Historically, middle managers have been viewed as ineffective and weak. In the media, we’re used to stereotypes, like the banal bureaucrat, the bumbling idiot who doesn’t have a clue, or the bossy figure who only cares about looking good in front of the higher ups.

It’s time to put that perception out to pasture. A lot of research shows that, contrary to what we might think, middle managers play an important role in a company’s success. Given that middle managers are responsible for helping your organization run smoothly between hierarchies, acting as a buffer, and ensuring the streamlined functioning of the day-to-day operations, they clearly fulfill a crucial role.

This is now especially true in a world so irrevocably altered by the pandemic.

Companies are more invested in the wellbeing of their workforce, implementing programs that will help people cope with the impact of the pandemic on their professional and private lives, equipping and motivating them to perform at their best for the good of the company. Not forgetting the fact that companies are more reliant on virtual modes of management and communication.

As a result, middle management has stepped up to serve as a vital link within the company. These are the ones who are tasked with establishing stronger relationships with employees, taking the time to listen to what employees have to say, trying to understand what people need, identifying problems, helping meet these needs and resolving issues, whilst maintaining good relations across the company.

The question is, if middle management is so important, why are we harking back to the old familiar tropes of pesky, inexperienced middle management?

This could be thanks to ‘quiet quitting,’ a viral workplace trend that has been sweeping through the Internet this year.

Why Quiet Quitting Is Threatening Middle Management

The phenomenon may be new to the Internet, but it’s really just a new label for an old behaviour. Simply, quiet quitting represents the concept of employees intentionally pulling back from doing anything above and beyond what is contractually required from them.

The bottomline is that this trend is having a negative impact on workplace culture, motivation levels, and productivity and employers are desperately looking for someone to blame. Seeing as middle management plays a vital role in connecting with front-line workers, it makes sense that quiet quitting has been linked to their ability to build internal relationships and create a culture that steers employees away from counting the minutes until they can leave.

The fact is that the least effective managers are thought to have contributed to three to four times as many people opting to quietly quit.

A Major Reality Check

It’s tempting to come down hard on your management team if you suspect that they are responsible for the growing horde of quiet quitters. But the reality is that managers are people. They are flesh and blood, with their own dreams, desires, and personal challenges. Importantly, they are equally vulnerable to burnout and are just as likely to disengage as any other employee.

It’s easy to blame these individuals, but it’s far more critical to support these employees and equip them to better serve their teams. By including your managers in this strategy, they will be primed to serve as a better conduit between upper management and the workers, manage expectations, act empathetically, and strengthen the rapport with their teams.

Spot It, Support It, Stop It

Just as it is important for managers to connect with employees in a meaningful way to discuss goals, recognise good work, and get to know their people’s strengths, work-life circumstances, and preferences… it is imperative that business leaders do the same with their managers.

If you’re looking for tips and advice on how to support and equip your middle management team, then talk to us at Red Door Training. We specialize in helping leaders and managers perform at their best within their designated roles, communicate with clarity to their teams, and propel the company towards success.