Middle managers have nowhere to hide.
Nobody needs another Yeti.
In the companies I’ve consulted for the last few years, I’ve seen a lot of talent quit on their managers. As they’re adorned with cute company swag, they work for different bosses giving them different direction (mainly on site since the companies were anti-remote even though the jobs were very tech intensive). Millennials and Gen Z-ers buy into the on-the-fly structure of needing to be super nimble to get work done – within and outside of their loosely-defined job descriptions. They invest extra time to learn new skills, tools, and technology, but are never fully supported. They suck up the toll it takes on their mental health as their latest boss sends them into new black holes, tightens the micromanagement screws, and becomes increasingly distant.
In short, their managers are poster children for Zenger & Folkman’s research findings published in Harvard Business Review: Managers who are rated highest on balancing relationships with results saw 62% of their employees of all ages willing to give extra effort and only 3% quietly quitting.
Middle managers have always had it tough. But given this fast-evolving hybrid world we’re in, they can again step up their accountability to build the most important factor Zenger & Folkman report that employees value in their managers: trust. Specifically, this trust takes the form of three traits which the research details: Effort to nurture positive relationships, consistency in delivering what’s promised, and respected expertise of the job you’re asking others to do.
Before managers roll their eyes at happy hour while complaining about their own bosses, maybe they should ensure they’ve gone “above and beyond” with their own teams. Clearly, quiet quitters are a reflection of managers who may have already quit on them.
And employees themselves?
I believe there’s so much to do before checking out while cashing in on their paycheck.
Click here for my take on their role in the third post of this series.