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Give It Away

Are you still making all the business decisions? Stop-and share them with your employees.

Lois Melbourne didn't hire her new salesperson-her salespeople did. When TimeVision Inc. of Irving, Texas, needed to add to its 20-person sales staff, the 33-year-old CEO decided to assign her two existing salespeople to the job. They created the job specification, posted it on an online job bank, reviewed resumes, held interviews and made the final recommendation. A manager didn't get involved until the salary negotiation. In fact, Melbourne never even laid eyes on the new hire until her first day of work.

Melbourne's hiring hand-off is a perfect example of bottom-up management. This highly empowered style of running a business gives the responsibility for making significant decisions to people who would otherwise wield little influence in a business. Employees are better motivated and their skills are more fully utilized at bottom-up firms, experts say. Companies such as General Electric and Southwest Airlines are among well-known corporations that have championed the bottom-up style.

Melbourne was a veteran of large corporations before founding Time-Vision, a business that offers Web-based organizational charting, in 1994. Today, she's a firm believer that bottom-up is the way to go. "It's still a little early, but I have complete faith," she says of her sales team's recent hiring decision. "And, having met the woman, I think they did a fantastic job."

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This article was originally published in the May 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Give It Away.

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