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Excessive Management Layers: Unraveling Its Problems and Exploring Solutions

Excessive management can cause a lot of issues for an organization. To improve productivity, leaders should delayer the organization, centralize decision-making, and ensure accountability.

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Excessive management is a concept that has been widely discussed in the corporate world. The idea behind excessive management is that as you move up the organizational hierarchy, you delegate more and more responsibility to those below you, creating an endless loop of delegation. While this may seem like an efficient way to run an organization, it can lead to problems if middle managers are not given the proper tools and resources to manage their teams effectively.

In this blog post, we will explore the problems excessive management creates and provide solutions to this puzzle. At the end of the day, as business leaders, you want to avoid “a management structure that’s just managers managing managers, managing managers, managing managers, managing the people who are doing the work” - Mark Zuckerberg.

Understanding Excessive Management

Excessive management refers to the process of delegating authority to an unlimited extent. This concept involves a hierarchy of managers and managers managing managers, with each level delegating authority and responsibilities to the level below. 

Essentially, excessive management involves empowering lower-level employees to make more decisions independently without always having to consult with higher-level managers. This can be beneficial in increasing agility and reducing the workload for those in senior positions. However, it can also create challenges around accountability and clarity of responsibility, especially if there is no clear framework for how decisions should be made and who is ultimately responsible for them.

Venture capitalist David Sacks' observation that "everybody wants to be a manager" highlights the rapid pace at which people are advancing in their careers. Sacks, on an episode of the “All-in” podcast, also mentioned that every talented individual contributor is encouraged by the current organizational structure that they must be a manager to move up the career ladder. With this trend comes the concept of excessive management, which refers to the proliferation of management positions and the need for employees to delegate tasks to others to keep up with their growing responsibilities.

Problems Arising from Excessive Management

Excessive management can be advantageous. Nevertheless, in today’s business world, it creates more problems than benefits for organizations.

Communication bottlenecks 

With so many layers involved in passing along information, ensuring that messages are being transmitted effectively can be difficult. This can lead to misinterpretation and distortion of key information, which can, in turn, cause problems down the line. 

Additionally, excessive delegation can lower team productivity and efficiency. When tasks are consistently passed along without clear communication or direction, it can cause confusion and misunderstandings among team members. This can result in delays in completing tasks and hinder the achievement of company objectives.

Lack of accountability

Since so many people are involved in decision-making, it can be difficult to pinpoint individual responsibility when something goes wrong. This diffusion of responsibility can cause the "bystander effect," where everyone assumes someone else will handle the problem.  

Decreased efficiency and innovation

This is due to delayed decision-making processes resulting from multiple layers of approval. Decisions that take too long to make can inhibit creativity and autonomy among lower-level employees, who may feel like their ideas and suggestions are not valued. Consequently, there will be a stagnation of ideas and a lack of innovation, ultimately hurting the company's bottom line.

Slow decision-making processes 

Excessive management creates a situation where too many people are involved in decision-making, leading to delays and confusion as different parties may have different priorities and opinions. In addition, the more people involved, the longer it may take to reach a consensus or make a final decision.

Out-of-control labor costs

When an individual contributor is promoted to a managerial role, they may hire more people to help with tasks. If one of these new hires is also promoted to manager, they may recruit even more team members. This cycle continues, expanding layers and increasing labor costs that can be challenging to handle.

Decreases morale

If employees are constantly given tasks without any clear boundaries or expectations, it can create a sense of overwhelm and frustration, decreasing their level of motivation and productivity. Furthermore, when employees feel like they are constantly being passed off to others without any real sense of ownership or control over their work, it can erode their sense of autonomy and purpose. This will increase the feelings of disengagement and disillusionment with their job and the company.

Solutions to Address Excessive Management Challenges

Often, companies create additional reports for their managers, particularly middle managers, without understanding that this will not solve the underlying issue that excessive management created. The junior employees end up doing most of the work, while the talented middle managers are just managing. 

As business leaders, there are three potential solutions you can explore to address this problem and eliminate the challenges of excessive management.

Solution 1: Delayering the organization

One possible solution to the problem of excessive management is to delayer the organization. This means reducing the number of management levels and empowering lower-level employees to make decisions and take on more responsibility. By doing so, employees will feel more engaged and motivated to contribute to the organization's success, leading to better performance and increased efficiency. 

Also, delayering can reduce bureaucracy and streamline decision-making processes, resulting in faster and more effective responses to changing business needs. 

Solution 2: Reducing redundant roles

Another solution to excessive management is to reduce redundant roles. Often, organizations have multiple people or departments with overlapping responsibilities, which can lead to confusion and inefficiency. Tasks can be done more efficiently and with greater clarity when you streamline roles and responsibilities within your company.

Reducing redundant roles can also help prevent the delegation of tasks to multiple people, which can lead to confusion and errors. Organizations can better utilize resources and improve overall productivity by identifying and eliminating redundant roles.

Solution 3: Centralizing decision-making with proper governance and accountability 

To address the issue of excessive management, it is important to centralize decision-making with proper governance and accountability. This solution involves ensuring that decisions are made by individuals with the necessary expertise and authority to do so, while also establishing clear guidelines and protocols for decision-making. 

As a result, organizations can avoid the pitfalls of excessive management, where tasks and responsibilities are endlessly passed around without any clear resolution. Instead, decisions can be made efficiently and effectively, with the necessary checks and balances in place to ensure that they are fair, transparent, and consistent.

Case Studies and Success Stories


Jeff Bezos has found success in addressing excessive management challenges by implementing several key strategies. 

  • Delegate responsibility: Benzos ensures managers involve their employees in high-level decisions and make them think like owners. The strategy helps delayer the organizational structure and empowers people to avoid bureaucracy. This has resulted in a culture of innovation, where ideas are encouraged and tested quickly. It has also allowed for faster decision-making and more efficient problem-solving. 
  • Maintain morale: Amazon has always proactively addressed morale problems within the company. This approach has helped Amazon quickly and efficiently sort out misalignment problems, which are teams with fundamentally different values or views that cannot work together. It results in the ability to prevent those issues from becoming lasting problems that can harm the company. 


FedEx successfully overcame its excessive management challenges by implementing a delayered organizational structure. In Q1 2023, FedEx’s CEO Raj Subramaniam announced they are cutting down 10% of senior jobs. According to Subramaniam, the decision was made to help the organization become more efficient and agile. 

In the current rapid-changing business landscape, this organizational structure delayering allowed FedEx to stay competitive in the market. The company was able to streamline its operations and get the cost structure in line. 


Excessive management may seem like an efficient way to run an organization. However, it can lead to numerous problems, including communication bottlenecks, lack of accountability, decreased efficiency and innovation, slow decision-making processes, out-of-control labor costs, and decreased morale. 

By delayering the organization, reducing redundant roles, and centralizing decision-making with proper governance and accountability, business leaders can address these challenges and improve overall productivity and performance. It is essential for organizations to critically assess and adapt their managerial structures for improved efficiency and effectiveness.

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Dave Kim

Dave Kim

CTO, Agentnoon


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