Abolishing managerial positions. Genius move or madness?

Abolishing managerial positions. Genius move or madness?

One of the wise sayings of Solomon states: "Where there is no guidance, the people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is victory." The truthfulness of this statement has been confirmed for many centuries. But how should we understand this "wise guidance" in the 21st century?

Is the solution in managerial positions and job grades? Or can it be found elsewhere?

The story of the Czech company Y-soft may take your breath away.

Czech experiment

Y-soft, a multinational company of Czech origin, deals with cloud software related to printing and 3D printers. It operates in 17 countries across four continents.

At the end of 2018, Y-soft founder Václav Muchna decided to take an unconventional step. Along with a close leadership team, he planned to reorganize the company's key research and development department.

In a department with more than 120 employees, he abolished all managerial positions overnight and transferred the responsibility of the bosses to individual IT workers.

The result? Although the company lost about two dozen extraordinarily talented employees, the department's productivity quadrupled over the next six months.

What is the problem?

So what is the problem? Is the fault with managers, or was it just a coincidence? Can this approach be applied to all companies?

At least the following insights emerge from Y-soft's experience:

Responsibility for final decisions can be transferred to individual department employees.

There is no need for someone above them to wield a carrot and stick.

Employees learn to work as one team, like a family, in which all people are equal.

Time and energy savings

In a manager-led company, a significant portion of bureaucratic procedures depends on the manager's position. They must sign off on vacation time, reports, bonuses, give permission to start projects, and so on.

If the manager is not present in the company, the process stops, and productivity drops sharply. Without a manager, the whole process continues.

Greater employee responsibility

If someone on the team made a mistake, they would go to the manager. It was enough to apologize to them, and if they were friends, they would return without a problem. This sometimes allowed slackers to linger in the company.

At Y-soft, a specific person is accountable for individual mistakes in front of the whole team. That is a much bigger lesson than apologizing to just one person.

More open communication

Y-soft used to communicate only through video conferences. Today, they use posts on shared boards for corporate communication.

The founder of Y-soft adds: "What we wanted to solve in a hotel for two days - and what we wouldn't have finished anyway - was done in six hours. In the online environment, it suddenly turned out that such a large group of people, especially IT workers who are introverts and don't like to express their opinions, can express themselves much better when they write an opinion in a post on a shared board."

With or without managers?

The decision is up to each company. However, the example of Y-soft shows that in a certain corporate environment, bold steps associated with the abolition of managerial positions can positively reflect in the further progress of the company.