Cultivated Management, Productivity

The number of directs is not a measure of management success

Resist the urge to derive your self-worth from the number of direct employees you have.

Management isn’t about the sheer number of people you can manage.

Management is about getting your business results. Any CFO worth their salt will also ask you to do that with the fewest people possible.

Adding more people isn’t always a good thing. Your emotions will get tested more, your energy will have to be spread to more people and communication challenges will likely increase. More people doesn’t always result in more work.

Lack of enough people can sometimes be a brilliant constraint; it will force you to be creative.

Try to resist measuring your self-worth and success as a manager, from the number of direct reports you have. You’ll be surprised at how many managers have no idea what business results they should be delivering, have no idea what half of their team actually do and yet continue to grow teams. I met one manager who had 140 direct reports……..what do you think her relationship was like with all of her directs?

Instead try something different; try to derive your self-worth and value from the least amount of directs you need, to achieve your business results. That’s the way I’ve always looked at it.

When you phrase it like this you start to look at optimising the process and improving the system people work in, not just adding more people. Some problems won’t be solved by adding more people. Some business problems will actually get worse with more people.

I like to treat all financial and “people” constraints as an opportunity to improve other areas of the process and business, and to be creative.

How few people do you realistically need to achieve outstanding results?