The notion of corporate hierarchy is complex. The tendency of almost all mid to large size corporations is to define specific jobs and hire personnel to fill them. In turn, every employee knows who he/she reports into and more importantly who will be overseeing their work i.e. their BOSS. Accountability is clearly defined and that employee knows who go to for help and who will evaluate his/her performance.
Of course, even when things are clearly defined, employees can get stuck trying to make decisions and will look to their boss for help. And in turn the boss may consult his/her own boss and so on (peers get involved too). This is pretty common practice and often a healthy exercise. The key is striking a balance between diligent decision making and over-analysis that delays decisions. Good companies provide their employees with the right level of empowerment so decisions are arrived at smartly and decisively. Companies like Zappos!
Having spent twenty years working in corporate hierarchies, I liked knowing that I had one identified person to go to for help. While we all want our corporate independence at work, I can appreciate the value of having someone charged with overseeing my performance (something even CEO's have through their board of directors). It enables a culture of empowerment and accountability and sets the tone for getting things done.
For companies such as Zappos, admired and envied for their culture and level of employee engagement, a balance is clearly being struck so why mess with such a great thing? Zappos seems to be afraid that as they grow, their current infrastructure will no longer work and they could lose the remarkable culture they've created.
Zappos is attempting to get rid of bureaucracy and the rigidness that often accompanies growth. By implementing this new, manager-less culture, Zappos is attempting to focus its employees on the work that needs to be done, versus who actually performs the work. Job titles are being eliminated and employees are assigned to several roles with explicit responsibilities. They are assigned work by designated leads and participate in what are called work circles. Leads only assign work and do not tell people how to do it.
Will this help or hinder? Will there be a clear understanding of who has decision making authority? I'd suggest that while tweaking may be necessary, it isn't necessary to perform a complete overhaul. Of course with their track record of success, I applaud their courage for trying - They've certainly earned it!
Read more here: (link to article) and tell us what you think.
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