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Middle management under extreme pressure

What does it actually take to make the work happen in your business?

Survey results indicate that middle management are feeling less valued than others in the workplace due to the burden of translating and executing operational strategy with various stakeholders while maintaining business as usual.

Approximately 44 per cent of middle managers reported unachievable deadlines and targets, along with feelings of not being heard or supported in a timely manner. Senior leaders need to respond quickly when scope or resourcing requests are put forward by middle managers, as these people represent the needs of the business as a whole, not just the needs of their teams.

With increasing pressure from the top to drive revenue, more coaching and skills development is needed for those being managed and led. People at all levels are seeking a more engaged and proactive approach, with 73 per cent of respondents saying that regular feedback and performance reviews are important considerations when looking at changing jobs.

One in two middle managers report the need for senior leaders to understand and acknowledge the time they spend doing overtime. They’re not being heard in this area, and the impact of increasing workloads is leading middle managers to stay silent and consider moving on from their existing roles as pressure mounts.

Middle Managers report their company isn’t doing well at the following:        
(Middle Managers vs Total Average)

    • Promoting internal talent (28% vs. 23%)​
    • Managing change (31% vs. 25%)​
    • Prioritising wellbeing  (32% vs.  26%)​
    • Responding to job satisfaction concerns (41% vs. 33%)​
    • Addressing adequate resourcing concerns (41% vs. 36%)​
    • Those struggling in leadership positions (44% vs. 37%)​
    • Addressing the reasons why people leave (56% vs. 45%)

What can you do?

  • Consider how you can better enable middle management with decision-making capability which is usually allocated to senior management – It may be as simple as increasing their delegated authority.
  • As a manager, find your voice to establish the root cause of bottlenecks, increased workload and burnout.
  • Ensure you have a process for escalation for middle managers, and a sounding board, so they are supported.
  • Identify the business-as-usual elements that could be relieved to help them focus on new areas of responsibility to achieve outcomes.
  • Allocate more time and resources to develop, train and mentor your team.

Practical Solutions and Resources

FREE Digital Library with First Steps

Through First Steps, and available to members and non-members, you have free access to the small to medium business-focused Workplace Wellbeing Risk Diagnostic Tool, and a range of e-Learning and resources.

Assess how your organisation is coping with their wellbeing and to identify key areas to develop as an organisation.

Free Digital Learning:

Building capabilities

1:1 Assistance from an expert:

Your EVP is an internal promise to your employees that defines what people get from working for your company. It helps you build your brand’s internal and external perception and attract and retain talent for your organisation. Our EVP consultancy option is popular amongst our members, and we have worked alongside them to develop a clear and attractive EVP that attracts the talent they need to grow their business.

If this is something you would like to hear more about, please email pxp@ema.co.nz.


Digital Learning


Coaching Mentoring and Delegation
This course teaches the crucial differences between coaching, mentoring and delegation, providing a range of skills in each area to improve organisational performance. You’ll learn the key principles of each approach, and how to put them into practice in your daily interactions with team members. By increasing your capacity to motivate others, your team will feel more inspired and achieve new heights.
Management – An Introduction
You will learn what it takes to become an effective manager in today’s business climate, and how to hone your skills so you can lead successfully, and with confidence. You’ll also learn how to boost your leadership confidence and motivate your staff to work enthusiastically towards your high-priority goals.
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