I’ve had a change of heart about managers. Something that seems to have gotten lost in the Managers Are Good or Bad debate is the necessary function that managers serve. They organize efforts, solve problems, mediate disputes, and perform many other valuable jobs.
The presence of managers in a company isn’t a bad thing. No company can have a completely flat organization because that would lead to chaos. There has to be someone in charge – someone who is responsible for different departments like accounting, sales, customer service, and quality control. If no one had responsibility for certain tasks or if everyone had the same responsibility to make sure every task got done, hardly anything would ever get done.
Lesson from History
I think of this as the same problem the Founding Fathers faced in 1787. The Articles of Confederation had attempted to flatten the structure of government by giving all 13 states an equal voice and preventing the federal government from having any enforcement power on its edicts. This led to a breakdown in society.
To fix this problem, the Founding Fathers crafted a new system of government that took some power from the states and vested it in the federal government. The Tenth Amendment gave the majority of ruling power to states and the people, but now they had a strong federal government that allowed them to act as one and settle disputes.
What We’re Really Saying
I think that what people are trying to get at when they talk about the shortcomings of managers is that too much centralized power is not a good thing. But the answer isn’t to get rid of managers completely or strip them of all authority. The answer is to balance employees’ needs and responsibilities with the company’s, and make sure everyone has the right incentives and the same goals.
There is a good reason why almost every company has managers: They work! If there is a better way to do business, I’m all ears. We can split hairs about what makes a good manager or leader, or which one is better, but in the end it comes down to the fact that managers/leaders provide valuable service to their companies. They give direction, make sure tasks are completed, and reward employees’ efforts.
Managers still play an important role in business. As long as they keep things running smoothly and allow employees to be creative, their companies will manage just fine.
Robert Lockard is a copywriter with Fishbowl. He writes for several blogs about inventory management, manufacturing, QuickBooks, and small business. Fishbowl is the #1-requested manufacturing and warehouse management software for QuickBooks users. Robert enjoys running, reading, writing, spending time with his wife and children, and watching movies.