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What Good is a Boss or What is a Good Boss?


Posted by Insightlink on 06/12/14

Our research conducted across thousands of workers across the United States from a wide array of companies and organizations tells us that fewer than six-in-ten employees think their boss is doing a good job No wonder the Leadership training industry is booming; there are a lot of bad bosses out there who need help. Part of the problem is that even though we know good bosses act as coaches and teachers, the reality is there are very few people who end up as good bosses. Reasons why this happens is that sometimes talented people are forced into management or power-hungry people are drawn towards management. Often times it’s just a bad fit.

But what good is a boss who doesn’t coach and does a poor job teaching? If there are so many weak managers, is a company better off with them or without them?
In a fascinating interview with Ryan Carson, CEO of Treehouse, conducted by Adam Bryant for the New York Times, Carson describes his company’s decision to get rid of all manager titles. Carson describes the ‘normal political stuff you hear as a company grows-people complaining or feeling disempowered’. Disappointed to see his sweat equity in the company taking such a turn he studied the situation carefully. Together with his co-founder, they realized his people were behaving like people do whenever a manager is put over them, ‘the managers start acting like parents and the employees start acting like children’. So they decided to eliminate the managers and make communications more transparent, so everyone knew they had no manager to hide behind anymore and they would become 100% responsible for their own work and contributions. While they faced some resistance, they finally put it to a vote and 90% voted for the change.

The interesting fact is that their system is working. Carson admits they still make bad decisions sometimes but instead of managers making them, it’s the people actually doing the work. The workers own their work, so there is no one left to blame. Carson says they don’t need to measure performance. Without managers, everyone’s work is public so it’s very obvious whether a person is working and doing good ‘stuff’ or not. He also comments that if people like what they are doing, they do an awesome job at it and don’t require performance measurements.

This style of ‘no-management’ may work because Carson’s company is only 70 employees large. It is hard to imagine a company with thousands of employees running efficiently and productively without some kind of leadership hierarchy but this one example does illustrate how self-determined people can be when they are given the opportunity to do something that matters. Carson’s model also illustrates how productive and happy people can be when they are given the freedom and responsibility to own their work.

We do not advocate that companies do away with their managers but we do know that a bad boss can have serious negative consequences for the people they manage. An employee engagement survey can help any organization uncover their weak spots and learn how their management is helping and hurting the employees they manage. Employee surveys are what we do best; it’s how we can help.

Original article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/06/business/ryan-carson-of-treehouse-on-killing-all-the-titles.html?_r=1

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Insightlink Communications are experts in employee survey design, data collection and analysis. Since 2001 we've helped companies of all sizes measure and improve their employee satisfaction and engagement.



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