Zappos Does Away With Job Titles, Managers

Retailer turns to 'holacratic' model

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 30, 2013 11:09 AM CST | Updated Jan 4, 2014 6:59 AM CST

(Newser) – Online retailer Zappos is making a dramatic change to its company hierarchy—in fact, it's getting rid of it. CEO Tony Hsieh explained to employees last month that the company was ditching job titles and management positions in favor of a system known as "Holacracy." The term, which comes from the Greek "holon," meaning a whole inside something bigger, is about "self-governing." It works by dividing the company into some 400 circles; inside a circle, a worker can have multiple jobs, Quartz reports.

The system is "not leaderless," says a Zappos worker guiding the shift. "There are certainly people who hold a bigger scope of purpose for the organization than others. What it does do is distribute leadership into each role." With 1,500 employees, Zappos will be the biggest company to use the model, but other firms have already picked up on it—including, for instance, Medium, a publishing platform led by Twitter co-founder Ev Williams. A leader at Medium notes, however, that Holacracy has its downsides. "It’s not a very human-centric model for things," he says. For a junior figure, "it can be difficult to ask for feedback or mentorship, especially when you’re new."

A screen shot from a YouTube look inside Zappos.
A screen shot from a YouTube look inside Zappos.   (YouTube/Zappos.com)
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