Inside the New Boss-Free World of Zappos

Join a circle!
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2015 2:14 PM CDT
Inside the New Boss-Free World of Zappos
A stock photo of Ugg boots, possibly purchased from Zappos.   (Shutterstock)

Earlier this month brought the news that 14% of the Zappos workforce—210 employees—was exiting the company rather than taking part in the manager-free "Holacracy" system being adopted by Zappos. The Wall Street Journal takes a look at the initial new landscape; the full shift is expected to take as long as five years. Five stand-out details:

  • The new lingo: Workers can join one of 300 "circles" (ie, work teams) run by a "lead link" (sort of a project manager) where they focus on a specific kind of work (ie, customer service) and might air "tensions" (ie, work problems) or discuss how they're "energizing a role" (that being what one's job is now called).

  • The new lingo, part II: Can you translate yet? The Journal has this jargony line (and an interpretation) from John Bunch, who's heading the shift to Holacracy. "The idea is for each person to selfishly process their own tension. The reaction round is a sacred space."
  • One specific experience: In the title-less world, Brironni Alex, 26, is no longer a customer-service manager, but now has "more time for a workplace diversity committee and to perform on the Zappos dance team," per the Journal.
  • How meetings have changed: At their end, employees can air their thoughts. A 24-year-old employee says she hears things like "I can't wait to eat my leftover pizza for lunch."
  • One specific circle: The Journal highlights one called "Reinventing Yourself," which former managers are encouraged to join as part of their quest to figure out what they should do in the company now that they can't manage.
Full Journal article has more great details. (Read more Zappos stories.)

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