OPINION: A world without a scary zombie apocalypse

Mick Keelty’s review into the response for the recent bushfire in Tathra revealed he came across a number of  “examples of significant animosity at the middle management level” of NSW’s two firefighting agencies.

He said the relationship between the Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue NSW and their “current organisational cultures” makes merging the two “implausible”.

But who is middle management?

Well, if a recent Harvard Business School survey is anything to go by they are extremely unhappy in their jobs, despite having a degree, experience, decent money and good work performance ratings. According to the 2014 United States survey, out of 10 gripes, “poor leadership” was ranked as middle management’s biggest work hate.

It ranked far beyond feeling unappreciated, overworked and helpless.

If this is correct, then more could be done than blame middle management.

Forbes Magazine says many are given the promotion without adequate training, and before long are in charge of a team, often without being able to deal with the most basic tasks, including providing feedback and dealing in conflict resolution.

The magazine draws parallels between surviving middle management and surviving a zombie apocalypse.

Fighting off people who want your job, adapting to constant change, and a lack of direction from above will have those stuck in the middle panicking and tempted to turn on their friends for gain, the magazine says.

In what sounds like a stressful, cutthroat world of survive or perish, you could expect some negative outcomes from being stuck in the middle, with little to no say in how things should happen. 

This makes you wonder what a world without managers would look like.

The world’s largest tomato processor, Morning Star, makes about a billion dollars a year without managers.

Imagine a world with no boss, no title and no hierarchy. Sounds like anarchy right? 

San Francisco based organisational change consultant Doug Kirkpatrick said self-managed workers take on more responsibility, unable to just sweep something under the carpet or palm off a problem to their manager, like a child would with a parent.

“It’s not about having created the perfect world, it’s about getting as close as possible,” Dr Kirkpatrick said.