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  • Hello. This is 6 Minute English from

  • BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

  • And I'm Georgina.

  • After working together at BBC Learning

  • English for many years, Georgina,

  • you and I have a

  • good working relationship, don't we?

  • Sure, I think we make a great team!

  • But have you ever had a boss who

  • you just couldn't work with?

  • Oh, you mean a bad boss - someone

  • you just can't get on with no matter

  • how hard you try.

  • Yes, I've had one or two over the

  • years - not you of course, Neil!

  • I'm glad to hear it, Georgina! Often this

  • happens because workers feel

  • they aren't listened

  • to by managers. Or it might be because

  • most companies are hierarchies -

  • systems of organising

  • people according to their

  • level of importance.

  • Managers on top, workers down below.

  • But in this programme we hear from

  • companies who've got rid of

  • managers and say it has

  • helped them do a better job, made them

  • happier and saved money.

  • We'll meet a self-managing company

  • which isn't hierarchical and has

  • no boss. And of course

  • we'll be learning some new

  • vocabulary along the way.

  • But first, today's quiz question.

  • One of the biggest problems in

  • hierarchies is the excess

  • cost of management and bureaucracy.

  • But how much is that estimated

  • to cost the US economy

  • every year? Is it:

  • a) 3 million dollars?, b) 3 billion dollars?,

  • or c) 3 trillion dollars?

  • I'll say c) 3 trillion dollars - that's one

  • followed by twelve zeros - a lot of money!

  • OK, Georgina, we'll find out later if you're

  • right. Now, one of the first companies to

  • experiment successfully with

  • self-management was Californian

  • tomato grower Morning Star.

  • Here's one of their employees,

  • Doug Kirkpatrick, talking to Dina Newman

  • for the BBC World Service

  • programme, People Fixing the World:

  • The first principle was that human beings

  • should not use force or

  • coercion against other

  • human beings. And the second

  • principle was that people should

  • keep the commitments they

  • make to each other and so we adopted

  • them as pretty much the entire

  • governance of the

  • enterprise.

  • Because Morning Star has no bosses,

  • decisions are made by all employees

  • equally without

  • coercion - the use of force to persuade

  • someone to do something

  • they do not want to do.

  • As self-managers, employees can't tell

  • other employees what to do.

  • Everything is based

  • on requesting someone to act

  • and them responding.

  • This motivates and empowers workers

  • but also means they must keep their

  • commitments - promises

  • or firm decisions to do

  • something when requested.

  • This way of working is great for some -

  • they feel listened to and have

  • a voice in how the

  • company is run.

  • But Dina questions whether this is true for

  • everybody working at Morning Star:

  • Would it be true to say that a

  • self-managed company like yours

  • empowers people who are

  • already very good and it leaves behind

  • those who are not so good?

  • I'm not sure I accept the phrase 'left

  • behind'. There are some people

  • who take full advantage

  • of this environment; others take less

  • advantage but they do benefit

  • because their voice is

  • respected, when they do propose

  • something it must be listened to,

  • they are not subject

  • to force and coercion and if they don't act

  • according to their commitments

  • they can be

  • held accountable by anyone.

  • Having no bosses sounds great, but the

  • extra responsibility can create

  • more work and stress.

  • Different workers respond to this in

  • different ways and some employees

  • may be left behind

  • - remain at a lower level than others

  • because they are not as quick to develop.

  • However other workers enjoy managing

  • themselves and take full advantage

  • of the system - make

  • good use of the opportunity to improve

  • and achieve their goals.

  • No matter whether employees are good

  • self-managers or not, ultimately

  • they are held accountable

  • for their work performance - asked to

  • accept responsibility for the

  • consequences of their

  • actions.

  • So, although having no boss sounds

  • good, if things go wrong, there's

  • no-one to blame but

  • yourself!

  • So maybe we do need those managers

  • after all - which reminds me of our

  • quiz question.

  • You asked me to estimate how much the

  • US economy loses in excess

  • bureaucracy and managerial

  • costs every year.

  • And you said?

  • c) 3 trillion dollars.

  • Which was absolutely right! Well done!

  • And the cost keeps rising because,

  • of course, the more managers there are,

  • the more managers

  • you need to manage the managers!

  • Today we've been looking at the world

  • of self-management - companies run

  • without bosses, which, unlike

  • most businesses, are not based on

  • a hierarchy - system of organising

  • people according to

  • their level of importance.

  • Instead companies like San Francisco's

  • Morning Star allow employees to make

  • their own commitments

  • - promises to act, rather than using

  • coercion - or forceful persuasion -

  • to get results.

  • Many employees react positively to this

  • working environment and take full

  • advantage of it

  • - make good use of the opportunity

  • to progress or achieve their goals.

  • However, there is a risk that others who

  • are more comfortable being

  • managed may get left

  • behind - remain at a lower level than

  • others because they are not as

  • quick to improve and

  • adapt.

  • But whatever their job role or feelings

  • about self-management, all workers

  • are held accountable

  • - asked to accept responsibility for their

  • performance at work.

  • Meaning they take can the credit

  • for when things go well -

  • but have nobody to hide behind

  • when things go badly!

  • That's all from us today, but remember

  • to join us again soon for

  • more topical discussion

  • and related vocabulary here at 6 Minute

  • English from BBC Learning English.

  • Bye for now.

  • Bye.

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No more bosses - 6 Minute English

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    Jack posted on 2020/08/14
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