Holacracy Community of Practice Archive, 2015-2019 Community Holacracy Web Site

Not following the rules

I realize that policies can be enacted for those situations where partners don't following the rules.  I am curious what kind of policies you all have in place.

5 Replies
Stephan Jenner

We have specific policies around serious misconduct and dismissal as per our local HR laws these spell out the process of breaching the rules and the subsequent actions/projects that are then initiated and can ultimately lead to dismissal. Our Serious misconduct policy is in alignment with Australian HR Law. This is supplemented with a staff warning policy. An Example is :


A                Why serious misconduct is so serious
If we reasonably believe that a partner is guilty of serious misconduct, then they will be dismissed without notice or pay in lieu of notice.
A                Conduct that will usually be regarded as serious misconduct
Serious misconduct includes 

*             theft or other dishonesty;

*             any act or omission for which a partner is charged with, or convicted of, a criminal offence - other than a minor road traffic offence;

*             repeated or serious acts of negligence in performing duties of employment;

*             insulting or using objectionable or offensive language to colleagues, to clients, or to other third parties;

*             serious or persistent breaches of the partners employment contract and or of the organisations Holacracy constitution and encompassing governance rules;

*             failure to obey any reasonable and lawful instruction regarding performance of the partners employment duties;

*             unauthorised absence from duty;

*             gross insubordination;

*             careless or deliberate damage to the organisations property;

*             careless or deliberate breaking of any rule or regulation - whether statutory or the organisations - which is capable of injuring or endangering anybody, or of leaving the organisation open to prosecution or censure;

*             any conduct - whether at or outside work - which in our reasonable view may jeopardise the organisations good reputation or the success of our organisation;

*             serious breach of any of our rules, regulations or procedures - for example, those relating to Holacracy, occupational health and safety, privacy, equal opportunity, or non-compliance with the requirements of any license we hold;

*             assault, fighting, harassment on any grounds;

*             misusing the organisations property or information systems, associated data, copyright, software or the telecommunications network.  This includes (but is not limited to) sending offensive or inappropriate email or accessing, downloading, viewing or distributing offensive, unsuitable, obscene or pornographic web-pages or material from the Internet - or links to any of them - or accessing pornographic telephone services.  It can also include for example  accessing social networking websites in breach of our policies and rules; making unprofessional or inappropriate comments on that site about our organisation; etc.

*             being under the influence of alcohol or drugs at work.
This list is not exhaustive.  It only sets out examples of the types of behaviour that we consider to be serious misconduct.

Massimo Giliberti

Thanks for the post. Very helpful.  I will definitely be incorporating a rendition of it!


Just to get some clarity on where this policy would go in a holacracy context:

  • Would this be a policy on the board circle?
  • Would that mean that that policy then bleeds through to the sub-circles by default?
  • Because Policies are meant to impact a domain what would you consider the domain of this policy?

Stephan is the best to answer the specific questions you have. However, unless you are a completely new start up organisation you already have these things in place. Here's what the Holacracy constitution has to say: 

"Any existing policies and systems the Organisation has in effect before adopting this Constitution continue in full force after adoption, even if they include constraints or authorities that are not reflected in Governance records. This may include compensation systems, hiring and firing processes, work-related policies, etc.

However, these legacy policies and systems will lose all weight and authority as soon as Governance is defined that replaces or contradicts them. In addition, they may not be modified or added to in their legacy form. Anyone wishing to do so must first capture or otherwise empower the policy or system using the Governance Process defined in this Constitution"

So you don't need to reinvent the wheel, instead you should mindfully test each of your existing regulations for compliance with the letter and spirit of the Holacracy Constitution, then amend and adopt through the Governance process or as part of your initial implementation. 

Stephan Jenner

The policy is about the people employed within the organisation so it sits with the circle that has the domain of the interaction between the organisation and its partners/emloyees in the case I have included that's the partnership circle but of course placing it in the anchor circle means it cascades down into sub circles.


Richard is correct on the existing policies of the organisation I do recommend however exposing them into Glassfrog to ensure they are readily visible and there is clarity over what they effect and how.

Paul Codd

"Gross insubordination" makes me think of a person not accepting the orders of their superior, such as in a rigid hierarchy like the military. This frames a set of behaviours inside a way of thinking that is definitely not the kind of hierarchical model Holacracy seeks to embody. What I mean is, the wording around this is not congruent with a Holacracy adoption in my opinion.

Maybe instead of "insubordination" you could use words like "recalcitrant, disrespectful or excessively abrasive behaviour towards colleagues partners and collaborators." That's for the failure to be an adequately evolved human being.

You might also want to add some words around failure to comply with company policies and processes as agreed via the governance process. Although here there may need to be caveats around taking swift individual action where that is deemed necessary and there is not the time to seek approval from the correct role holder(s) or change the governance in time before taking the actions deemed in the benefit of the company. You can probably unpack this a little further too. Anyway, hope this helps.