Stuck in the Middle: A changing reality…

USA Today did a piece that says most people think [tag]middle management[/tag] sucks – more access, more work, more meetings…. Yup and more opportunities, learning and influence on the organization. [tag]Work life balance[/tag] indeed.

So I had a boss once that said “don’t whine – get a new job”, he was full of bumper sticker management – “Your lacking of planning doesn’t make it my emergency” – I mean a real witster, but not necessarily wrong. The salient part is that if you say yes to something and don’t like it – do something else.

A survey referenced in the story concludes essentially 1 out of 4 want to do something else (promotion, life stuff…) This “I need to do something else” phenomenon is not new [tag]Eric Saperston[/tag]’s movie [tag]the Journey[/tag] influenced lots of kids to do something else. I’m not convinced that this disdain with “what you are doing” is a middle management thing – more of a life thing.

Middle management is a place you can thrive and deliver career influence on many folks in the organization and if this isn’t your thing – then be a contributor. The article cites flexibility as an issue, but I think it is a little long on the drama.

Lack of flexibility

Managers such as Raj Nijjer, who oversees a staff of four software test engineers at a software company in Scottsdale, Ariz., are struggling with whether to remain in their jobs. The 29-year-old and his wife recently had a son, and Nijjer says that as a manager, he can’t avail himself of the same flexibility as his staffers. On a recent day off with his baby, a crisis at work erupted, and he had to go in and conduct meetings with his team.

Welcome to the [tag]blackberry lifestyle[/tag]! The real challenge is integrating WORK into life, not LIFE into work. Use your media access to your benefit. Early morning email, late night email and industry web browsing – helps you better understand the organization, industry and confines the impact to a single sitting rather than on going dribbles and drabs which are interjected into your day.

Remember – anything can be done on a bluetooth and a cellular wireless card for your laptop. Its worth it for you to use your own money, if you can’t get from your employer. The right tools for the right life. A crisis can be VERY effectively managed remotely from a bluetooth device. Long lunches, early days and late arrivals are a privilege of the middle management – sorta.

I’m not saying be a slacker, but if you do 50 hours a week, not many people care where it is done – just that as long as it gets done and done well, that’s the key. (I am making the assumption your good at ALL of your time management and good at your job.)

If you actually manage, lead and are organized most jobs in middle management shouldn’t kill your life.

•More work. Middle-management jobs have become more demanding. Technology means middle managers have to do more multitasking and are expected to be accessible to their staffs, a Herculean challenge in the age of globalization. Employees may be spread across the globe, and a manager may have to get up at 3 a.m. to take a call from an employee in another country.

•Generational differences. Baby boomers, born roughly between 1944 and 1964, were reared with the ideal of company loyalty and the notion of a hierarchical career path that included paying dues and gradually ascending the corporate ladder. Middle management was considered a plum assignment that also brought job security.

Yes the world is different and flatter. A 3 am conference call gets you not coming in until noon or a FULL telecommute day. A conference call at 7PM get you home at 3:30. Balance folks.

The other item is due to the emotional investment more middle managers than not, don’t take all their paid time off which doesn’t help for the “I like my job” quotient. Staying at home and doing only 3 hours of work on a PTO day is better than burning it or banking it for the “future”.

Another trick – I’m a fairly wired worker so I go places where it’s plausible that you have no “bars” on the phone – mountains, 3rd world countries…. [tag]Integrate work[/tag] into life and enjoy the middle management opportunity.


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