The Stress of the Middle Manager

26/3/2013 |

Graham Allcott is the founder of Think Productive UK and the author of How to be a Productivity Ninja

In this post he draws attention to the often-forgotten middle manager, and the stressses of “getting it from both sides” 

Hand holding stress ball. Middle Managers suffer stress as much as CEOs
Image by bottled_void


Many people think the most stressful jobs are at the top of organisations.

There is certainly little doubt that such jobs are stressful. Having been a CEO, I can tell you I had a number of sleepless nights and battled pretty intensely with stress, overload and overwhelm. I’ve talked to CEOs of some huge companies who tell similar stories of simply learning to live with stress, minimise it and make that an acceptable state to live in rather than having any magical powers to make it go away completely.

However, there are potential stress agents at every level of every organisation.

Those at the lower levels of organisations and with less responsibility often have less control over their own workload, but still have the same performance issues despite having less freedom to make their own decisions.

Those at the middle levels are the ones I often feel the most sympathy for: eager to please everyone around them and get on, squeezed by the pressures and agendas of their bosses and direct reports – literally caught in the middle.

In one sense, CEOs just need to hire great people: a good senior team around a CEO allows the CEO to delegate responsibility with a sense of confidence and even wonder and awe. Stress isn’t determined by rank, it’s determined by the propensity of the job or situation to create stress agents and our individual ability to deal with what’s thrown at us.


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