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Caught in the Squeeze: The Struggles of Middle Managers

In the fast-paced world of business, middle managers often find themselves tightly pinched between no-win decisions that carry profound consequences. Balancing conflicting objectives, they bear the weight of choosing between short-term gains and long-term sustainability, profit and people, innovation and stability. It’s enough to make even the most resilient leaders proclaim, “ENOUGH!”

Middle managers play a critical role in shaping organizational outcomes while juggling the demands of competing priorities and need essential support from the organization. Here are a few best practices from those organizations whose middle managers are flourishing and engaged.

Recognition and Empowerment:

In order to cultivate a positive and engaged workforce, organizations must make a conscious effort to explicitly express appreciation for their middle managers. Encouraging active participation and valuing their ideas not only empowers these crucial team members but also fosters a sense of ownership and commitment.

Context and Purpose:

Middle managers thrive when they have access to context and clarity in their roles. It is crucial to provide them with well-defined guidelines, policies, and principles that offer a clear framework for decision-making and action. These guidelines should strike a balance between providing structure and allowing for adaptability.

Realistic Expectations:

When middle managers are burdened with unattainable or unrealistic goals, it can lead to frustration, burnout, and ultimately, a loss of motivation. By setting expectations that align with the available resources, timeframes, and capabilities. Realistic expectations provide middle managers with a sense of purpose and achievement, allowing them to focus on meaningful work and contribute their best efforts.

Support System:

In order to foster growth and professional development among middle managers, it is essential to offer mentorship opportunities. Connecting them with mentors from different departments, provides a fresh and objective perspective that can offer valuable guidance and support. Additionally, facilitating networking among middle managers creates a platform for sharing challenges and engaging in confidential conversations.

Available Resources:

It is vital to provide middle managers with access to crucial business information, enabling them to make informed decisions that align with organizational objectives. Additionally, promoting awareness of resources for personal well-being and stress management demonstrates the organization’s commitment to their overall health and fosters a positive work environment.

It's time to prioritize the well-being and success of middle managers. Let's create an environment where they can thrive, make informed decisions, and drive organizational growth. Together, we can build a stronger, more engaged workforce. Take action now and unlock the full potential of your middle managers.

Dr. Merrylue Martin is President and CEO of the Job Joy Group and best-selling author of the Big Quit Survival Guide. To learn more, visit and connect on LinkedIn.


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