Yes, I was MIA for while (but you probably didn’t notice). Time really is a scare commodity.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about all the men and women who “get it done” in most businesses – the “middle” managers.
Picture this, it’s a holiday party and you and all the guests are eagerly awaiting the dinner bell. You strike up a conversation with your cousin TJ, the Director of Operations for a large firm. TJ has enjoyed a fairly successful 20+ year career with this employer since starting in the management training program. TJ is smart and hard-working and has moved up the ranks, gaining greater responsibility and recognition, surviving the “right sizing” of the early 21st century and currently holds a very visible, high-pressure role. It has always been interesting to hear about TJ’s career journey because it sounds so exciting and rewarding.
But this year things are a bit different. TJ seems less enthusiastic, distracted, and even appears exhausted. You notice that TJ’s career adventure has become simply a job. “It’s just not like it used to be,” TJ explained. “Business is changing so much and it seems to me as if the rules of the game are changing. The pressures are mounting and my job is harder than ever before.”
The Rules are Changing
TJ’s situation is not that unusual for many middle managers. The rules of the game are changing and those changes come from all around us: expanded responsibilities because of globalization and a virtual workforce, advancements in technology and the use of the internet resulting in a 24×7 reality, mobility of the workforce, changing employee expectations as Boomers exit and Gen Y enters the workforce, expanding consumer power because of excess global capacity, and the constant pressure to maintain costs and improve profitability for our shareholders.
Each of these changes or trends has resulted in a marketplace that looks very different from what the previous generation of middle managers saw. The situation is further complicated by the reality that these changes are all happening concurrently.
What are your TJ’s experiencing and what can you do about it? I have some ideas and will comment later.