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Three Priorities for Middle Managers

When you retire, nobody will ever talk about what a huge impact your perfect admin record or a stellar Project had on their career.

“PEOPLE, Projects, admin. That order.” It was clear to us where our vice president thought we should spend our time. As middle managers, we were venting about the “busy work” generated from headquarters. We were overwhelmed and unsure what our priorities were supposed to be. But he cleared it up! On a flip chart he wrote: PEOPLE in huge letters. Projects in medium letters. And admin in small letters.

As a middle manager, where do you spend most of your productive work hours? Just like reviewing your bank account tells you something about where your priorities at home lie, reviewing where you spend your time reveals your true priorities at work.

The Admin Trap

It is easy to fall into the Admin Trap. It is always there and there are emails or reminders in your system that keep them front of mind. For some people, checking another admin task off your list gives you an instant dopamine rush because you just accomplished something concrete. The Admin Trap is where many middle managers get bogged down.

The Project Trap

The Project Trap catches you when you are working on something bigger than just admin. It is fun because it may be solving a strategic issue. There may be multiple people involved, or it could be your own pet project. These projects take time. The payoff may not be immediate. But again, when the payoff comes, it is concrete and measurable. The Project Trap, may be sexier than the Admin Trap but it ignores the number one priority of a leader - People.