How to Become a Middle Manager

Master and Commander

Photo by Sascha Pohflepp / Flickr

Oft-villainized in the cubicles of Earth, middle management gets it from both ends. They take the Middle Manager’s Oath and yeah, if you could just come in on Saturday, that’d be great. But where would business be without inventory controls, workplace efficiency, and paperwork? Every leadership book ever written is pointed at middle management, or those climbing their way there, but you need these five essentials if you want to become a Middle Manager!

Doughnuts in the Breakroom
   1.  Go to college. Yes, you have to. Sure, there are some in middle management without an MBA, but those are the inlaw’s cousins and trophy lovers of whoever signs your paycheck. After you’ve skimmed the ‘Complete Idiot’s Guide to Management’, you need a degree, or two. And, sorry folks, it’s not quite yet okay to get that learning online. Speaking of checkbooks, cha-ching! An MBA can run you $100,000 - $200, 000, depending on how swanky of a school you wrangle your way into.
   2.    Get organized! Schedule a mandatory meeting and show up late. Notice your office’s weekly quota isn’t met on Friday at 3:00p.m. Miss the payroll deadline before Christmas. Do enough of this, Michael Scott, and you’d better not trust those brownies left without a note on your desk Monday morning. As a middle manager your organization skills are the true bridge between co-workers, subordinates, and the people whose names are on the door.

    3.    There is no “I” in “TEAM” and without your office happily slogging through tasks anyone would find mind-numbing, you’re screwed. So learn to motivate in general, and develop enough people skills to find what spurs on your crew as individuals. You want a competitive, but cohesive, atmosphere that supports innovative thought as much as sacred traditions.

     4.    Ethics, get you some. While corporate flicks from the 80s suggest that management's creed is greed and they’ll cut a bitch to get a rung higher up, having a trustworthy reputation will take you much farther. The employees you manage will respect you in the trenches and, when bonus time comes around, the head honchos never forget loyalty and keeping the company out of trouble and courtrooms.

     5.   It’s the really real world and middle managers do indeed get it from both ends and the most effective of them are experts at resolving conflict. This doesn’t mean two-faced lip service depending on which floor you’re getting off the elevator at, but true ability to find effective compromise that leads to progressive resolution. It is literally in your job description.

It has been proposed that while food aid and mosquito nets are great, skilled managers benefit the development of the nation they live in more and for the long haul. Much of what struggling societies need is the same as what any company needs. The streamlining, connecting, and sorting types who keep everyone in line and on their toes may not be Wright Brothers, but they’ve been what’s kept us in the air ever since. And if all else fails, an advanced diploma of management may help.

Toni Meadows is a retired Business professor who now blogs about education and it's importance in society. He has visited several colleges in Melbourne and has written his observations on business courses and opinions about each one.


  1. Nice post with lots of values. the concept are really detailed for ones understanding on how to become a middle manager.


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