Just say no to (becoming) middle management.

New Rich friends don’t let New Rich desiring friends become middle managers 😉 It’s nice to see that the new workforce are recognizing the true costs as well:


Middle management is a vital aspect to most corporations existance, perhaps even as vital as food..which is less metaphorical than I’d like. Middle managers are the grist between the upper management + sales + marketing rock and the engineering + creative millstone. They are burdened with all the accountability, yet minimal control and knowledge. This is an unworkable situation as getting to the moon only armed with ducktape. The soul-crushing damage is easy to spot in startup companies as they grow, and in creative type agencies where projects lifecycles mimic corporations on fast forward. Looked at over time the company org chart looks like a stream, where the water near the edges is almost standing still, and the rapids churning out people in the middle. In some projects companies, I’ve seen them turnover through 3 project managers, and or completely burn out people in less than a year!  I realize that work environments can have predator/prey like aspects, but turning excited passionate people committed to making brilliant projects to stressed defensive working insane hours on salary is right up there with clubbing baby seals on my list of fun-time activities to watch or participate in.

To compound problems working is an addition easy to get hooked to, the unlimited hits of a full inbox saying “your important!”, they are so busy working they don’t have time to realize the true costs, until they stumble and gain perspective. Then pehaps they’d decide they’d rather bicycle across the world, and not come back.

The allure of better salary, importance and upgrades seem like glistening gold, but are all typically misleading. Salary at first blush seems a great deal, until they actually find out what the per hour rate is. $70K/70hrs a week is $20 pre-tax. Add in the hidden costs of premature aging, lack of sleep, phone calls, stress, lack of holidays, the true cost might be even in the negative 😉

Upgrade paths are also misleading, there are very few middle managers I’ve met who actually make it higher in the food chain (without jumping ship), or who are actually happier once they get there, this is especially true for engineers and creative types who love building things asked to build and create better people as a good manager should like doing first.

2 thoughts on “Just say no to (becoming) middle management.”

  1. The worst is when middle managers are used as buffer drones by asshat upper management that wants them to do their wet work for them. We had this experience negotiating a $12MM contract with a larger corporation. The middle managers could make no commitments on their companies behalf, so we were never able to negotiate directly with those with authority. It was always, “Let us get back to you.” When they came back to us, it was usually to deliver an extended middle finger from the CEO.

    Turns out the CEO was just like you described, a real son of a bitch that burned through people like matchsticks. People like that ought to be shot, but this cat has been fortunate enough to be in his position with the stock price rocketing. It usually takes real trouble to rid upper management of anti-human, destructive personalities like his.

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