Springhill Group Counselling|Want Hap...

Springhill Group Counselling|Want Happier Employees? Get Rid of the Bosses

Posted in the Top Stories Forum

Since: Sep 12


#1 Oct 11, 2012
For many employees, a job is a place they go because they have to. They have to pay the bills. They have to get in by 8, work 8 hours, and leave by 5. They have to report to their boss because he has to report to his boss who has to report to... you get the idea.
If your employees are spending well over a third of their time doing things simply because they have to, it should come as no surprise if they seem, well, a little less than motivated.
I noticed this was happening at my company. Our top-down hierarchy only reinforced the problem. Employees were working in silos, instead of collectively, because they couldn't really see how and where they fit into the overarching goals of the business. They completed tasks simply because they had to. I realized that the managers, execs, department heads, etc. were getting in the way.
So, a few months ago I decided to get rid of all the layers. Instead of a rigid hierarchy, I flattened the structure, threw out fancy titles, and reorganized the whole company into teams. It wasn't an easy shift--it quickly became clear that some positions previously amounted to "middle men" and weren't entirely necessary anymore, so I had to let some people go. We're still adjusting, but I can say that even though we're only a few months into it, it's working: We all work in teams that self-manage. There's no need for bosses or management to nag and tell people what to do. And productivity and motivation are through the roof.
Here's how I did it:
The Team Philosophy
Individuals need to be managed, but teams manage themselves. The first step is to break down your departments (they're not the same as teams). In a typical organization, you may have a marketing department that generates a lead, a sales department that then makes the sale, a production department that delivers, and a service department that supports the customer. But when you think about it, everyone should be working for the customer. So instead of employees residing in department silos, create teams that bring them together under this shared goal.
Then remove hierarchy within these teams. No one should have a "senior" or "VP" title. Leaders may naturally emerge within the teams, but there should be no official reporting structure. Initially, I thought my senior level people might balk at this idea. But once they saw the changes in culture and work habits, they got behind it. I let them choose their own titles--as long as they didn't try to introduce hierarchy.
You also want to make sure your team's goals are tied to company goals and company performance. Have your teams measure their own performance at set intervals (every two weeks or once a month may work). They'll learn from their mistakes and continuously improve between milestones.
Take Money off the Table
Money is naturally a "have to." We have to pay our bills so we have to make money. But thankfully money only motivates us to a certain point. Once money is off the table, this is when the real culture shift can happen.
Salaries are naturally hierarchical. But what happens when you eliminate hierarchy in your business? Don't worry--it doesn't involve flattening salaries across the board.(We didn't lower any salaries at Ciplex, though we did give out a few raises.) You still have different pay levels but they're not rigidly tied to certain job titles; they're tied to performance. Now when I make a new hire I always ask the person what kind of salary she's looking for and how much would be enough to get money off her mind. When the salary question is presented in the right way, I find most people are honest. We won't hire the person if we can't afford it. If a team member can pay his bills and not have to worry about money all month, you've accomplished this very important step.

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