the people who take on these roles are both capable and committed, making the job itself more manageable.

Training the trainers

Manager training is a rare find. Only 37% of middle managers get training when they’re promoted, and a shocking 74% say they never get any ongoing training after that. This lack of development is especially bad for remote managers and those in smaller businesses. There’s also a gender gap, with women being almost twice as likely to report never getting ongoing training.

Learning management systems (LMS) can help bridge this gap by offering digital training programs on things like conflict resolution and project management. Mentorship programs can also be a great way for new managers to learn from seasoned leaders. This mix of formal and informal training is key to giving middle managers the skills and support they need to thrive.

Taking the load off

Middle managers are drowning in work, often spending less than half their time on actual people management. Here’s where automation comes in. Business intelligence tools can analyze performance data faster, and applicant tracking software can speed up recruiting.

Good news is, middle managers seem to like AI. A study found that 76% believe it can actually help them be better managers. By automating routine tasks, managers can free up their time to focus on what matters most: their teams. This strategic use of technology lets them get back to the core of their job – leading people.

Investing in middle management = Investing in success

Empowering middle managers is essential for any company that wants to stay strong and succeed. Companies can support these key players and build a strong leadership pipeline by rethinking promotions, upping training, and embracing automation.

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