The Return   //   April 9, 2024

Introducing Season 3 of The Return, a podcast about how to help middle management

The Return is a podcast about returning to the office. In season 3 we explore the reason for the burden on middle managers, why it hasn’t lessened in 50 years, and how this layer of the workforce can finally get the support it needs. More from the series →

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WorkLife is proud to present season three of The Return, a podcast about the modern workforce, with this limited six-episode series focused on middle management. 

Last season, we heard what it’s like for Gen Z to enter the workforce for the first time in a post-pandemic world. We highlighted themes like why values are so important to Gen Zers, whether or not they are loyal to their employers, how they use TikTok for career advice, what it means to be a young professional who is a boss to older workers, and so much more. 

For our inaugural season, The Return followed an Atlanta-based advertising agency as the company returned to the office after a two-year pandemic hiatus. There were clear challenges among this population of workers who knew what a “normal” office used to look like. 

This time, we’re hearing from the population of workers that some argue is the backbone of a successfully-run organization: middle management. They are the ones who are navigating those return-to-office mandates, welcoming a new generation of workers that have a different approach than those who came before them, the rise of artificial intelligence – the list goes on.

In season three of The Return, we speak to middle managers themselves to hear beyond their everyday stresses of the job, but what they need to guarantee everyone they manage has what they need to be the best at what they do. C-suite, listen up because they need your help too. 

We dive into how middle management stress is a decades-long issue (there are New York Times headlines on the topic dating back to 1971), how the wrong people are being chosen to be managers which is leading to the rise of “accidental managers,” what it’s like to have hard conversations and having to be a therapist at times, where people are finding support as a middle manager, and how AI is impacting the job of a middle manager. 

We’ll be speaking with folks including Colette Stallbaumer, Microsoft’s general manager of Microsoft 365 and Future of Work Marketing, Rob Pierre, former CEO of advertising services platform Jellyfish, and Emily Field, partner at McKinsey & Company who co-authored “Power to the Middle: Why Managers Hold the Keys to the Future of Work.”

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 — to hear the first episode on Tuesday, April 23.