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Stepwise Success

Your Manager is Alone

Published February 24, 2014 6:02 AM by Scott Warner

I’ve blogged about management myths -- many aren’t trained to be managers, for example -- but not about loneliness associated with the job. I discovered for myself last year that as a manager I’m alone, the cart before the cliche of being lonely at the top. Your manager is alone, too.

A recent study from the University of Western Sydney highlights the plight of middle managers. Says study author Dr. Melissa Parris, “The study reveals the day-to-day work experiences of middle managers are leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated and isolated from friends.” In particular, Parris found, middle managers have a hard time distinguishing between being friendly and forming friendships in the workplace.

Lonely people are often unhappy, managers included. As Forbes points out, “Because the leader’s actions reverberate, one person’s isolation becomes a larger problem when it leads to poor decision-making, negativity, fatigue and frustration. And who wants to work for an unhappy person?”

Newfound isolation is especially jarring for those promoted from within. It’s devastating to be proudly promoted into management only to be shunned, ridiculed, and get “attitude” from friends and coworkers. These people know your flaws and too easily take advantage of them. It frankly makes me wonder why anyone would risk promoting from within.

I’m not sure coming in from the outside is any better. It can be impossible to make friends, at least right away, in a political minefield. A new manager is seen as a threat or savior by those who are afraid of losing influence or willing to exploit the situation for their own benefit. It’s a given that any new manager will be alone for a long while. This is even harder to deal with when moving to a completely new area.

I was lucky to make fast friends with the dietary director. We spoke the same language, laughed at the same jokes, watched the same movies, and shared many of the same ideas about the workplace. When he left for another job last year, it was rough. I never realized how lonely my job is until I was alone.


posted by Scott Warner


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About this Blog

    Scott Warner, MLT(ASCP)
    Occupation: Laboratory Manager
    Setting: Critical Access Hospital
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