Recent conversations and previous experience of middle management got me thinking about whether there were any similarities between middle child syndrome and what could be considered a similar position in the corporate hierarchy. So I thought I’d review some of the common characteristics of middle child syndrome and you can see what rings true!
Lack of support
You’re doing a good job of being the middle one, as far as you’re concerned, but you don’t seem to be getting the level of support to do better or go further. You feel neglected. You want to be up there with the more important ones, or maybe you’ve resorted to reminiscing about having more fun and less responsibility, but either way you feel like you’re having to grapple with it all by yourself.
The important thing to remember is that you’re not the only one feeling like it and there are various other means of support out there – often internally and definitely externally, be that a mentor, employee forum, coach or a relevant networking group.
I don’t know where I fit. I’m not the younger one being nurtured, I’m not the older one responsible for leading the way so what’s my role, what do I stand for? Quite often you can get a good way into your career and start wondering if this is what you want for the rest of your life. I’ll refrain from calling it a mid-life crisis as that suggests I’m going to snuff it at 62, perhaps I was simply halfway through my working life and I’m going to be able to retire at 40.
The point is we have often fallen into a particular career course or chosen it for various reasons when we were 18 but both you and the world are a very different place now so is it time to take stock and work out things that you might want to change? It often doesn’t take as much upheaval as you think to get a better sense of identity or start developing a way forwards.
Those above are saying this is how it is, those below are saying that’s not right or possible. And you’re stuck in the middle trying to manage upwards and manage downwards. Sound familiar? You’re trying to challenge your seniors and/or deliver the goods but at the same time keep the peace and bring your people with you.
A recent study by Columbia University’s School of Public Health found middle managers to be the most stressed in the chain of command and twice as likely to experience anxiety than the workers or owners / bosses. Not only are you fighting the middle age spread but you are also up against the middle manager squeeze, joy.
Having a say
As the t-shirts imply, the elders make the rules, for the middle ones to adhere to, who also need to attempt to prevent the youngest from breaking them.
Feeling able to have a say at work and knowing that it has been both listened to and acted upon (even if that is to explain why it isn’t doable) is generally accepted to result in a more productive and happier workforce. Sometimes it will be down to the organisational style of the company. Other times it’s about the individual having the confidence to speak up with their ideas or influencing management to demonstrate that they can and should help drive changes. Either way, with half of UK workers apparently saying they will be looking for a new job this year due to how poorly valued they are and bad management (Independent.co.uk) there is clearly room for improvement.
So what do you think? Any self-diagnoses out there? It would be great to hear your thoughts below or check out the Hired and Happy services if you’d like to explore some of the potential cures 🙂
Image from MunchkinsNPumpkinsUK