How many people do you manage?

This is a question that pops up as soon as one grows higher in the hierarchy? There is a very wrong perception that the more people you have under you (directly or indirectly), more powerful you are.

Is it true? Does it motivate a Manager (even though it may not be the right way) in a way that it affects his output? Or is it the other way around? Is the manager able to focus very clearly on the tasks needed?

From what I have seen, this is just a number and nothing more than that. At any given point of time, one should have an immediate relationship of less than 20 (more than this, one will not be able to do justice). Well, I am not talking about the CxO-level folks here – instead the focus is on the mid-level Managers.

Can they actually figure what their team is working? Not in detail, but at a level that they can converse with their customers and speak sense on the output being delivered. Do they know the issues that the project teams are facing? Do they know the perception from the customer-side? If not, what is the value they are bringing in on the Account?

Very often, I have noticed that Managers think that their position in the organization gets diluted if the number of reportees are reduced. If they can concentrate on motivating the teams to fulfill their targets and help them achieve their goals, that will be of greater help than just having a longer hierarchy.

What is your observation in organizations? Do you feel that a longer chain does help in better management?

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