Manager Memo on Career Claustrophobia

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In order to foster greater company growth, it is essential that the executives of tomorrow be given the tools to succeed today. One way that this can be done is by eliminating “career claustrophobia.” According to The Wall Street Journal, “Career Claustrophobia” is a phenomenon mostly encountered by middle management types who are at risk for job loss due to downsizing or personnel diversification, because of their relative lack of skills outside of their given specialized departments (Hymowitz, 2003). There exist several ways in which career claustrophobia amongst the ranks of middle management can be combatted, saving the company capital normally spent in the recruiting and hiring processes and potentially opening doors to new markets with otherwise disposable personnel leading the way.

The first of these recommendations is that any middle management employees who have likely reached the end of their respective corporate ladders- those whose departments either merge with their umbrella department at a certain level of management or are simply not as high of a priority to the company- be given incentives to obtain lateral experience in other departments, so as to become more experienced and hirable as future executives. An example of this type of corporate policy would be a 20-year manager of the Human Resources Department being transferred to the Department of Logistics and Procurement in a relatively equal role, so as to learn the company policies and procedures behind our supply chains. This would make the employee in question more suitable for promotion to an executive position.

Another recommendation for middle management types who may fall prey to potential morale issues such as career claustrophobia is to enlist these employees to help integrate newly acquired businesses into the overall brand. If our parent company acquires a new corporate property, it would be up to the employee in question to ensure the compliance of the new venture with the policies and procedures of the parent company. In instances where this was not the case, the newly appointed manager would be responsible for the institution of policies to bring said venture into compliance with our policies and procedures. The employee in question would gain invaluable upper management experience in such a role and would, therefore, obtain a further diversified business acumen, making them more attractive candidates for promotion to executive positions.

A third recommendation to improve employee morale on the order of career claustrophobia or stagnation among middle management veterans would be to begin placing higher priorities on these specific types of employees for foreign assignments. In cases where a newly acquired venture was in a radically different geographical region (in relation to headquarters/employee station), the employee in question would be tasked with the assignment of assimilating any new ventures or guiding the overall company strategy into a different market or market place. This would create challenges for the individual and give the company insight as to whether or not the employee in question would be able to maintain the high level of output demanded of our executives. Additionally, middle management would be uniquely suited to these positions, as our executives are relatively disincentivized from taking such strenuous assignments and corporate employees lower on the ladder may not have the personal or financial mobility to make a successful foreign transition. Middle management employees are generally in middle age, their children have moved out of the house to allow for more personal flexibility and they are generally high enough on the payroll to be able to incur the expenses asked of them when moving to a foreign locale.

The company would be well advised to begin procedures for implementing the recommendations in this document. As the average age and experience of our workforce begin to creep upwards of the national average, our middle management will likely begin feeling the effects of some potential dead-end positions, and our corporation may see a precipitous drop in employee morale.


Hymowitz, C. (2003, May 24). Baby boomers seek new ways to escape career claustrophobia. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 17, 2014, from