At Nearsoft, the absence of managers and complete freedom create responsibility, not anarchy
Nearsoft in San Jose, California, is a fast-growing software development company with more than 350 developers in the U.S. and Mexico. Its co-founders are Roberto Martinez and Matt Perez, the latter of whom is the headliner of our recent online conference, as well as a future online intensive starting very soon on September 28.
Accountability without a manager
Nearsoft promotes self-management and runs its company without any managers. Everyone decides for themselves what needs to be done. Roberto says, “The lack of control is an illusion. But when you give people true freedom to make decisions, become leaders or solve problems, it makes them more responsible, not the other way around. Everyone at Nearsoft is completely free to do the important things.”
Nearsoft is one of the early adopters of the idea that the last 150 years of top-down management was a bad idea, and even worse in a technology-driven world in which participation and collaboration attract the best people.
In 2006, Nearsoft was built on two simple but profound premises: 1) everyone is an adult and should be treated as an adult, and 2) everyone wants to be responsible, not just those who are “responsible” for others. Julio Gonzalez, operations manager, says, “At Nearsoft, managers encourage everyone to ask questions rather than ask permission. Trusting their desire to be responsible adults is key to our success.”
More organized without a manager
Nearsoft has done a great job of realizing that the important things are almost always simple. There’s nothing complicated about the way they’ve built their company. But this lack of complexity is often mistaken for a lack of organization. Matt Perez emphasizes: “We have a management structure. The fact that our company is very flat and democratic actually means that we are MORE organized than the traditional management model. We have very clear processes for everything we do.”
Ownership of decision making
Clear roles and well-defined processes are common to self-managed companies in any industry. The difference is that instead of roles, responsibilities and processes imposed on them by top-down management and control structures, employees determine who will do what and how. The perfection of roles and processes by those who have to do them guarantees ownership of the outcome. Companies that are traditionally managed rely only on such “participation.”
Julio adds: “We even have people who get together and form leadership groups to discuss whatever topic they want and make decisions. Our whole profit sharing structure was changed from the bottom up because people took the initiative to meet and decide how to improve it. . We just made that process easier.”
Values really mean something
Nearsoft is guided by five core values: leadership, commitment, teamwork, long-term relationships, and the ability to deliver results. And they have two related principles: transparency and integrity. These are values that everyone at Nearsoft believes in. Most companies have similar lists, but Nearsoft makes all of its decisions based on whether they align with these five values. Very few companies, like Nearsoft, actually operate every day based on a list of values.
When there is no manager, fewer people quit
Like all self-managed companies, Nearsoft has an extremely low turnover rate. Matt says, “One guy stayed on as a manager at a traditional company and was unhappy. He came back because here, even though he’s not a manager (we don’t have managers), he has responsibility and authority. There he was just a senior management representative. Another woman came back because her employer made her ask permission to take her mother away from the doctor. “We all have adults here and don’t need permission to take care of their families.
Work from anywhere
Being an adult is all about deciding where to work. Sometimes it’s better to work from home and sometimes it’s better to come to the office to work together. No one controls this; teams make their own decisions according to Nearsoft’s “Work From Home” manifesto. Nearsoft reinforces this trust by giving everyone the opportunity to work from anywhere for up to a month twice a year.
Employee engagement is a persistent problem in most companies. Nearsoft promotes self-management as the key to solving this problem. And thousands of similar companies in all industries are quickly moving in that direction.
Give people back their brains
Nearsoft’s history is an important lesson for all companies. If you want to grow fast, increase profits, reduce middle management unproductivity, and retain the best and brightest people, you may want to give them back their brains and require everyone to become a self-managed adult at work.
Original article – Inc.com