What does it mean to work in a company with no managers?

 

Everything you need to know if you want to work in companies with flat organizational structures

 

When people hear about a company with no managers, they usually have two reactions:

đź‘Ž  Flat hierarchy doesn’t work.

đź‘Ť  That sounds amazing!

Working in a flat organizational structure comes with a lot of benefits but also many responsibilities. Every obligation that would normally fall on a manager, falls on every single employee. This includes:

- Feedback culture and recognition;
- Performance reviews;
- Decision-making process;
- Recruitment (yes, even this);
- Amongst many other responsibilities.

 

Nmbrs company with no managers - The picture shows a group of our colleagues sitting and talking to each other

 

The amount of new responsibilities and what you can gain from it is very interesting and challenging. It’s also an environment that, as much as we would like, doesn’t fit everyone.

All of our lives, whether we acknowledge it or not, we’ve been following the orders and rules of someone else. In a way, the lives we live since our birth are very hierarchical. We obey our parents, then our teachers. Working in the same structure comes very naturally. And, even though it might not seem like it in the beginning, going against that instinct is not as easy as it looks.

The responsibilities behind a company with no managers

 

There are a lot of different types of work structure even in a more hierarchical company. However, in most of them, the responsibilities of a manager are to:

 

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Be the gatekeepers
of their team

 

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Make the decisions
on what and how to
approach different problems

 

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Be the link between
the team and
the stakeholders

 

 

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Motivate and mentor
every member of their team

 

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Communicate with HR
and manage the hiring

 

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Give feedback and manage
all the performance
reviews of their team 

 

It’s a lot of work, right? And quite the skills collection.
The fact that we have no managers doesn’t mean that all of those responsibilities disappear. They are simply allocated to everyone inside the company.
For this to work, everyone needs to feel that responsibility and is proactive in finding solutions to specific problems. No matter if they are part of the job description or not.
Recruitment is a great example for this. At Nmbrs, this is what recruitment looks like:

 

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We reach out to some people

inside the company that have

the same position as the

one we are hiring for.

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They are responsible for

interviewing, communicating with

HR and helping decide if a candidate will

be hired or not.

You will be the one to work with that person so it makes sense that you get to decide who joins the team. If you’re not used to seeing this as part of your daily job, it will be difficult to really embrace this responsibility.

The same goes for the rest of the manager-like tasks like feedback, performance reviews, decision-making process, amongst others.

It’s all about the mindset

 

No matter which job you have or in which company you have it, either flat organisational structures or not, hard skills and soft skills for that position should be the same in every company. However, how you apply them differs.

At Nmbrs, taking responsibility for things doesn’t mean the same as in other companies. You need to step out of how you’re used to working and understand that your area of influence is much bigger:

 

đź’Ş  If you see something that goes against our values, you have the freedom to address it;

đź’¬  If a colleague on another team is slacking or arriving late, you are entitled to give them feedback;

🤗  If you feel something could change on how we work, you can share your opinion.

 

Nmbrs Company with no managers - It's all about the mindset. The picture shows two of our male colleagues working together at their desk.

 

We are all the guardians of the company and we all contribute to its company culture. As long as we respect others we are entitled to address our colleagues.

Such immensity of responsibilities is not very easy to grasp. Most of the colleagues we hire come from more hierarchical systems. The adaptation process to any company is different from person to person. To help introduce people to this flat hierarchy, we try our best to supply the tools our colleagues need to thrive in a company with no managers since the very beginning.

What it means to you

There are many reasons why someone would find a flat hierarchy great but it also raises a lot of questions. It’s important to understand if it is the best environment for you to thrive in.

At the end of the day, if you want to grow and develop yourself, you need to have the right conditions for that to happen. This is something very personal. Some people need a more structured company to fully grow while others excel better when given more freedom.

Before applying to any company with a flat organisational structure, besides other aspects, think about the following:

Nmbrs Company with no managers - Do you proactively seek other people’s opinions and different perspectives to make a better decision? Do you pursue and accept feedback from people and your team while working? Do you take the lead to solve problems or do you avoid tough decisions? Do you inspire others to take responsibility and ownership?

 

Ownership of the decision-making process leads to amazing growth.

 

Join us!