scorecardCorporate America is going through a middle-management meltdown
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Corporate America is going through a middle-management meltdown

Dan DeFrancesco   

Corporate America is going through a middle-management meltdown
Careers5 min read
  • This post originally appeared in the Insider Today newsletter on May 23, 2024.

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In today's big story, we're looking at the thinning of Corporate America's middle management, which is putting millennials and Gen Z at risk.

What's on deck:

But first, who's your manager?


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The big story

The great "unbossing"

Hate your boss? Don't worry. They might not be around much longer.

Middle managers are becoming an endangered species in Corporate America, with some companies viewing the role as obsolete, writes Business Insider's Lindsay Dodgson. Remote work, tech efficiencies, and a general push to cut costs have contributed to middle managers' demise.

The immediate impact is being felt by millennials entering their middle-management era. It's another gut punch for a generation that seems to keep getting the short end of the stick.

Having trouble buying a house? Try doing it without a job!

But in the long term, the death of middle management will be felt beyond millennials.

Gen Zers haven't hid their disdain for middle managers. But successfully canceling their bosses means killing a primary source of mentorship and workplace guidance.

That's a big gamble coming from a generation that needed to take classes on making small talk and writing work emails.

Middle managers have always been a bit of an easy target.

We all know that person — or persons — at work whose job isn't abundantly clear. They seem busy, but you're never sure what they're actually doing. If your company were to make cuts, why not start there?

It's a strategy Corporate America, particularly Big Tech, deployed in 2023. The "year of efficiency," as Mark Zuckerberg dubbed it, was all about flattening organizations, and middle managers were the ones getting squished.

But dismissing the much-maligned middle managers as busybodies is misunderstanding their value to a company.

A buffer between employees and executives ensures the former meets the latter's expectations. That point is especially relevant when so many things are changing in the workplace, from the departure of boomers and the arrival of Gen Z to navigating return-to-office mandates.

The death of middle managers could also fuel the current dismantling of another cohort: the middle class.

Eliminating an entire management level means fewer earning opportunities for those looking to climb the economic ladder, which is already becoming increasingly difficult to do.


3 things in markets

  1. Jeffrey Gundlach believes winter is coming for the US economy. The billionaire investor said interest rates will stay elevated, tanking companies and ultimately leading the economy into a recession. For the record, we're not in a recession, even though most Americans seem to think that's the case.
  2. A fat-finger mistake led to a fat fine for Citi. In May 2022, a trader mistakenly tried executing a trade worth $444 billion, sparking a flash crash in European stocks. UK regulators levied a $78 million fine against the bank on Wednesday.
  3. Blackstone is about to start granting stock to portfolio companies' employees. The Wall Street Journal reported that the investment firm plans to give equity to workers at most of the large US-based businesses it buys, following in the footsteps of other private equity giants like KKR.

3 things in tech

  1. TikTok has a secret weapon: millennials. The app's millennial viewership is growing faster than its Gen Z audience. If TikTok can survive the US ban, its growing appeal to an older demographic could make it even bigger and more powerful than it already is.
  2. Meta is considering paying media publishers for AI training data. Internal discussions are still in the early stages, according to two people familiar with the consideration. If it goes through, Meta would join rivals Google and OpenAI in making deals with publishers for their data.
  3. Another win for Nvidia. The tech giant knocked it out of the park again on Wednesday when it posted better-than-expected quarterly sales figures. CEO Jensen Huang also touted strong demand for the firm's Hopper and Blackwell chips.

3 things in business

  1. There's a new way to rate CEOs. Paragon Intel, an alt data company, is rolling out executive ratings, which will show how executives fit into their firms and whether they will drive stock gains.
  2. Target is missing the mark.The store's comparable sales have dropped for four straight quarters, and it's pulling out all the stops to avoid a fifth. That includes cutting prices on thousands of items — a move its CEO says will save shoppers millions this summer.
  3. Buying a house is getting even more expensive. Median home prices climbed nearly 6% year-over-year to hit a record $407,600 in April, according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors. That's the 10th month in a row that prices have risen.

In other news


What's happening today

  • The FAA expects today to be the busiest day for air travel since 2019.

The Insider Today team: Dan DeFrancesco, deputy editor and anchor, in New York. Jordan Parker Erb, editor, in New York. Hallam Bullock, senior editor, in London. George Glover, reporter, in London.




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