Stop and think before you scrap your managers

Stop and think before you scrap your managers


A radical change to business structures is leaking out of Silicon Valley and spreading through Australia and beyond. It even has a name: holacracy. Atlassian has reportedly scrapped its managers and so has Canva.
The tenets of holacracy are simple: authority and decision-making rests with the team that is actually doing the work, not with the boss. Employees, the theory goes, spend their work hours getting work done instead of seeking management approval for every small change in direction. 

But before you scrap your managers, consider the following:


1. Find a career management platform that works for both the individual and the business


The traditional performance review process is broken. Many businesses in Australia have invested in expensive outdated ‘talent management’ systems that reflect what the business wants from its employees: to ‘manage’ them. Today, this approach simply doesn’t work. ‘Talent’ can’t be managed. The role an individual was hired to do six months ago isn’t necessarily the role that person is doing today. With a younger generation of workers coming through, they want to take control of their own career and not have a business dictate to them the path they need to take to progress. Cloud-based career management platforms can allow both the individual and the business to have an ‘adult to adult’ conversation about career development, giving more control to the individual while still providing the manager or leader with greater visibility of the individual’s career goals and how they’re progressing.


2. Drop the ‘manager’ tag and replace with ‘leader’

Rather than scrapping managers altogether, replace them with ‘leaders’. Today, we don’t want or need to be managed. Research has proved that giving people accountability for their actions increases engagement and loyalty towards businesses. Giving authority to individuals to be able to make decisions, not only empowers them but increases efficiency for the business, reducing the chance of bottlenecks.

3. Give more feedback more often

Instead of having to make team members wait for 12 months for their review, over a three-hour meeting, businesses should provide more feedback more often. This feedback shouldn’t just come from ‘managers’ or ‘leaders’ as they should be known, it should be from more than one person – peers, mentors, whomever the individual chooses. That way, a more complete picture can be built of the individual’s progress and a different perspective can be provided.


4. Set goals and objectives between individuals and leaders


It’s important for you to set goals and objectives together with your team members. Ask them how they can contribute to achieve the goals your business has set. Again, it comes down to ownership and if the individual has suggested a goal or objective, they’re much more likely to achieve it, than if they’re given one.

5. Let the individual take responsibility for his/her career development


Finally, helping your team members with their career progression is not all down to you, the employer. Competition is fierce in many industries in Australia to attract the best talent and then once you have those individuals, it’s a common misconception that it’s down to you to nurture them and outline a path for progression. Wrong. Today, this is a shared responsibility. The individual is responsible for their own career, ensuring their experience and skills are documented and taken with them to their next employer.

So before you scrap your managers altogether, adopt ‘leaders’ instead and give individuals more responsibility to self-direct their own careers. Equipping your people with tools and technology that facilitate regular conversation works well from both sides. For leaders, it’s timely information about where your people are going and how they’re tracking. For individuals, they’ll value the opportunity to gain regular feedback and take more control over their career. Do that well, and engagement and work satisfaction will soar.


Anne Moore is chief executive of career management platform PlanDo



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