When one gets squeezed between two opposing forces, it is quite usual to start depicting both forces as enemies.
Lousy middle management is a great representation of this.
Middle managers are at the crossroads of contrasting needs and ambitions, and the result can easily get to “management has unreasonable expectations” and “my team is lazy and ineffective“.
Of course, this is a divisive approach. Soon enough everybody hates everybody, nobody is happy, and things never get done.
Being in the middle, though, also means having the opportunity to build a bridge. To stop and sit down and listen to what those needs and ambitions are about, help each part to formulate them in a way that makes sense to the other, and finding ways to be helpful and support action in a common direction.
It takes time, energy, and a lot of confidence in ourselves and others. And it always pays off.