The accidental managers
The Great Recession is over, the economic wizards say, and actually ended last summer. With a national unemployment rate still hovering near 10 percent, many people may beg to differ. Even if the economy started growing again in June 2009, there's still plenty of pain to spread around.
But not everyone is experiencing the same kind of recession-prompted pain. For those who've managed to keep a job through the crisis, the economic woes have meant a veritable pile-on of extra work, responsibilities and stress. Some see that as an opportunity. But plenty of others are quietly reeling from their vast new burdens and silently seething over their heavier loads.
Call them the accidental managers. Talent management firm DDI surveyed 2,000 mid-level managers worldwide earlier this year and turned up some surprising results. As the job-cuts axe was swung, decimating the ranks of middle managers, many who remained have been pushed into management roles they never wanted in the first place, DDI reports.
To wit, some 15 percent of middle managers in the survey said they could not refuse promotions they were offered, many of which surely came without additional training or appropriate compensation increases, if they wanted to save their jobs. Another 15 percent of first-level managers weren't at all interested in being a manager before they were promoted. And astoundingly, more than half of the middle managers in DDI's study said they would take a demotion if they could make the same amount of money.
For those in the swelling ranks of the unemployed, the complaints of these accidental managers are surely maddening. Getting a bigger job, even if it's one you don't want, is without question a great problem to have.
But for those who've received these battlefield promotions, the problem is all too real. Employers slashed training budgets at the very moment they were asking people to take on bigger and more demanding roles. They believed a lofty new title would be enough to motivate people, even if they couldn't pay them more or were asking them to do the job of three people. And if these newly promoted managers ask for help--or register a complaint--they risk being seen as ungrateful or not up for the job at a time when everyone is looking over their shoulder.
Besides the downsides of job reductions and training cutbacks, the numbers lay bare an even bigger concern. The fact that more than half of those surveyed would be happy to step down a notch if they could be paid the same amount of cash reveals a worrisome lack of ambition among the broad middle ranks of employers today. Why bother climbing the corporate ladder, their thinking seems to go, if I'm just going to be asked to do more for less, and risk losing my job at any turn?
Job cuts may have been essential at many companies where business slowed amid the Great Recession. And surely, the unemployed masses are feeling the most pain. But leaders are fooling themselves if they don't pay attention to the world of hurt going on among the recession's survivors--the overworked, underpaid and frequently left high-and-dry among their ranks.
September 21, 2010; 11:03 AM ET |
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