The paradox of the middle manager

This is one of my favorite clips on YouTube! It’s a total massacre on middle managers, and being one myself I feel allowed to think this is hilarious. Unfortunately it’s only in Swedish, therefore I’ve provided a translation below, that you can use when watching the clip.

– I’m not only a journalist and body builder, but also an organization consultant. And I will now share with you an observation I’ve made that I have chosen to call ’the paradox of the middle manager’.

– When it goes well for a small company and the CEO can no longer cope, a middle manager is hired.

– This middle manager is communicating with the CEO, takes own initiatives, and lead the employees to great success.

– He or she is performing 100% work.

– The company is flourishing and another middle manager is hired.

– Yes, same thing with this fellow. Everything is smooth and effective.

– The only thing is that the two middle managers must have a short breakfast meeting every morning to inform each other on what they are doing.

– [Phone call] How long is a short meeting?

– [Answer from middle manager at SVT] It’s about a half hour.

– A third and a fourth middle manager is hired and everything is hunky dory. But now their short breakfast meeting takes approximately the time of an average meeting.

– [New phone call] How long is an average meeting?

– [Answer from middle manager at SVT] Hmm, I would say one and half hour.

– A fifth middle manager is hired. But now the problem starts.

– The breakfast meeting takes more and more time. Now it takes approximately 20% of each middle manager’s time.

– Five middle mangers times 20% of a full working day equals 100%, the same as a full-time.

– Hence, these five middle mangers are missing work corresponding to a full-time. And who shall do that work? A new middle manager of course! And he shall also attend all meetings, that now will be longer, and not only that, the meetings are to big for certain discussions.

– Now a new type of meeting is needed. The ”between middle managers”-meetings. Meetings where the middle mangers meets two and two.

– Each middle manger shall individually meet five colleagues. That is five meetings per person. Five short meetings times 30 minutes + an average meeting of 90 minutes means 4 hours. Half the working day is now spent on only informing each other!

– To cover up for this enormous loss in work time a new bunch of middle managers must be hired and when 12 are reached, all of the middle manager’s full work time are taken up by meetings with each other. They are completely self-sufficient just by talking. A closed echo system, like an island in the company.

– And it’s now that the middle managers feels that they are not doing a good job, and they can’t influence their work situation. And then they get burnt out.

– Now you must think that there is no company with this many managers.

– [New phone call] Do you have any extra important meetings at SVT?

– [Answer from middle manager at SVT] There is something called the hundred group.

– Is that a meeting with the hundred most important managers on SVT?

– Yes, you could say that, absolutely.


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