One of the consequences of budget reductions and automation is the elimination of layers of middle management. Many places have tightened operations by squeezing out the “assistant” director roles, leaving a “director” with no one to direct.

A challenge for those whose organization still has junior-level positions is the willingness of younger people to take the roles. The stereotypes would suggest that Gen Z and Millennials want a title and autonomy from the start without working their way up the ladder.

Both scenarios converge to create negative implications down the road. Middle management serves as a hands-on training ground for people to become senior leaders. Assistant roles provide opportunities for “grasshoppers” (see dot 377) to become masters themselves. Deputy positions allow a buffer zone for people to make mistakes before they have wider ramifications and allow people to serve as professional apprentices, able to be groomed by mentors.

Organizations may be saving money in the short run by reducing “number twos” but I believe they will pay more for their choice in the long run. Whether you create the organizational chart or are the one looking for a position to take, embrace the learning that assistant roles provide. Direct experience is an amazing teacher.

 

 

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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