In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Valve Corp., a videogame maker based in Washington, was highlighted for its unique approach to traditional workplace management hierarchies. At Valve Corp, there are no bosses. Decisions like pay, hiring and firing, and determining which projects to work on are all decided by either co-workers or the individual employees themselves.
It’s a radical take on the typical management structure and it definitely won’t work for every company. But in some instances, a “flat hierarchy” may be exactly what’s needed to smooth out productivity speed bumps.
The article goes on to shed some light on the thought process behind this type of organizational structure; “Companies have been flattening out their management hierarchies in recent years, eliminating layers of middle management that can create bottlenecks and slow productivity. The handful that have taken the idea a step further, dispensing with most bosses entirely, say that the setup helps motivate employees and makes them more flexible, even if it means that some tasks, such as decision-making and hiring, can take a while.”
However, the article also highlights some drawbacks to this approach; “The system has its downsides. Without traditional managers, it can be harder to catch poor performers.” And, “One study, by researchers at the University of Iowa and Texas A&M University, found that teams of factory workers who supervised themselves tended to outperform workers in more traditional hierarchies, so long as team members got along well.”
It’s an interesting concept that helps inspire thought about how we have traditionally defined corporate hierarchies. So, we want to know, would a flat management hierarchy work at your company? Give us your input by voting in our poll.
Do you have more thoughts on this topic? Share them with us in the comments section below.