Last fall, in response to smaller jobs and a slimmer staff, our company consciously decided to adopt a philosophy of peer-to-peer management and accountability. Our biggest goal for 2010 is to strengthen our awareness of how we are all using our time, so we can be more organized and do more with less.

I have given all field staff permission to hold themselves and their peers accountable, and to no longer rely on “the company” or “the bosses” for discipline and solutions. Everyone has been asked to:

  • Assume responsibility for one another. When we launched this policy, I said, “Look at the guy next to you. He is going to take care of you during tough times, and you’re going to take care of him.”
  • Call out peers on the spot for being late, sloppy, or disrespectful. Don’t wait for management to deal with problems.
  • Should problems persist, voice concerns and name names during production meetings. Discuss issues honestly and publicly.

Yes, peer-to-peer management can take some getting used to, but that’s part of progress. We take the approach of the “one-minute manager”: There might be brief discomfort, and then we move on.

courtesy Mark IV Builders

Already, we’re seeing positive change. Some of our younger staff, for instance, are really pushing older guys’ buttons about some habits they’d gotten used to. And a few employees are just flying: tweaking and developing systems and programs that work better than the old ones.

We wonder, in fact, if the more top-down system had been holding some of our brightest stars back. Not any more.

—Andy Hannan is production manager of Mark IV Builders, in Bethesda, Md.