Rethinking the manager career path: The Return podcast, season 3, episode 3

This article is part of a special podcast series that covers the challenges and opportunities of returning to the office. More from the series →

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What does it look like when an organization doesn’t have any middle managers at all?

In our last episode, we spoke to Cary Cooper, a professor of organizational psychology and health at the University of Manchester, about the pitfalls of promoting an “accidental manager.” He doubled down on why the best player doesn’t always make the best coach, why proper management training is crucial, and how the younger generations are changing management. 

So to avoid creating an “accidental manager,” what do you do?

Creating a whole new way of promoting managers is easier said than done. But this week’s guest did just that. Rob Pierre is the ex-CEO of Jellyfish, a digital marketing company based in the U.K. During his time leading the company, Jellyfish pioneered a new way of thinking about the managerial path and debated if we need managers at all. 

Throughout this episode, Pierre shares how Jellyfish operated without middle management, whether or not it was hard to implement, and how other organizations can replicate this model.

Across six episodes, season three of The Return explores why middle managers are constantly overwhelmed and what needs to be done to help this cohort of workers who are arguably the most important to a company’s DNA.

We will explore topics including the need for training, where managers can find support, how they navigate tough conversations, and how AI is helping them free up their time to focus on the people part of management.

Season three of The Return is hosted by Cloey Callahan, senior reporter at Digiday Media’s WorkLife, and produced by Digiday Media’s audio producer Sara Patterson. Subscribe to the WorkLife podcast now on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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