Fire Half The Managers

Illustration by Jim Cooke
Illustration by Jim Cooke

As you glance up from your real job and gaze at the rows of offices occupied by “managers,” do you ever get the feeling that nothing of value is really going on over there? My friend, you are exactly right.


Whether you work in a factory, a store, an office, or an army, you may have noticed something disconcerting about the typical arrangement of labor. You, the regular, low-level employee, do actual work—the work that your enterprise is supposed to be doing. You cook the food, you press the sheet metal, you hammer the nails, you stock the shelves, you fold the clothes, you program the computers, you write the news stories. In return for doing the actual work that your enterprise exists to do, you are at the bottom of the pay scale. Above you on the pay scale are layer after layer of “managers.” These managers do not do the work; they supervise those who do the work. They tell those who do the work to do the work. As you climb the ladder of management, this effect is magnified. At the very top of the enterprise you find a small group of people who do nothing but tell people who tell people who tell people who tell people to do the work.

The farther away your job is from doing the actual work, the more highly you are compensated.

This is how things are. It is how things have been for a long time. It may seem like there is little reason to question this setup, what with its historical persistence. But most of us have had at least a moment, when doing actual work—a task with some degree of unpleasantness—of glancing at a manager who is sitting down off in some office and wondering, “Why the fuck is that person getting paid more than me?”

You may be happy to learn that this is a very good question. In fact, the Harvard Business Review has published a sort of back-of-the-envelope calculation that finds that the bloated ranks of management are likely costing our country trillions of dollars per year.

We currently have one manager in the workforce for every 4.7 employees. The HBR cites a glut of real-world evidence that that ratio would be more effective at something like one manager for every ten employees. “Doing so would free up 12.5 million individuals for other work that is more creative and productive.” Furthermore, evidence shows that having too many managers results in regular employees like you having to spend a substantial portion of your time engaged in “ internal compliance activity...of questionable value.” (A system that requires the people who do the actual work to spend time in meetings telling middle managers what they are doing just so the middle managers can go spend time in meetings repeating those things to senior managers is not an efficient system.) Reassign all those unnecessary managers into real jobs and cut out the time that regular employees spend on unnecessary management bullshit and the HBR calculates that the United States of America could increase its gross domestic product by $3 trillion per year.

That is a lot of money. Even half of that is a lot of money. Even a third of that is a lot of money. Even if you assume that these rough calculations are too generous, you must still admit that the cold hard facts of economics show that our nation has much to gain by firing half of the fucking managers sitting on their asses in conference rooms talking to each other. You must admit it is in the national interest to do so. You must admit that firing half of the fucking managers in this country is the patriotic thing to do.


Get a real job, management hippies.

Senior Writer.