2019 was a year with big changes in my life. My girlfriend and I married and we moved from a village to Berlin. At the same time I finished my studies in mathematics, so I was facing the challenge to switch from university to work and to do my first steps as a professional. After sending out applications for many jobs (and receiving many negative responses), ironically I was getting the most remarkable of them.
Since then I am part of Resourceful Humans, a startup that has a real DeLorean in its office (which is of course called ‘The Garage’) and that was playing a virtual reality game with me at my hiring day. But the really important difference to other companies is, that we are structured as a network organization. This means that we have no hierarchies and everyone is free in decision-making.
„A network organization is a group of people united by the same goals. They are self-organised without any artificial hierarchy and free in how they achieve their goals.“
In this text I want to share the experience of my first six months in the company and show you why a hierarchy-free company is a good place for junior professionals (and everyone else).
Reason 1: The crew is responsible, so they will take care of your onboarding.
My biggest fear starting my first job was to get lost in this big new world of the company. But right from the first day I had a whole team that was taking time for me. They helped me to set up all the tech, introduced me into the company culture and were always helpful when I had questions. I might have been lucky with my team (definitely!) but there is a deeper underlying reason, which I understand now. The crew was feeling responsible for my success in the company.
In a network organization there is no boss to blame if something goes wrong. The responsibility is in the hands of the team. They were the ones who made the decision to hire me. They want to do everything necessary to make it a good decision. Meanwhile I was involved in hiring new teammates and also took over parts in their onboarding. I could experience the feeling by myself, to have a strong wish, that they succeed.
Reason 2: You can do what you are good at
In my first weeks I spent my time finding out, to which existing projects I could contribute and planned my first new projects. I was completely free in choosing my projects, what I appreciate very much as a luxury that other junior professionals in hierarchical companies don’t have.
Now I am working on this really fun AI project that will improve the quality of our product significantly. It is a great project to improve my skills with neural networks, which is my big passion in the field of data science.
As long as the project has a good impact, is feasible with your abilities and you feel that you are passionate about it, you can start it.
Reason 3: Start learning to be a leader
You are not born as a leader. You learn leadership by experience. If you just follow the orders of your boss, then you won’t make these valuable experiences. In a network organization the boss-employee-relation is displaced by a leader-leader-relation, where everyone is encouraged to take over responsibility and decision making.
To be honest, I was worried about being responsible when I started my job. I was not used to it, since I was only responsible for myself at the university. But I quickly started to feel much more comfortable in my role. After a half year I am still at the beginning of my leadership-learning-curve but have made a huge progress in so many areas: Making strategic decision, self-organisation, motivating teammates, communicating efficiently, dealing with mistakes and many more.
By spending time in a network organisation your mindsets will shift from the question ‘what do I have to do?‘ to the question ‘what is the best impact, that I can have?’
Reason 4: Discover your hidden talents
In a network organization you are not limited to the working fields from your job description. You are free to participate in every project where you can contribute something meaningful. This opens up a wide range of opportunities for your personal development. Like this I could be part of the sales team or create content for the website. Because of that, I discovered my passion for writing.
Switching into other roles helps you to better understand your teammates. Furthermore it teaches you a holistic understanding of the whole company. And who knows… maybe you will find an unexpected new path for your career. One teammate switched his focus from consulting to product management and is much more enjoying this work.
Working in a network organization can be very demanding at the beginning. But it is the best organisational structure to learn quickly and to work in an environment, where your see the impact and value of your work.