Too Many Managers Spoil the Broth

March 24, 2014

The original saying is that too many cooks spoil the broth but the cultural definition is that too many people who are involved in managing an activity can ruin it. The dictionary says that this expression alludes to each of many cooks adding something to the soup, which finally tastes awful.

This is a perfect example of government. There are so many layers of bureaucracy that nothing gets done, everyone plays the blame game, and corruption exists in every strata of government.

When we look at how businesses are run, we see the same problem. The companies are top-heavy with managers, most of whom are paid too much and accomplish too little.

One of the most common occurrences in management is when someone in an executive position stops managing and starts doing the work of the people he’s supposed to be managing.

There are all kinds of excuses like it would take more time to explain it to someone than for him to do it. Another is that the men respect a manager who gets down in the trenches with his employees. Still another is not having the time to interview a lot of candidates so it’s easier to do the work than to spend time looking for someone to hire.

None of these people take into consideration that if they are doing the work of their employees, they are not managing; they are just overpaid workers.

While it is understandable that a manager may be too busy to sift through hundreds of job applications and interview the candidates who look interesting, it’s a catch-22. If he’s that busy, he should be handing this part of the job search over to headhunters whose job it is to find good candidates. Headhunters don’t get paid for managing and managers aren’t getting paid to do job searches.

From what I can see, most companies would be more financially profitable if they cut out the middle man, i.e., the middle managers or even many of the senior managers. When a manager is too busy to manage, he’s not earning his paycheck and his company is losing money every time they cut his paycheck.

If those at the top need to delegate so much of their work, then maybe they need to reassess the kind of work they’re delegating and cut out the parts that aren’t profitable.

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