From Zappo's holacracy to all the startups touting their "flat org chart," the backlash against management is getting out of hand. Many people see management as the opposite of "doers." They think management sits around all day in their fancy corner offices, collecting accolades for work they didn't even do.
Myth #1: Managers are there to tell people what to do.
Management isn't about issuing top down demands. It's more about figuring out what the goal is, and getting everyone to move toward it. They are the coxswain of their team's crew boat.
Managers exist to make sure the creators on their team are working together and going in the correct direction. As you scale, management's job is to talk to other departments. Is everyone working towards the same goal? Are there overlaps? Should other teams be communicating more closely?
When your company gets bigger, individual team members don't have the time or access to know what other teams are doing. That's the managers' jobs. It's not superfluous; rather, it's streamlining.
Myth #2: Managers are the vanguards of company culture.
It's been said that company culture is as important as compensation when it comes to employee satisfaction. Despite this, culture is neither dictated nor maintained by the management of a company. Your culture is a living thing, and it is evolving with you as you grow. There will always be static values, but they will be expressed differently as your company matures.
For example, one of our core values is transparent communication. When we started out we had a strictly in-office culture here in Manhattan. That policy has evolved, and now more than 50% of the company works remotely, from Los Angeles to Rio.
Communication is still a core principle on the team, but now different processes are in place to honor that commitment in a way that makes remote employees feel in the loop. From top notch video conferencing software to team building activities that don't need to be in person, we've maintained a palpable commitment to communicating company objectives. It's just not always the same ways we did when we started out as a 10 person company, all in one office.
The remote employees themselves gave us the feedback we needed to keep these values consistent. Instead of managers dictating the course of communication based on their hunches about remote work, we instead let our employees guide that conversation.
Myth #3: Managers are a sign of "bloat."
Building a house is not all water fixtures and interior decorating. It's also support beams, wiring, and insulation. This structural integrity correlates to the role of managers.
It's a sign of success that you're now big enough to need people to help communicate objectives across teams. As your "house" gets bigger, you need managers to help dictate the blueprint for how to scale. Tools can help you optimize the processes, but ultimately it's communication that is greasing the wheel, and good managers do just that.
As your company gets older, it becomes wiser (and more successful). The alternative aging company is, frankly, on the brink of death. Hiring managers is a sign of a healthy company. It means there's room to grow, and consequently you need more coxswains driving the boats.
Good management can amplify and accelerate the growth of a good product. Like all things, finding the right balance of support can make the difference between a bureaucracy and a well executed money making machine.