A friend of mine is actually facing this problem.

He currently manages around 12 engineers as their direct manager. He's unable to effectively perform his job since he's supposed to have a very hands on contribution to all meetings and plannings.

In addition he needs to develop career plans for everyone and manage weekly one to ones. Furthermore the team works on multiple different projects that are collectively under the same portfolio so coordination is key.

He was thinking of splitting the 12 engineers to 3 teams and hire (or promote) a manager for each one. His manager is against it though as he wants to reduce the hierarchy as much as possible and not have another layer of managment.

How do you present a successful pitch about that? If refused what can he do to move closer to this goal?

  • 3
    Can he splits the group in 3 teams, and select 1 member from each team to be the team lead for that team ? The 3 team leads should be very senior and highly skilled workers. Your friend could delegate some leadership responsibilities to these 3 team leads. Sep 22, 2021 at 18:45
  • Would the downvoters please explain why so that I can improve the question?
    – Long
    Sep 23, 2021 at 5:15

3 Answers 3


Not going to lie, your friend is probably facing an uphill battle here. 12 direct reports isn't a huge number and your friend's current proposal not only creates an extra layer of hierarchy (which their manager doesn't want) but promoting (or worse hiring) extra managers is going to bring increased costs for the business.

If he wants to successfully pitch this he needs to come up with some pretty convincing reasons why this is proposed structure is beneficial for the business not just him and for why this split also needs his role to continue at the same time. His manager doesn't want extra layers remember - and the last thing your friend wants to do is convince his manager to replace his layer!

If the actual problem is just that he needs his workload reducing slightly because there aren't enough hours in the week then it's probably a better approach to pitch an alternate solution that offloads some of his workload. Whether that's getting him an assistant or deputy, or probably better reducing the overhead.

For example the weekly one-to-ones, say they're currently taking 30 mins each that's 6 hours a week in one-to-ones. Could they be replaced with fortnightly ones instead? Doing this buys him an average of three extra hours a week and an extra three hours a week freed for the team as well.

If the personnel-management aspects are set in stone - then he might have to get creative about other things that are on his plate and see what else can go, whether that's being a bit more stringent on the way other meetings are run or handing off responsibility for one or more of the projects to someone else, maybe one of the more senior engineers.

  • 1
    focus on the solution, not the problem +1 Sep 22, 2021 at 21:15

Perhaps consider other options?

He's supposed to have a very hands-on contribution to all meetings and plannings, in addition to the personnel management aspect. He's stretched entirely too thin to do that with the twelve people he's got. Check. His manager doesn't want to increase hierarchy, which is entirely reasonable - extra layers come at a meaningful cost. So... what about splitting his job in half? Instead of splitting it into three teams, split it into two, and promote one of the engineers to his level, to work directly under his boss. It will mean having fewer people under him overall, but that's his basic issue right now - that his job calls for a greater per-person investment than he can handle with his number of reports.

Of course, if his goals are more "I want my position to look more impressive" and less "I want things to work smoothly" then that's clearly not serving that goal, but it's also giving more of an explanation for why his boss might not want to support his ambitions in this thing.


I recommend your friend seeks further role clarification, as they must take into account the company's vision for their role. Your friend should be able to have open dialog with their manager on what they are trying to accomplish (read: identify your shared goals), and come to an understanding on how breaking the team up either goes with, or against those goals.

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