Continuing my series on what I’ve learned as PaperG has grown to over 50 people, I wanted to cover my second lesson.
2. Middle Management Now Matters
Everyone loves the idea of “flat organizations” and we’ve wanted to keep it that way from the beginning. As companies grow, one unintended consequence of that is low bandwidth for managers to think strategically, be individual contributors in what they’re good at, or spend much time on any one thing. We refused to hire mid-level managers and executives for the longest time but we started to notice these issues crop up.
After talking to a lot of executives, it seems like many people are able to manage or oversee at least 1-3 people. A select fewer can be capable managers who are able to handle 4-8 direct reports easily. Beyond that, you really start having a hard time devoting enough time to developing talent, delivering on daily needs, and thinking strategically. You start facing much steeper trade offs when having to deal with 10+ people who need you on a daily basis to make decisions, give assignments, or provide guidance.
Middle managers whether they are senior team members, lead positions, or executives drastically free up time and speed decision making. In spite of its poor reputation, middle management can actually make organizations move faster!