May 29; 10-10-10, Direct Reports at 3 Levels;
MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK:
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful

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Chapter Five: May Hiring; May 29

So I took the leading men of your tribes, wise and respected men,

and appointed them to have authority over you—

as commanders of thousands, of hundreds,

of fifties and of tens and as tribal officials.

Deuteronomy 1:15

10-10-10

3 Layer

Your Business Professor (L) as a mid-level manager

Your Business Professor (second from left)
as a mid-level manager

“Flat as a pancake.” The best organizational structure for any company is to eliminate all middle management and de-layer the org chart. A good manager should be able to handle two-dozen direct reports. Right?

Right?

Or so goes the popular conventional wisdom of modern management. However, the upper limit for a normal horizontal span-of-control for most concerns is about a dozen.

Think Jesus and the 12 Apostles. An Army infantry square has ten men. The 1967 movie The Dirty Dozen is a better title than The Dirty 24, Not Counting Support Staff…

An organization’s leadership will consider what and who the manager will be managing when a new manager is being recruited—and where vertically in the org chart the manager will work. The military has devoted considerable effort to study this challenge.

Author and CEO Kevin Kruse summarizes the Army’s field manual (FM 22-100) on leadership and tactical management.  Let us review three categories: Direct, Organizational and Strategic.

The text has gone through a number of editions since Your Business Professor was pinned with ‘butter bars,’ the insignia as a Second Lieutenant. Each manager in the three levels should have no more than 10 direct reports. Here are what the levels look like.

Managers of Individual Contributors. These are the first line supervisors with direct contact with the individual contributors. They execute company procedures.

The individual contributors are the staff who do the doing: an accountant working a spreadsheet, an actor on stage, a salesman with a customer, a truck driver or bricklayer. The manager, or coach, foreman, team leader, shift supervisor, communicates directly, most often face-to-face.

The staff are often hourly workers with a short time horizon for production goals—day to day, or week to week; month to month. These immediate managers are also subject matter experts in the work of the direct reports.

Evaluation: What does success look like this month?

Managers of managers. These managers plan, organize, lead and control a team not of individual contributors — but of managers.

The span of control in each of the three categories is of about ten people, which fits the Old Testament Biblical model in Deuteronomy 1:15. The manager of a team of ten who manages ten down-line teams of ten adds up to an army of 100.

This modern centurion leads a team of teams under a longer time line of months to perhaps a year. The decision-making is on procedures.

Evaluation: What does success look like this year?

Managers of the organization. Here the managers decide policy for the strategic direction of the company. They set the vision and policies of the larger organization.

The exercise of influence is the talent needed at the top of the hierarchal pyramid. Here the leader can command his direct reporting managers but he can only indirectly influence and persuade the employees deeper in the org chart.

The CEO’s influence extents beyond the organization to an even greater degree to other stake-holding enterprises. The military calls this “jointness.” Civilians call this ‘collaboration’ and Jack Welch aptly described this as ‘boundaryless’ at GE. The time line is years into the future, extending over the horizon.

Evaluation: What does success look like five years from now?

Different levels of management require different skills in leadership.

So I took the leading men of your tribes, wise and respected men, and appointed them to have authority over you—as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens and as tribal officials. Deuteronomy 1:15

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