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By David Harder on April, 12, 2016

A Life Raft for Mid-Manager

IN A RECENT Harvard Business School study, mid-managers emerged as the most disengaged of all workers. This isn’t a big surprise. Mid-managers are overworked, undervalued and are the most at-risk employees during lay-offs.


Academics and business authors routinely suggest that we get rid of them.


Mid-managers used to be the “jack-of-all-trades.” We went to them to solve problems and for information. Today, Wikipedia is one of the biggest competitors with middle-management. Attitudes are changing. In many organizations, mid-managers are there to simply keep track of what people are doing. Today, technology does a much better job.


As the need for mid-management changes, there is a real opportunity for these individuals to look at life beyond the trappings of management and become experts, counselors, coaches and leaders who inspire. This is a very different role than someone who checks the boxes of productivity. Engaged workers want and expect to be trusted. The traditional mid-manager meddles with that need.


Today, the mid-manager exemplifies the very type of individual that most needs to change and yet has reached a certain level of success by doing the same thing over and over and over. Ongoing restructuring, the elimination of career ladders and persistent insecurity have diluted the mid-managers’ loyalty, as many become demoralized and disenfranchised. In 2012, Harvard Business Review indicated that almost half of the Gen-Y’s, which represents the largest segment of mid-managers, planned to leave their jobs within two years.


In 2011, Bersin & Associates released the findings of their research and indicated that;


middle managers have fewer resources, manage more people and are less engaged than all other employee groups.”


In many organizations, mid-managers are treated as professional co-dependents, individuals who understand how to work harder, do more, and ask for less. But, unless we turn them into true leaders, we don’t need them and won’t keep them. Their departure, in many cases, represents a great loss of intellectual capital and another failure in teaching others how to change.


Mid-managers wield enormous power in the employee engagement game. Their engagement with direct reports and often far-flung teams determines how most of your employees are going to feel about their job and their customers.


In my work, I find mid-managers usually operate in the trance of frenzy. They have so many tasks and so many problems to solve that big issues of the day often get cast aside, especially if it involves drawing attention to themselves, getting support and influencing the tribe.


There is a common thread amongst many mid-managers who come into The Inspired Work Program. I call it, “Losing One’s Life Through Competency.” Mid-managers are often reward with promotions for solving more problems and more tasks than anyone else. If their role is packaged as an expense, their roles grow but their support systems remain relatively static. They realize they are spending so much time taking care of others, they have forgotten how to take care of themselves. Many of them have forgotten how to build effective support systems. Many of lost track of how to manage their work and personal lives in healthy and wonderful ways.


Poor people will tell you they don’t have money. Mid managers don’t have any time.


In our employee engagement programs, we look for any rituals that can not only sustain the engagement but also deepen it. Mid-Managers need a life raft to have effective lives. I believe the best way to do this is to help them distinguish what is most important and what isn’t. We give many of our clients a set of questions to ask at the beginning of every day. This gives them a five-minute “time out” to examine how they can create the greatest amount of value.

Here is an example:

  • Who most needs my attention and inspiration?
  • What is the most valuable problem to solve today?
  • What is today’s ideal blend of tactical and strategic work?
  • What can I do to sell my ideas and solutions?
  • How can I best take care of myself?
  • How can I grow my circle of support?

This takes five minutes a day.

If ritualized, this exercise sets builds a discipline that sets aside the extraneous and builds more value into each day.


Andrew Wyeth once characterized it like this,


It’s all in how you arrange the thing…the careful balance of the design is the motion.”

Our Next Event:


The Inspired Work Program – April 16 & 17

at the beautiful Luxe Summit Hotel in Los Angeles.


From a time perspective, work is the biggest relationship that we have.


From the founder and President of Inspired Work, David Harder:


“Change is impacts virtually every profession in ways we could never imagine. Culturally, was have been conditioned to look at change as a difficult even bad state of affairs. When we do that, it usually does turn out badly.


But, for the last twenty-five years The Inspired Work Program has introduced participants to the best change of all – finding and leading the life they want to have.


When you participate, you want you to arrive with the highest expectations for us and for yourself. This immersive experience gives every participant a unique experience and the kind of clarity that leads to immediate right action. Now, more than ever, this experience gives you the actual experience of successful and positive self-change. That experience makes it easier to respond to the next wave more effectively and after that, to surf the crest with mastery.


If you relationship with work could use a simple boost, buy a self-help book. But, if you crave a turning point, we encourage you to join us.”


From one of our graduates, Scott Lochridge – President of Dragonfly Organization Services:

“For most of us, there are only a few people that we can say have truly changed our lives. David is one of these people for me. I was introduced to David by a colleague and took the Inspired Work program. It was transformational. His approach and philosophy get to the heart of why we work and why we are here. I can’t recommend him or the program highly enough. I have continued a lively, enjoyable, and fruitful professional association with David and he continues to add incredible value to my business and my professional development. He is a true professional partner, thinking how to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts, always considering your best interests. I look forward to a long, productive, and enjoyable association with him.”


To enroll, call (310) 277-4850.


For more information, click here.