Can you imagine if your workplace didn’t have managers or bosses, only colleagues? That’s how Chris Rufer’s company works, and it’s the global leader in tomato processing. The Morning Star Company supplies 40% of the U.S. industrial tomato paste and diced tomato product. It employs 600 employees and thousands of seasonal workers, making nearly $1 billion annually. Morning Star isn’t doing half bad, so could this management style be the key factor to its success? Rufer joined Follow the Profit podcast with David Grasso to discuss throwing corporate hierarchy out the window.
A natural hierarchy
Many times, large companies place their trust in the system; the corporate hierarchy creates a chain of command that employees should follow exactly. But Rufer says his company employs a naturally occurring, circumstantial and dynamic hierarchy. There are many different issues in a large company, whether in sales, finance, manufacturing, technology or engineering. So, Rufer sees these situations as opportunities for different people to take the lead. For example, we see leaders naturally arise on baseball teams, but does that mean the same person would be a leader in a chess match?
Freedom to move around
Not everybody recognizes it themselves, but if they’re given some freedom to move around, they’ll find their core competency … So, people have all kinds of capabilities. And if they’re allowed to – if you allow the organization to flow and be flexible – then people will have more decision capability. And maybe it’s a 10% or 20% modification of what you thought their contribution would be going into the situation … If people are happier by 30%, that’s a big win.Chris Rufer, Founder of The Morning Star Company
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