Book Review: The Middle Muddle

The Middle Muddle

The Middle Muddle – Helping Middle Managers Navigate Careers – By Bimal Rath

This is a must-read book, especially for middle managers. While reading I could relate many points with me and in a way, I found this book very relevant in the current context.

This book elaborates 4 common challenges faced by Indian Managers:

  • Balancing current performance and development opportunities with future career aspirations.
  • Acquiring critical skills and balancing with a wider set of interests.
  • Taking initiative and asking for support, simultaneously.
  • Not reflecting and questioning one’s own path and journey.

The book emphasizes on focussing “here and now” instead of the future to make solid career foundations. Concentrating on “here and now” will help to be more productive, develop deeper capabilities, and contribute positively to their own development and growth.

5 steps that help sustain a career are,

  • Study the audience all the time.
  • Make changes as if your life depends on them.
  • Learn and practice all the time.
  • Believe
  • Collaborate

I personally liked the statement made about collaboration. It is –

“while careers tend to be seen very much as an individual thing, real success comes when we are able to grow together with other people.”

4 points guideline for navigating one’s career within an organization:

Here author has compared career with world’s toughest Yacht race and presented below 4 pointer guideline,

  • The race is long and no two nights (or days) on the sea are the same. In career, context world is continuously changing and we need to be aware of our surroundings. Need to adapt various tactics as per the situation.
  • In the modern workplace collaboration is the key. The ability to use all and every resource and strength available to use is key.
  • Each of us has to be outstanding and what she/he does. Modern organizations are equally demanding and unless one can add and show value, the risk of redundancy is high.
  • Failures and setbacks will happen. In organizations, our ability to balance our past learnings and yet continue to adapt and learn to deal with new conditions will ensure longevity.

The author gives you 4 personal success tips that will help for being relevant in a modern digital workplace.

The processes that can be started are as follows,

  • As lots of things are changing and spending 15 min, every day to just keep oneself updated is worth it.
  • There is much clutter around us in terms of new information, articles, products, services, and opinions, etc. Not all are relevant. So focussing on relevant stuff is the key.
  • Learning to learn is the new success competence.
  • Learn to take baby steps and experiment.

The chapter “Let’s Deal with Our Derailers” explains that a derailer is a weakness that has the potential to limit our progress and hence need to work upon on utmost priority. Here following actions can be taken to work upon derailer,

  • Identify our derailer.
  • Taking small steps to work upon the same. Not to have over-analysis as timely action is more important.
  • Getting comfortable with the new you.

The icing on the cake is the Real Life case studies presented in the book. You can relate yourself with these case studies and the solutions provided can be applied also.

Last section talks about “Coaching as a Potential Development Solution for Middle Managers

In all, it’s an insightful book. With handy tools and tips, it provides both food for thought and the energy to create a personal roadmap for managerial success, helping managers at career crossroads.

The answers lie within each manager. Paradigm shifts and mindset changes are required. These become further learning and leveraging their experience.

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