Middle Managers - It's Time To Get UNstuck 

Predictive Index Middle Managers Report

Middle Managers – It’s Time To Get UNstuck 

Predictive Index, the backbone of Talent Optimization, recently released their Middle Managers Report.  As a Predictive Index partner and Talent Optimization practitioner, I look forward to Predictive Index Reports and the wisdom they regularly share.   

In collaboration with HR Dive’s studioID, Predictive Index surveyed 246 people leaders to determine what challenges they face and what’s truly troubling middle managers. Among the participants:  

  • 22% were executives with titles ranging from C-Level to EVP/SVP/VP.    
  • 78% of participants were middle managers with titles such as Director, Supervisor, and Manager.  

The findings of this report did not surprise me. In my work in Change Management, Talent Optimization and Organizational Development, I work with leaders at all levels and witness what happens behind the scenes at many organizations. The study found that middle managers:  

  • Feel they lack support from top leadership.  
  • Don’t have the development and training opportunities they need to be successful in their roles.  
  • Lack the resources for their success and that of their teams.  
  • Are on the brink of burnout!  

These challenges perpetuate each other. It’s a vicious circle.  

The consensus is that middle managers are dealing with enormous stress and burnout. Middle managers don’t like managing the way they have had to manage! A significant portion of them would prefer not to have managerial responsibilities if they were able to keep the same income and rewards.   

They are literally “stuck in the middle,” sandwiched between the needs of their direct reports and the expectations of upper management. As anyone who has managed others can attest to, managing others can be stressful. Middle managers have the responsibility of leading their direct reports and informing and driving goals from the executive suites. Often, there simply isn’t enough time to properly support, train and mentor their teams, while completing their day-to-day tasks and addressing requests of their leaders.   

Their intent is to support their people, but they may not be sure what is expected of them and have too much on their plates to put energy into their team. The outcome: burnout, underperforming teams, and disengaged employees. Burnout is prevalent in workplaces and it’s harder to address in remote working environments, which is a reality for many workers today.   

How can we help middle managers succeed? Start with focusing on your people (I’ve said that before, right?!).   

It matters – at every level! We need to do better at training and supporting our new managers – it’s not enough to send them to a 2-day leadership course and say “Congratulations, you’re a leader now! Go do it!” We need to implement initiatives that foster space for practice, coaching, and feedback, such as:  

  • A shadowing/mentoring program to connect Sr. leaders (superstars) with new leaders.   
  • A safe place to practice leadership and get real feedback.   
  • Confirming that high performers want to progress on a manager/leader ladder. They may want to grow as an expert. We must create growth path options that provide progression for independent contributors.  

How do we do this when we are dealing with the work involved in running a business? Make it a priority (for real this time!).  

Middle managers need examples to observe and learn from. They need to see a focus on and demonstration of these qualities:   

  • Role Clarity   
  • Communication/Active Listening   
  • Empathy   
  • Delegation   
  • Coaching/Feedback   

If it were easy, we wouldn’t be here. We need to make time for it – it needs to be a priority and it should be integrated with the work middle managers do every day. This will take real reinforcement and modeling.  

View Middle Manager Report to read the full report. 

You don’t need to tackle this alone! As a Talent Optimization consultant, I can help your organization by uncovering the challenges your managers and leaders are facing and create a custom response package that will help your managers thrive, reduce their burnout and disengagement, and increase traction toward your organization’s success.   

Reach out to me at adrienne.guerrero@embracethedelta.com if you would like an experienced partner to navigate these challenges.   


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