27th November 2023

Bridging the Gap: Combating Middle Management Burnout


In the dynamic and highly specialized field of aviation, middle management plays a pivotal role in ensuring safe and efficient operations. However, the industry is grappling with a skills shortage that is placing immense pressure on middle managers. This blog is aimed at aviation professionals at the director level and explores the critical issue of middle management burnout due to the scarcity of skilled candidates in the aviation industry.

Factors Contributing to Middle Management Burnout

  1. Increased Workload: With fewer skilled candidates available, middle managers often find themselves carrying heavier workloads. This includes managing larger teams, overseeing complex projects, and filling the gaps left by the shortage.
  2. Long Hours and Stress: The aviation industry operates around the clock, and middle managers are frequently required to work extended hours and handle high-stress situations. Over time, this relentless pressure can lead to burnout.
  3. Staffing Challenges: The struggle to find suitable replacements for departing middle managers can result in prolonged vacancies, forcing existing managers to pick up the slack. This, in turn, intensifies their workload and stress levels.
  4. Training and Onboarding: The shortage of skilled candidates often means that new hires require extensive training and onboarding. Middle managers must dedicate time and effort to bring these individuals up to the required standards.

Consequences of Middle Management Burnout

  1. Diminished Productivity: Burnout negatively impacts middle managers' productivity, leading to errors, project delays, and a decline in overall efficiency.
  2. Increased Turnover: Burnout often prompts middle managers to seek opportunities elsewhere. This turnover not only disrupts operations but also results in the loss of experienced professionals.
  3. Three Safety Concerns: Fatigue and burnout can compromise decision-making and reaction times, potentially jeopardizing safety standards and increasing the risk of accidents.
  4. Talent Retention Challenges: The aviation industry's reputation for burnout may deter potential candidates from pursuing middle management roles, exacerbating the skills shortage.

Strategies to Alleviate Middle Management Burnout

  1. Strategic Workforce Planning: Invest in long-term workforce planning that anticipates staffing needs and takes into account succession planning. Identify potential candidates early and provide them with development opportunities.
  2. Recruitment and Retention Incentives: Offer competitive compensation packages, sign-on bonuses, and retention incentives to attract and retain skilled middle managers. Consider flexible work arrangements and other benefits that enhance work-life balance.
  3. Talent Development Programs: Implement robust talent development programs that focus on upskilling and cross-training existing staff. This can help bridge skill gaps and reduce the burden on middle managers.
  4. Collaborative Industry Initiatives: Collaborate with industry associations and organizations to develop initiatives that address the skills shortage collectively. Sharing best practices and resources can be instrumental in finding solutions.
  5. Well-Being and Support: Prioritize the well-being of middle managers by providing access to stress management resources, mental health support, and work-life balance programs.
  6. Knowledge Transfer: Encourage retiring or departing middle managers to mentor and pass on their knowledge to the next generation of aviation professionals.


The skills shortage in the aviation industry poses a significant challenge, and middle management burnout is one of its most prominent consequences. To address this issue effectively, aviation professionals at the director level must recognize the importance of proactive workforce planning, competitive incentives, and collaborative efforts to attract and retain skilled candidates. By taking these measures, the industry can not only mitigate the effects of the skills shortage but also ensure the continued safety, efficiency, and success of aviation operations. Together, we can bridge the gap and secure a brighter future for middle management in aviation.

by William Finden

About the Author: William Finden is the Founder and MD of Oaklands Global. He is a seasoned executive search and recruitment specialist with over 16 years of experience, dedicated to the international aviation & aerospace markets. William leads Oaklands Global’s C-Suite practice and has had a successful career delivering at the executive level for a diverse portfolio of clientele including Business Jet Operators, OEM’s, MRO’s, FBO’s Airlines and Rotary businesses. To learn more about how William can assist with your next career move or to discuss your next director level hire please contact him by email: william.finden@oaklandsglobal.com