The invention of the middle manager created a buffer that effectively keeps a company’s ‘elite’ segregated from the ‘clerical riff raff.’ It also falsely empowers those who strive for success by placating them with a promotion. It’s the illusion of more control. And I am that middle manager.
I’m not sure about your world at work, but in my experience, simple job tasks have become games of connect the dots. There are 17 people involved when there should be two. This leads to too many opinions, a lot of static noise and a hyper-connectivity, which in this blogger’s humble opinion, leads to work of a lesser quality.
Many middle management positions are redundant and should be eliminated. (Not mine of course! I am uber important).
With the way we communicate becoming easier, more instantaneous and cheaper than ever before, the middle man can truly be cut from the equation. But our jobs are safe for now, because the fat cat, golf playing upper crust folks who sign off on our paychecks would never have it. They will never deal with John in the mailroom or Clarissa from reception.
I’m not lobbying for a phony ‘transparent’ bullpen work environment or saying that you should be high-fiving your CEO, but I would like to mourn the death of linear communication and encourage you to help resurrect it. If not, work becomes nothing more than a game of telephone. Perhaps you remember this game from your grade school days. It starts with one child whispering a message into another kid’s ear. That person then whispers it on down the line. Eventually, the last person in line repeats the delivered message aloud. And, if it’s a bunch of fifth grade boys, it never sounds the way it started. The original message almost always changes during this oral communication game.
Why does the message change? Simple. Perhaps people are bored. Maybe they are striving to leave their own mark. Maybe they were never paying attention to begin with. There are a multitude of reasons. Now imagine playing the game when there are complex issues at hand…money involved…large numbers of people…and personnel scattered in different locations! Welcome to work, where a game of corporate telephone is screwing up everything!
What can you do? Become part of the solution!
– Communicate in-person instead of via e-mail. There is less room for error and your message will be direct, potentially avoiding the involvement of another party to clarify.
– Take charge of projects. We work in a world where people are scared to take control, make decisions and be held accountable. Good leadership knows how to assign roles and keep people on track. Too many cooks in the kitchen always spoil the soup.
– Know your role. When a situation comes up that does not fall within your area of expertise, bow out gracefully and sit on the sidelines. You don’t need to be involved in every nook and cranny of an organization’s affairs.
So are they playing telephone at your office? Share your advice below on how we can end the game once and for all!