Pfeffer & Sutton: Hire more to learn to get out of the way

Forrest Christian Managing Leave a Comment

Some more from the email wasteland. I have a habit of emailing myself stuff when I’m researching on a machine not my own, so that I can have it. I have no idea where this is from, really. It must have been hardcopy research rather than online. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll find it.

Pfeffer, Jeffrey and Sutton, Robert I. “Sometimes Less Is More”. Leadership Excellence, 23(3): 14-16.

The best way to train yourself to get out of the way is to have lots of direct reports. This guarantees that you can’t possibly oversee each one too closely. Hire people who can do their jobs without close supervision. When you have talented people, you don’t need to do their work for them.

[pp. XX]

This is kind of interesting, taking it from a RO perspective. In one way, this is spot on. When you hire capability, you don’t have to worry about micromanaging. Of course, this is only really going to work when you are one-level above those subordinate to you. Otherwise, you are going to be in the weeds bothering them.

I wonder if the whole “only have eight direct reports” (span of control?) is about needing to be able to do their jobs. I hate doing other people’s work. I often don’t even want to do my own. (Remember, all programmers are lazy, but we call it efficient.) Why a manager would want to do someone else’s work is beyond me.

Yes, I know the reason that it happens. It’s still ridiculous.

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