The Middle Manager’s Guide to Middle Management: Books

The Middle Manager’s Guide to Middle Management: Books

Managers account for 70% of variance in employee engagement scores.

Gallup, 2014 Why Great Managers Are So Rare

It’s daunting for a leader to think that most of their employees leave because of them. As a middle manager, it is too easy to attribute this rationale to reasons above or around you. However, in a survey by Career Addict, 4 in 10 employees stated that they would return to their jobs if their boss were replaced. Still, 40% is an incredibly high number and is not one that any manager can or should dismiss.

Whether you are a new manager or want to help your team, the one thing that I’ve always found helpful is to reset the routines regularly. Of course, in some cases, routines are good things, but if you find yourself in a routine closer to walking on eggshells with your team members, reading is a great way to reframe the dynamic.

Books to Reframe your Manager/Employee Dynamic

Start with Why?

Simon Sinek has a great perspective on employee morale and what keeps individuals engaged. Start with Why is a great read for anyone but specifically for leaders hoping to rekindle inspiration within their organization.

The Coaching Habit

A quick read with a great philosophy and set of questions allows your team a voice. Then, when you are stuck in a pattern with your team, new approaches and ideas for One-on-One meetings can start something new. Although Start with Why is a little higher-level, The Coaching Habit is a practical guide towards establishing a reset with your team.

Thanks for the Feedback

This book is powerful and is for you if you are struggling with receiving or giving feedback. It goes through elements that you or your team may be facing that are hard-wired (almost) into us. The book continues to discuss not only what’s happening physically when people are shutting down but ways to approach overcoming these blockers.

Leadership and Self-Deception

I have leveraged “Leadership and Self-Deception” by the Arbinger Institute with employees when the pattern is obvious to everyone but the two people engaged in the pattern (Employee and Manager). This book moves the conversation away from the dynamic and has been eye-opening for everyone every time I’ve leveraged this book.


This book is a must-read for all managers – in my opinion. We all have baggage; no employee is brand new to the world. The concept of identifying one’s own “Ghost in the Machine” is absolutely beautiful and powerful. I love the complexity of humans. But, if you manage others, you need to start with a good understanding of your own faults.

Additional Resources and References

Why Great Managers Are So Rare, Gallup 2014

9 Reasons Why Employees Quit

Supporting Music

Sweet Jane by Cowboy Junkies

Never Tear us Apart by INXS

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