Down with bosses

Managers can take up to 33 per cent of payroll. Are they worth it?

by Colin Campbell

Down with bosses

Luis Markovic/Flickr

Imagine an office with no managers. Workers have no doubt fantasized about it once or twice in the confines of their cubicles, but it’s an idea that could actually have some useful benefits for organizations, argues Gary Hamel, a professor at the London Business School and business strategy expert. Managers are expensive, for starters. A company with 100,000 employees might have 10,000 managers, plus another 1,111 managers to manage the managers, he writes in the Harvard Business Review. All told, they could account for 33 per cent of the payroll. Big management hierarchies also up the odds of “calamitous decisions”—the bigger the decision, the smaller the number of people who can challenge decision-makers—and slow down the decision-making process. They also limit the incentive for lower-level workers to contribute ideas. Of course, in the real world, managers do offer a necessary guiding hand. Even if, as Hamel concludes, it can be “inefficient and often ham-fisted.”




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