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What is Mushroom Management and How to Avoid it

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To stay relevant in today’s business, you have to cherish the ability to quickly change the course. Achieving that promptly and effectively is only possible when the workforce is on the same page with its management. Effectively communicating the information to employees is critical for innovation, customer service, skilled workforce retention, and, ultimately, change. This kind of communication needs to be second nature.

What is mushroom management?

Mushroom management is a theory included in management sciences lately. The Theory name was called based on the metaphor of cultivation “Mushrooms” such that mushrooms are provided manure and left in the dark for growth, and shortly yield is taken. According to this theory, the Mushroom Manager gives his/her employees the necessary job and tools but does not inform them about what purpose they are working for. Also, Mushroom Managers attempts to control all of decision-making process (Mar, 2011). The Mushroom Managers do not share strategies, income, expense, and risks included, and etc. with them. There is an information asymmetry between managers and employees. Communication channels mostly are closed and Mushroom manager may make solution decisions without consulting the team. Nevertheless, the mushroom managers only expect them performance and result (Kılıç, 2015).

Description of Mushroom Management Concept

Management fails to communicate effectively. Keep them in the dark, feed them dung, watch them grow… and cut off their heads when you are done with them. Refactoring: Assume that it is not easy to change management behavior. Therefore, you will need to insist on information in order to get your job done. Eventually, they should get the message.

Mushroom Management is the term used to describe how we manage people like we grow mushrooms: keep them in the dark and throw plenty of manure on them (Herman,1997,66). When they grow enough, get them canned. A style of management where the personnel are not familiar with the ideas or the state of the company and are given work without knowing its purpose. The opposite is open-book management. Curiosity and self- expression of workers are not supported and employees often have no idea what the situation of the company is. Leaders tend to make all decisions on their own and without asking for anybody’s opinion first (Mar, 2011). This problem can occur when the manager does not understand the work of their employees, e.g. programmers, and therefore cannot communicate effectively (Laplante and Neill, 2006).

  1. Over 80% of employees want bosses to share more info and data about the business
  2. One in four employees have, or know someone who has, left a business due to a lack of transparency on business direction and performance
  3. Over 50% of employees say that more company info and data being shared had a significant positive impact on their productivity and performance

Example of Mushroom Management:

Employee1: So you talked to management on our companies re-bid for the contract?

Employee2: Yea, but didn’t get much. Management said there’s nothing to report.

Employee3: How can that be? Our fucking contract is up next month, how can they not know anything?

Employee1: Don’t ask me, dude. Man, I feel like I’m constantly in the dark and fed full of sh*t. Kind of like a mushroom.


The main reasons for the development of mushroom theory of management within a company can be found at the managerial level. Mushroom management often develops when managers see themselves as the sole decision-makers within the company, rather than the people who lead all the employees towards shared success. This can often take place unintentionally: managers fear that their employees will discover important new ideas instead of them, which drives the managers to make bad decisions and prevent employees from taking an active role in their work. As a result, the employees end up doing this work in a mechanical, repeated fashion, without contributing in a more productive or active way.

Good mushroom management

Sometimes, mushroom management can be very helpful if it is handled carefully. This method involves the company’s employees were divided into various groups, each of which has all the information which it specifically needs but nothing more, similar to a need to know approach taken in the military to control access to sensitive material. Meanwhile, the manager is in charge of giving each group the required information. This kind of management is extremely difficult, though, and requires considerable skill.

Three signs you’re a Mushroom Manager

1. Your team doesn’t focus on tasks that align with business goals and performance.

2. Your team does their own digging on company performance data.

3. Your team don’t make their own decisions, they always ask you.

How to Avoid Mushroom Management Information has the power over the world. It is unavoidable to share the information with whom one works. Yet, one of the most important things to do is to be able to differentiate between the information that can be shared with others and that cannot. The company should not give up all its secrets to its employees, because that could do even more harm. Managers should learn how to distribute information and how to communicate with the people they are responsible for (Mar, 2011).


84% of managers apply mushroom management; 87% of employees are exposed to mushroom management.

When these rates are considered, there is a correlation between the mushroom management felt by employees and mushroom management applied. Similarly, in answers given by managers and employees for the question of “what is the purpose of hiding information?” were similar to each other. Likewise, equivalent answers were taken for the question of “what types of information are kept confidential?” According to these findings, it was determined that there is mushroom management applied in the health industry.

On the other hand, managers, who stated that they share all information with their subordinates; create a joint vision and mission mutually with their subordinates, and their subordinates play efficient role in decision mechanism, and they consider satisfaction of both service receivers and givers while making decision, and they act in transparently, constitute 16% of the sampling group.

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