If the Shoe Fits: Flat or Not?

If the Shoe Fits: Flat or Not?

Post from: MAPpingCompanySuccess

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mMany founders are considering following in Medium’s footsteps and eliminating all management from their company.

As one of the fiercest and most faithful adopters of Holacracy – a radical new theory of corporate structure — Medium is experimenting with a completely management-free environment that’s laser focused on getting things done.

Before you join the rush, you may want to consider Google, which tried the same thing before scrapping the idea.

That experiment lasted only a few months: They relented when too many people went directly to Page with questions about expense reports, interpersonal conflicts, and other nitty-gritty issues. And as the company grew, the founders soon realized that managers contributed in many other, important ways—for instance, by communicating strategy, helping employees prioritize projects, facilitating collaboration, supporting career development, and ensuring that processes and systems aligned with company goals.

Google is still pretty flat, considering it has 37,000 employees—5,000 managers, 1,000 directors, and 100 vice presidents.

Google started by doing what it does best—using analytics to prove to its engineers that managers have value.

Another is that managers often have 30 direct reports; a simple way to avoid micromanaging and encourage a focus on creating the best conditions in which to produce.

The effort starts at the recruiting stage; top grades and schools are not the guarantee they once were.

There is a major emphasis on cultural fit and a true understanding that it is the power of the individual, as opposed to a job title, that lifts the organization.

And, according to Eric Clayberg, a software-engineering manager, one big difference is that Google works at building managers’ skills; it doesn’t just promote and tell them to get on with it.

That is something that many companies, from startup to Fortune 50, still haven’t learned.

Good managers aren’t born; they are developed through a learned set of skills combined with the right attitude and culture.

Image credit: HikingArtist

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