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Stuck in the middle.

Photo by Alvaro Matzumura on

Sometimes I think my tendencies as “the stereotypical middle child” directly influence my workplace personality and management style:

  • I don’t like conflict and want to squash it where it exists.
  • I often feel responsible for keeping the peace between the “older” (my supervisor/upper management) and the “younger” (direct reports) — are middle children the best middle managers?? 🤔🤔🤔
  • I love a good compromise.
  • I’d rather “live and let live.”

Unfortunately, the baggage I bring with me as “the middle child” has influence as well: I often feel unheard or neglected; I often get unnecessarily defensive, or defensive about things that are not mine to defend; my desire to keep the peace amongst co-workers sometimes undermines my authority; at the expense of my own self-care, I’d rather ensure the comfort of my teammates.

My husband says I care too much. I know he’s right. He says I shouldn’t lose sleep over it. I do anyway.

I think leading people through a pandemic has not only brought my managerial flaws to the surface, but also it has shone the brightest, biggest-ass spotlight/magnifying glass on them.

And you guys, I’m WEARY. The energy and emotion I’ve sunk into keeping people happy, because “that’s who I am,” has finally caught up with me. I realized the other day that I’ve barely had time to self-reflect on returning to work in the office — and it’s been almost three months. For almost three months I’ve forsaken my own sanity, health and happiness trying to secure the satisfaction and happiness of the people I work with. And now I’m paying the price.

I can’t watch the news. I can barely engage on social media without summoning a significant amount of fortitude. The smallest inconveniences I encounter in a day can set me on a rampage or emotional downward spiral. My resilience has been worn to nothing. Everything has become an uphill battle, and it’s affecting my closest relationships.

I have not struggled more during this pandemic than right now. I’m in a state of, as I’ve aptly labeled it, “post-COVID management fatigue.”

We talk about supporting our employees. Meeting their needs. Motivating them. Being empathetic during this turbulent time. I agree that these are good and necessary things to do as a manager, pandemic state or not, and I do them gladly. But who is supporting the managers who are expected to meet the needs of others, motivate them, and treat them with empathy, while trying to navigate their own thoughts and feelings during this time?

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