One thing that have happened in all of these companies, is that there becomes too many things for certain person to control or manage. That's natural, when companies grow there comes more and more business or product related questions someone needs to solve.
The problematic question is that how to cope with that situation. Often the first solution that comes in mind is to hire a new person to handle the increased workload. Too often this is also the only solution companies know off and decide on hiring a person to handle that workload.
Recruiting in many ways is the most important factor affecting long term success of companies. Companies tend to hire too fast, incompetent people and to wrong roles. For some reason universally it seems to be easier to get the permission to hire more managers or other supporting persons than actually the people who do the value work. In the simplest possible setup, companies only need to have product development guys and sales. Everything else can be questioned.
There are other solutions to increased workload. The first solution to think, should always be, are all of the increased workload really valuable work. Could some of the work just be dropped as a waste. Every company has lot of waste work, meaning things that never have any affect to the end product or to the value customer gets or efficiency overall. Everyone knows in their heart, that they've done some waste work sometimes. Most will do some waste work every week.
Second solution for increased workload is sharing the responsibility. When one can't handle all the things they should, they should first think, how to make sure that all of the necessary things could happen without adding a new person to the group. With proper planning existing people can most often handle all of the necessary things in time. Sharing the responsibilities and giving a good direction most often helps. Most people are willing to take the extra responsibility when given a possibility.
I've never faced a company that would have too few middle management. I count Product Management, Marketing, HR and these kind functions to middle management. Few companies I've seen could have benefited from having some people working for internal tools and processes, but never from having more managers to manage business.
Of course companies need to hire new people when they are growing. Once in a while there is a true need for person to the middle layer. Companies just need to be really careful on hiring them. People in middle layer will come busy and can keep themselves busy. There is always more work than can be done. Key is to know when that work is actually valuable to the company and needs a new hire and when not.
Written by +Henri Hämäläinen