Why It’s Easier to Manage 4 People Than It Is to Manage 1 Person

It’s easier to manage 4 people than it is to manage one person. The primary reason for this is the inherent over-reliance in the relationship between a manager and a single report. Let’s dive deeper.

It’s not uncommon for a first-time manager to get a single direct report. Try it out. See how it goes. Here’s what this ends up looking like:

To further the problematic conditions, the single report will often be a very junior hire. This compounds the issue. Straight-from-college hires don’t have great context for what it means to be in industry, to have a manager, to work a job with no end-of-semester in sight. And hires aren’t expected to have as much autonomy in their formative early years. With these variables, the requirements on the manager are higher than average.

It’s not uncommon for these relationships to turn sour. The manager makes mistakes as they always do. The report makes mistakes as they always do. Fingers are pointed. Times are dire. If you ever hear someone call their manager a “first-time manager”, you know the relationship has reached a special level of hell.

To avoid this situation, consider doing the following:

* Note: mangers should be very invested in their report’s success. But when the manager is over-invested it leads to all sorts of unsavory things, some of which are called out above. Another example is when a report is doing well-enough, but because the manager is over-reliant on their performance, they try to push the report beyond what they can or want to do.