« Trends in Employee Recognition Show Growing Importance in Results-Driven, Culture-Oriented Approach | Main | What's That In Dollars? »

05/15/2015

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Wondering if you knew... what the breakdown of the 14% was - managers, supervisors, rank and file?

Hi Jim,
This is not the first time Zappos cut their own path. I had a chance to tour their office two years ago and it is definitely different and it works for them. Tony is a dynamic leader and is passionate in his direction. If anyone can make a unique approach work it is Tony.

The proof is in the fact that they are owned by Amazon and if they were not hitting their numbers I would think he would have less latitude to be different.

I think Zappos will be just fine with their approach. Anyone following their approach without the same conviction or leadership, not so much.

I recall that Zappos is also the organization that gives new employees an opportunity to "walk away" in the post-orientation period (with an incentive), if they feel there's not a good fit between them and the organization, at that point.

I spotted this announcement, and since our office is ostensibly responsible for HR strategic initiatives, we devoted more than 30 minutes of one of our bi-weekly "stand-ups" to this topic. Everyone was intrigued by this approach, but it was so foreign to people, that they almost couldn't grasp how it would work. There was some active discussion that of the 14 percent of folks who opted to resign - how many were employees and how many were managers, who apparently believed they wouldn't be able to adapt to this type of workplace dynamic.

Regardless, the consensus in our work unit discussion was that at least where we work (government), in the absence of greater explicit or implicit empowerment to the employee level, sadly the adoption of the holocracy model would not be occuring anytime soon at our Agency.

I nominate Trevor to be our in-place Seattle CompCafé delegate to further investigate the Zappos initiative. He's a lot closer to them in all ways and understands what we want to know.

Most organizational executives have primal aversions to dismantling chains of command (an extremely appropriate phrase carrying MANY levels of meanings) and freeing the potent powers of their underlings. Like competency pay or basing rewards on KSAs, formal employee empowerment should be the trend of the future. But "...there is nothing so difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things." That is a VERY famous quote from an ancient frequently misunderstood consultant.

In line with paying people who want to leave after a few months of trial employment, Netflix and several others offer the same. Netflix carries it further and uses it to "encourage" poor performers to leave. They figure it's better than terminating someone outright and having to pay lawyer fees.

Regardless of whether you agree or not with Zappos or any other company that is experimenting --- it is a big indicator of management's frustration with the status quo and willingness to embrace new ideas for talent management.

Can you hear applause in the background?

The applause may be drowned out by the sound of the rocks being thrown by those with deep investments in the status quo. Change is hard to initiate and slow to be accepted. We still have stone age procedures and medieval practices at many enterprises.

Thanks for the nomination Jim but I have actually moved back to the little piece of paradise on the coast of CA (San Luis Obispo). The Zappos team is headquartered in Las Vegas and they give tours to anyone interested. They have quite a story if anyone is in town for a conference or vacation.

Just have an open mind when you go.

My apologies for mixing up locations all around, Trevor. Congratulations on your relocation to such a prime place. I'll never forget the Madonna Inn, with its famous "kitschy" rooms and their restaurant's phenomenal fruits and immense vegetables. Now we have an extra excuse to visit Vegas, too.

I think it takes a certain type of employee to function in a "managerless" environment. It requires risk-taking and initiative when many have an intrinsic need to seek approval before acting. I'm sure one of the side effects Tony is hoping for is the purging of those employees who lack the risk-taking and initiative "gene". It will be interesting to see how it works out.

Scott identified some of the key circumstances of entrepreneurship. Self-direction brings clear identification of who to blame or who to credit for whatever happens. No one else to point to, besides yourself, so you own your work in a way impossible when reporting to a boss. Makes for great engagement or rapid departure.

I'm guessing that Zappos has a lot of Gen Y and they want frequent feedback on their work. Wonder who will give it to them w/o managers?

Feedback will probably come from co-workers and team associates, Jacque. It's not like they will work isolated within a vacuum. Drilling into the hyperlinks embedded in my article should show the reinforcement philosophy has been similarly decentralized via quasi-matrix amorphous interaction mechanisms. Dismantling silos and eliminating barriers to broader communication should actually produce more feedback from a larger audience.

A more recent story gave copious detail about the CEO's "standard" Harvard dot-com millionaire entrepreneur background. He apparently made an impulsive decision to move his HQ from Henderson NV to downtown Las Vegas a few years ago. That had to dramatically "focus" the survivors. They must be a uniquely footloose crew who enthusiastically embrace rapid change.

The outfit really gets a lot of admiring press coverage, too.

I am interested to read more about the details but it seems like a new name for something that occurs naturally in some environments. Managers may organize, set direction, and be the default for some decision making but in general the HR departments I have been a part of work as a team. Collaboration and joint decision making is the norm. I have not had a micromanager dictating what I do, just a senior level providing direction per strategic goals.

The manager duties are really mostly required due to the myriad regulations that HR has to ensure compliance with. Someone needs to be a point person and handle the issues that arise.

Empowerment of staff is what a good manager strives for anyway. Set course and let the ship sail itself.

Good analogy, Karen. The captain controls the destination but delegates steering, maintenance and such, empowering the crew to do its job. Sometimes it is called matrix management, cascade MBO process or some other new phrase du jour. Mixing metaphors, one of the best descriptions of management is "being the downfield blocker" opening the path for the runners.

People keep rediscovering great HR procedures that work well. Maybe because there really aren't all that many! Hopefully, they will continue to be refined, too, so they don't have to be relearned so painfully so often.

Note that Zappos is struggling with Holacracy per this interim article http://finance.yahoo.com/news/zappos-banishing-bosses-brings-confusion-023300522.html. It's a lot less laudatory than the usual publicity they get, but they seem to be making progress. Pay special attention to the "surge pricing" pay plan mentioned well down into the article.

The comments to this entry are closed.