In most traditional organizations, discussions often take place in a more formalized setting. One-on-ones, review sessions, team meetings, etc. These are usually led by managers in an effort to communicate any important news, changes that may be coming, project updates, or to discuss personal goals and achievements. Here at the Hive we certainly have optional one-on-ones with colleagues, as well as team meetings and project update discussions. The difference? Here at the Hive, we tend to take a more “open forum” approach to our group conversations and decision making— a bit of a shift from the traditional manager-team or manager-employee meeting format for a number of reasons:
  1. Attending any meeting is completely voluntary: In other words, we can’t force anyone to attend a meeting— whether it’s called by a co-owner, a company leader, or anyone else for that matter. The benefit of this is that colleagues have the option to attend meetings that they truly see value in. More, those who call the meetings get immediate feedback on what people are willing to spend their time listening to and attending.
  2. Leaders, not managers: With no management, there is definitely less fear of saying what one feels, expressing issues or concerns, etc. In a traditional structure, where meetings are often held by direct managers, it can be intimidating to voice one’s opinion or to point out perceived flaws in plans. After all, who wants to piss off the boss? By eliminating the hierarchy, we’ve found that it’s much easier for our colleagues to speak up and be vocal about what is and isn’t working.
Since the beginning, we knew that we wanted to make big decisions and solve major issues with this kind of democratic discussion/decision making. A couple of examples of times this has worked well for us: — When we switched our sales commitment from a specific number of IOs and demos to strictly revenue-based commitments each month. After a sales leader suggested this change at a sales meeting, colleagues were then able to voice any concerns, discuss, and decide to agree on or decline the change. — When we were deciding the level of transparency we wanted to take in regard to our salaries. Back in March, when we began really focusing on our marketing efforts, we had a decision to make. With transparency as one of of the key parts of our culture, we needed to decide exactly how transparent we wanted to be in regard to employee salaries. Although everyone internally knew what each colleague made, one proposal was to share exact dollar amounts associated with each employee and make that information public externally as well. In the end, after an open forum discussion and quite a bit of debate, we decided on the transparency level that we have today. In the end, the open forum approach has been advantageous. It’s allowed us to hear the opinions and concerns of all colleagues, and to quickly agree on changes in direction/solutions to problems. It’s even allowed us to learn from our colleagues in situations like trainings and role-plays, where opinions and differing approaches are always welcome. For us, avoiding the traditional and stuffy meeting format, where employees are talked to instead of with, has absolutely helped us to grow. By getting rid of the politics that naturally come along with strictly manager-led discussions (and decision making), we've allowed for each colleague to have a voice and more, to bring their own expertise and experience to the table.