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Middle Managers-dilemmas and more.

Source | LinkedIn : By Bimal Rath

Middle managers are called that because they really are in the middle. Here is a list of 15 ‘dilemmas’ or ‘middles’. All of these are a small distillate from the many conversations with organisational leaders, middle managers themselves and human resource professionals.

These come up as questions from managers, and very often when they are under pressure or really exasperated with things around themselves. The questions or dilemmas appear almost too simple, yet most middle managers struggle with these questions- certainly in their head. Consistently, managers get messages ‘from the system’ which are contradictory in nature and are often struggling to make sense of them.

For middle managers to rise to the top, it is almost imperative to manage these paradoxes, and it takes some learning and skill to be able to navigate through these dilemmas. And each manager will have their own way to do it.

Feel free to add to the list, it’s not exhaustive by any means.

  1. Am I supposed to strategise or execute – looks like I am expected to do both at the same time?
  2. Who do I really represent-the team below me, or the management?
  3. What am I supposed to do–be transparent and frank in giving feedback to the management, or toe the line to be seen as a good soldier?
  4. Should I try to do my boss’s job to be seen as ambitious and having potential, or not? Will he feel threatened?
  5. Now they tell me that my subordinates add more value than me. So should I learn skills which my subordinates have? (very often heard in the tech space).
  6. Am I a leader, or a follower- and when and how? Whatever I try, I get a bit of rap on my knuckles.
  7. My organisation is getting flatter and flatter–so should I become a better individual contributor or a better manager of others?
  8. What is important for me to grow, functional skills or social skills? My appraisal feedback is very confusing.
  9. Some times they talk about width of experience and sometimes about hyper-specialisation. I really cannot do both.

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