SCOTT DOW -
"Middle-management is a lot of give-and-take. You give-and-take direction. You give-and-take feedback and you give-and-take approval.
You're playing two different roles. You're a boss and a subordinate.
So you're bouncing from roll-to-roll, back-and-forth, all day long. And it creates this psychological tension that wears you down.
Psychologists refer to it as cognitive dissonance. And here's how it works...
- When you want to fix a problem but you don't have the authority, there's psychological tension.
- The same thing happens when you share a decision that you don't agree with, or have to do something you don't like.
And middle-managers are always put in these situations. The constant give-and-take of middle-management creates a lot of mental discomfort because you're always caught in the middle.
You want to keep your boss happy and your team to respect you. You get pressure from above and below. And this constant psychological tension creates chronic stress and that's how you burnout.
Now, what do you do about it?
You've got to develop a belief system and a value system that's based on this give-and-take. Here's an example...
If you believe that you should agree with every decision, you're going to experience a lot of psychological tension. But once you accept that you're going to be asked to do things you don't like or don't agree with, there's going to be a lot less tension.
There are certain things you've got to accept and that becomes your belief system.
Things like -
- You're not always going to have a say,
- You're going to share bad news,
- You don't have the authority that you want (and neither does your boss!)
This isn't a defeatist attitude. It's a realistic belief system based on the give-and-take. And once you embrace it, you can build a healthy value system around it.
So what does that include? Things like...
- Disagreements are okay,
- Assume positive intent,
- Be open-minded,
- Don't judge, be curious,
- See the big picture,
- Trust before you can see,
- Build bridges,
- Be patient,
- Look for the good, and
- Focus on today.
These beliefs and values are going to help you thrive through all the give-and-take and manage a lot of the inner turmoil middle-managers struggle with. A good middle-manager is always compromising, advocating, solving and supporting both their boss and their team.
They're always giving and taking and getting the best out of imperfect situations. It takes a certain belief system and a certain value system, but once you've got it, life gets a whole lot easier."
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