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I thought it would be easy to find information on this, but it's actually ended up being surprisingly difficult to get concrete information on this.

I worked as a contractor for a number of years, so I've worked with a fair number of managers; it seems like most of the middle managers I've worked with only spend a relatively small amount of time interacting with their subordinates (e.g. during the the morning standup, perhaps a couple of meetings a week). What do middle managers typically do during the time that they're not interacting with their subordinates? Is someone aware of a breakdown of a typical daily or weekly schedule of a middle manager, and exactly what kind of administrative tasks they'd be required to perform?

I know that a lot of them seem to have a lot of meetings, but what kind of meetings do they tend to have and why?

closed as too broad by IDrinkandIKnowThings, Retired Codger, JasonJ, DarkCygnus, gnat Oct 11 '17 at 21:15

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  • 4
    Varies a lot depending on what sort of work they're in. – user6014 Oct 11 '17 at 20:42
  • 1
    Office politics – Kilisi Oct 11 '17 at 20:42
  • 5
    Uh-oh, someone's on to the secret! – Erik Oct 11 '17 at 20:43
  • @user6014 I would assume so; I'm in technology at this point FWIW. Offhand, do you have any examples of things that they might do? (I'm genuinely baffled as to how they get to 8 hours a day of work). – EJoshuaS Oct 11 '17 at 20:46
  • "What do middle managers typically do during the time that they're not interacting with their subordinates?" - they do other Manager stuff, what stuff depends on every company – DarkCygnus Oct 11 '17 at 20:48
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What do middle managers typically do during the time that they're not interacting with their subordinates? Is someone aware of a breakdown of a typical daily or weekly schedule of a middle manager, and exactly what kind of administrative tasks they'd be required to perform?

I know that a lot of them seem to have a lot of meetings, but what kind of meetings do they tend to have and why?

I don't think I can speak for "typical", but I can speak for myself.

  • I spent around 1-2 hours each day specifically talking and working directly with folks on my team
  • I spent some time meeting with my boss
  • I spent time meeting with my peers
  • I spent time talking with the offshore teams
  • I spent a lot of time writing and updating Status Reports for upper management
  • I spent time preparing Metrics to report up the management chain
  • I spent time approving payroll hours, and vacation requests, and training requests, etc
  • I spent time scheduling, rescheduling, and re-rescheduling people and projects in response to a never-ending stream of requests and project changes
  • I spent lots of time in project meetings for each of the many projects my team was working on at any given time
  • I spent time working as an Individual Contributor on some of the projects
  • I spent time hiring - sometimes lots of time - both employees and contractors
  • I spent time training new hires and coaching existing team members
  • I spent time reviewing the work of folks on my team
  • I spent time reviewing the budget, proposing the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, and trying to accommodate the inevitable changes to the budget
  • I spent time helping Customer Support when they needed second-level help
  • I spent time reviewing Requirements for upcoming projects, and trying to help hammer them into shape before wasting everyone else's time on them
  • I spent time talking directly to customers when it was warranted
  • I spent time trying to soothe hard feelings when someone on my team clashed with folks outside my team
  • I spent time creating and presenting what my team did when others didn't understand, or when someone new came into the company
  • I spent time in Corporate Strategy sessions
  • I spent a lot of time reading and responding to emails either directed at me or where I was CCed
  • I spent time thinking about how to help the team get better in the future
  • In some cases, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to protect and insulate my team from the effects of bad politics occurring within the company at the time
  • I spent a little time trying to figure out how I was going to find enough time in a day/week to get everything done
  • What are meetings and conference calls you have to attend usually about? – EJoshuaS Oct 11 '17 at 21:02
  • I wish I could upvote this answer more than once by the way, it's highly useful. – EJoshuaS Oct 11 '17 at 21:08
  • True, but it still gives good insight into the kinds of things that a middle manager might be doing when not interacting with subordinates. – EJoshuaS Oct 11 '17 at 21:13
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    As usual, an excellent answer. This is exactly what most of the mid level managers I know spend time on. – HLGEM Oct 11 '17 at 21:53
  • @HLGEM I agree, I wish I could upvote it more than once - it gives a very good idea of how middle managers tend to spend their time when not interacting with subordinates. – EJoshuaS Oct 12 '17 at 15:03
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They're managing things, obviously.

Specifically, dealing with all of the crap that comes from higher up in the business and stopping most of it before it hits you.

They're also sugar-coating your results and feeding them upwards.

And they take calls from endless recruiters offering them losers with inappropriate skillsets to work for them.

They also sort their emails into folders and ensure that most of them have a high number of "unread" messages, so that it looks as though they're far too busy to read their emails in lots of different ways.

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    +1 for "They also sort their emails into folders and ensure that most of them have a high number of "unread" messages, so that it looks as though they're far too busy to read their emails." - Cause lets face it thats probalby 80% of their job – IDrinkandIKnowThings Oct 11 '17 at 20:56

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