Management, manager, self-management.
Hierarchy, horizontal, flat.
Today we are surrounded by such a wide range of terminologies and organizational structures that we don’t even know where to start.
A flat organizational structure is the opposite of a hierarchical organizational one. It means that flat companies don’t have different levels of management so employees have the same voice and are all equally decision-makers. As Poatek has a flat structure, this blog-post will guide you to understand how we work and the way this new (maybe not that new anymore) structure works for us and many other companies.
Every time I say Poatek has no managers, the reaction is always the same: “It’s impossible for a company to work without management!”
This is our first misconception about flat structure:
We DO have management. We just do not have one specific person centralizing the management. I usually say that when you don’t have a manager, it means we are all managers and are all responsible for the role. We count equally on each Poateker (the kind name we use to refer to ourselves as Poatek employees) to manage, control, delegate, and deliver their own daily work and the team’s daily work as well.
Having explained that the second question about our structure is something like this: “So don’t you recognize leadership skills?” or “Do you even have leaders in your company?”
And the answer is YES for both. We do have leadership profiles as we have technical profiles. The difference is that for us leadership is natural. It comes up in each team by necessity and individual skills. We do not force leadership because you need to choose to be “an Architect or a Leader” in order to progress in your career. At Poatek you can be both because the path is gradual, natural, and based on need.
Moving forward with the questioning, this is one of a kind:
“It only works because you are too small”
I’ve joined 25 Poatekers who happen to be as crazy and passionate about Technology as I am. Less than 3 years later we are more than 80. We have grown more than 300% and we have kept our mindset.
Sharing culture!! A simple and complex answer at the same time. Poatek was born agile and this culture is shared from the oldest team members to the newest ones.
Self-management is something teachable and I say it is the key to a flat structure. In order to foster this culture we have important roles to mention: Our CEO, COO, and Partner are individuals who recognize, teach, and lead the company in this knowledge-sharing environment from the beginning. Among then, we have a People team that helps individuals to find their own way to grow, succeed, learn, and teach. And last but not least we have positions as mine, Technical Program Managers. And yes, I know what you are thinking now “She said they don’t have managers but not only do they have them, but she is also one of them”. But the only thing a TPM manages is expectations. Between customers and the team. Everything else, is just us managing our daily work and sharing our self-management knowledge with others just like any other team member.
This organizational model is popular by companies like Netflix, Google, and other giants but none of them are 100% flat. <Alert for personal opinion> I believe this model works better in small/mid size companies since the benefits of it are everyone contributing equally, employees giving suggestions without fear, taking ownership of the process, avoiding creating bottlenecks, and the most important one, growing and succeeding collectively.
Featured Image by Austin Distel on Unsplash.