Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

No Bosses, No Managers

It’s your first day working for a business without a boss and you’re given a new employee handbook.

As you skim through the book you discover there’s no managers, nobody has an official title or job description, and you’re free to work on any available project.

This isn’t a new age dream. It’s how video game developer Valve runs its company.

While very unorthodox, Valve is also very successful. Having published knockout hits like Half-Life and Portal, as well as the undisputed publishing platform called Steam.

But how does a flat organisation decide what to do next? How do employee careers grow without a hierarchy to climb? And how do new products meet expectations?

Turns out every staff member is responsible not just for their share, but the entire project. There’s no handing off work to your colleague and punching out early. You must follow through or risk being berated by your co-workers.

What’s more, without managers to gauge staff success, salaries are entirely peer driven.

As for choosing a direction, projects are started based on potential. If no one bats an eye at your project proposal, you have no choice but to return to the drawing board. Only the best idea wins.

How does the non-leadership model work?

Because above all else, Valve values hiring the most. The company considers hiring more important than breathing. And so only the elite get a seat in the Valve democracy.

Without a boss cracking the whip, you must be driven by doing work that matters.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach