No managers allowed

Written by Mark Leenders on 16th March 2015

Working without management

At Spindle we work in a different organizational model than most other organizations do. We believe that managers deprive people of their responsibility and their opportunity to develop leadership skills. And besides that, it brings a lot of bureaucracy. Three things we do not like at Spindle.

We believe that freedom and trust form the basis for having nice work. That’s why we do not have managers, supervisors or other ‘bosses’. When you work at Spindle, you are your own boss and therefore responsible for your own work.

Our example in this is Valve. This game developer, founded by a former director of Microsoft, has been working without any management very successfully for many years and Valve employs over 300 people. It turns out that the large majority of staff works effectively with the freedom and room for creativity. And that shows: Valve makes more profit per employee than companies such as Google and Facebook.

No functions. Only roles

We also decided to work with roles and not with functions. And that’s a lot of fun, because it allows you to pick up other work besides your ‘normal’ work. In this way, you can develop more and other skills than you would normally develop. This makes you a better professional and, simultaneously, Spindle a better company.

Does the project ‘besides your normal work’ becomes so large and time consuming that you have created a new fulltime job? Brilliant! Then we are going to hire a new colleague for your ‘old’ activities and you can do what you like and where you are good at.

What about control?

When we tell people about the way we work, the first questions that always pop up are: “What about control? Who makes sure that everyone arrives in time? What if someone doesn’t do a good job?”

Well, those are some good questions, but the answer never is that you need a manager for that.

First of all, when you give your colleagues the freedom to start working at any time they like, they will make their hours and with better results. When you don’t require a sleepyhead to start at 8:00 am, he can start at 10.00 am when he is rested and inspired.

And what if someone isn’t doing his job right?

At the moment you see someone isn’t doing what he is supposed to do, you can say it directly to him. The difference here is that you approach your colleague, instead of his manager. That feels a lot healthier and is better for the work atmosphere. Luckily, at Spindle, we all love ours jobs, so feedback is mostly about how things can be done in a better way and rarely about who is doing something wrong.

In my next article I will try to describe a ‘regular’ week at the Spindle HQ. That will be a challenge…

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