The term mushroom management refers to a style management where employees (who are illustrated as mushrooms) are kept in the dark and periodically given a load of manure. The “mushroom managers” could be described as managers who plant their employees knee-deep (or worse) in the smelly stuff and keep them in the dark. In practice, this means employees would get to do all the work that they do not want. Managers do not communicate and generally ignore their employees, so employees do not know the company’s plan or what else might be going on in the organisation.
In general, mushroom management would happen within an organisation if managers are more concerned about their own career and image. Anyone who appears as a threat might well be deliberately held back as their ability might make the mushroom manager look bad. This type of managers might also have their favourites on whom they lavish attention and plum jobs, while others are swept away and given the dross.
Other reasons behind mushroom management include:
Although this management type seems negative, it offers some benefits from different angles. For instance, when talking about blind development, the key feature is that employees have almost very limited responsibility. The amount of decisions they have to make is minimal, which reduces stress in the workplace. This might be the only benefit of having mushroom management.
Consequences of mushroom management can be devastating for everybody involved in any way. If the flow of information in a company or in any other environment is insufficient, employees who do not know how to react in situations might prefer to leave the organisation. High turnover or protest rate would be the worst a company can have. In addition, companies with this management style might not be able to have quick assessment and prompt decision making. For example, a company that makes and sells shoes does research about their customer´s preferences and finds out that their preferences have changed. This piece of information is, however, not given to the sales manager of a shop selling the shoes. The shop will still display the “old” shoes and not catch the attention of the customers. At the end, the blame is often put on the shop assistants, because they are in direct contact with the customers.
A mushroom manager can be annoying at some point as they might hold employees back from career progression and give little opportunity for employees to shine. The best thing to handle is to be assertive with this type of manager. Talk to them about what they are doing and the effect they are having. Do not lie down and be the doormat who says “thank you” for any scraps they care to throw at you.
If the manager says the problem is about confidential information that has to be disclosed, leaders (CEO in this case) should together find a solution and learn how to distribute information and how to communicate with employees they are responsible for. One of the most important things to do is to be able to differentiate between information that can be shared with others and that cannot. Some information that CAN be shared include employment-related information, company financial, future operational changes, and personnel changes. While information that CANNOT be shared with all organisational members is usually company’s data, including trade secrets, acquisition plans, financial data, supplier and client information, and employee information. This type of confidential information is usually kept by the higher-ends to ensure its secrecy.