Why You Aren’t a Good at Middle Management (and What to Do Instead)

You are nice, you are decisive, and you have always had an excellent reputation as an employee — until you took your first step into management. Middle managers have tough jobs, trying to balance the directions of higher-level management with the complaints of staff. Few can truly flourish in this employment wasteland, where there is little training and fewer rewards for those who demonstrate hard work and dedication to their jobs.

If you are struggling to survive in middle management, you aren’t alone. Here are a few reasons you might not be seeing the results you crave, and what you should do to get out of middle management before it’s too late.

You Aren’t Motivating Your Team Effectively

Managers are leaders, and among the primary goals of business leadership is motivation. Thus, if you aren’t doing anything to motivate your team, you will likely find middle management more difficult than most. Symptoms of unmotivated employees include: increased breaks and absences, lack of focus and productivity, lack of respect for you or other managers and increased turnover. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest management issues to resolve, so with the right attitude and tools, you can overcome this hurdle in no time.

You Are Trying to Balance Managing and Contributing

If you are fresh from the trenches, you might be stuck in your old habits. Managers usually don’t contribute much to their team’s projects beyond big-picture decisions, like budget or deadlines. If you are trying to help your team do the actual work, you will likely find yourself struggling to find time for your managerial duties.

You Are Hiding Important Information from Your Team

Transparency isn’t a fad; it is a tried and tested business strategy that engages employees (and customers) and encourages them to stay loyal and productive. Unfortunately, many newly minted middle managers like to abuse their fresh authority by hoarding information received from on high. By refusing to communicate important decisions and data to your team, you lose their trust and cooperation — making your management job even harder.

You Don’t Feel Like Yourself in This Role

It is important for any professional to feel competent and comfortable in their role. Maybe you don’t like giving directions to people you once considered peers; maybe you feel like an imposter in your new office and company car. Something about middle management might make you feel less like your normal self, and that isn’t good for your mental health or your career.

What You Should Do Instead

Not everyone can be excellent at every job. If you continue to struggle in middle management, it might be advantageous to accept your faults and move on. Here are three career moves if you are ready to accept that middle management isn’t for you.

Move Above Middle Management

Higher levels of management offer different responsibilities than middle management. By rising above, you will make broader decisions regarding the direction of the business; you won’t have to worry as much about individual workers’ workloads and satisfaction levels. You can move up faster by earning appropriate education credentials; you can do this online, so you can continue earning on-the-job experience, as well. You don’t need to worry about how to find the best online MBA — you can use that link to find the right program for you.

Start Your Own Business

One way to rocket to the top — skipping middle management, higher levels of management and even the c-suite — is to start your own business. As a business founder and owner, you make all the decisions for your business, and you might perform all the grunt-work for a while, too. If you despise middle management because you feel out of control, entrepreneurship might be the best path for you.

Take a Step Back

This might not sound great for your career — and executed improperly, it could mean lower pay and worse benefits for your lifetime. However, if you truly enjoyed your job before your promotion to middle management, there may be a way for you regain those responsibilities and maintain the authority and prestige you crave. For example, you might look into freelancing, or you might join a consulting firm. You must be careful with how you manage this regression to avoid permanent career damage.