Too Much!

An administrative bottleneck occurs when too many employees at a lower level of the management ladder are required to directly report to too few persons at a higher rung on the ladder. As in our photo, several persons are dutifully reporting to a single person at the same time, and clearly causing mental overload on the part of the manager. This is clearly an exaggerated situation that can easily be addressed by the manager requiring his team members to meet with him one at a time. But it is excellent for drawing attention to the underlying principle.

Workplace operational structures are designed to facilitate optimal performance efficiency, enhanced economies of scale, increased levels of productivity and maximized pure profits. To the extent that the structure facilitates conceptualization, communication and/or collaboration conflict, the system is flawed and must be remedied.  

The manager in the photo above could be his own problem.  It could be that he failed to structure the maturing of his deliverables. It could be that he failed to delegate enough responsibility to persons on lower levels of the administrative ladder. It could be that he is a micro-manager time-bomb ready to explode. It could even be that he is the targeted victim of a well-orchestrated plot to benignly frustrate an unpopular leader. Whatever is the actual explanation, the photo paints a negative picture.

If after eliminating all of the preceding possible interpretations, the photo depicts a manager who consistently can’t cope because of the weight of his duties and responsibilities, senior management must immediately relieve the crisis by diverting some of the excess workload in order to release a greater level of managerial efficiency from the employer. Of course we cannot overlook the obvious. A manager who cannot manage himself, is unlikely to be able to manage others. He ought to have identified, analyzed and reported his problem to senior management. When unresolved conflicts exist at staff level, things are bad.  When unresolved conflicts exist at supervisor or management level,  we have a crisis.

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