I have recently joined a small (around 25 staff) consultancy company. Two partners run the company, but beneath them there is a lack of formal hierarchy and no job titles.

There are no managers, but rather 'mentors'.

A mentor provides support and guidance for each mentee, and does not supervise or direct them in their daily work (they often work in different areas). Mentors are responsible for only two mentees each. This looks like a traditional understanding of a mentor.

However, the 'mentor' carries out the reviews (every 6 months) of the mentee, and they are also responsible for their staff development. So the mentor has some managerial functions as well.

[b]Can such a hybrid of mentoring and managing work?[/b]

I've been asked to look at the issue of personnel management. The need for some change is recognised, but the partners do not want to create more hierarchy (or delegate more power!). There are no O3s or coaching, and (in my opinion) this is causing problems.

How I can suggest restructuring without moving to a pyramid management system?

juliahhavener's picture
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It can work. My previous position was a lead position in which I was responsible for many aspects of performance. I acted as a coach and a leader and the experience directly translated into my current (management) position.

Mark's picture
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Sure, it can work. it's MUCH harder than a traditional system, and since traditional systems don't often work well, it's VERY hard to do well.

I think this is a nomenclature issue. If you write someone's review, their emotional state about you makes you their manager. Don't kid yourself. Start doing on on ones and feedback and coaching. All of these work in your situation.

You don't need any hierarchy for personnel management. You need mentors to be given the additional responsibilities...and pretty soon, they really WILL be mentors in name (poorly named, I might add) only.


psylophone's picture

Thanks Mark and Julia for your replies, which are very encouraging!

Since my first post I've now been asked to take over responsiblility for internal organisation, including personnel (notably making our 'mentor' system work).

I have accepted, but want to ask that I should be given responsibility for carrying out performance reviews of all staff (except for the senior management), as I feel this will give me the authority to actually manage.

I started writing a short paper trying to explain why I think this would be necessary - and then logged on and read Mark's comment,

[i]If you write someone's review, their emotional state about you makes you their manager. [/i]

Perfect: this has helped me to crystallise exactly what I wanted to say in my paper!

thanks very much