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

Self-manegement through dictatorship

Hi everyone!

This is a question and opinion to discuss. In our team we have strong theory that there is no another way to become self-menage in organizations where every employee get used to always follow directions of the bosses. And this way is use dictatorship methods to instill new habits. This methods should change behaviour first. And when everyone got used to do special rituals, follow new rules and the New Code of Conduct, then bosses will ready to think about changing mindset of people to self-management/holacratic direction.

Only through this hard and strict measures they can made their people mature for the next level.
What do you think about it? Aspecially this question addressed to practiotioners who has big operational departments (more than 200 employees) with a lot of routine job.

2 Replies
Fritz von Allmen

After starting Holacracy we experienced such patterns (often from persons that where in line management before). We called it "bossing" and even had a wikipage to document such "unhealthy behaviour" and talk about it.

I think this is a vital point [@mention:590444325765688151] to have a good holacracy practice. Employees need to evolve! They need to stand up against such patterns and become brave (you need courage to tell the former CEO that you will not comply with his "request" just because he told you to do so).

On the other hand former line management needs to develop too. They were hired to lead people and tell them what to do. I think former line manager are extremly valuable because they often are skilled leaders, but they have to rethink their habits and lead different.

One more thought: I'm quite convinced that there are "domains" where selforganization does not work well. This might be cultural (not seeing a Japanese company successful with Holacracy since employees are soooo obedient to their line managers), businesses that attract primarely extrinsic motivated employees or people that just want to be guided (think of governmental "bureaucrats).

Great topic [@mention:590444325765688151], looking forward for other opinions / experiences in real life.

Rachel Hunt

Getting people to self manage is always a challenge unless they are naturally that way.
In my small business (8 years traditional, 1 year Holacracy)  I too have struggled with the temptation to "force" my people to practice specific habits compatible with self management. I'm the founder and lead link of our single circle organization. I end up doing most of the work anyway and getting part time staff members to see themselves as partners has been a frustrating process.
But in the end, I think the best way to engender the required internal sense of responsibility is to simply refuse to do their jobs for them. When they come to me for permission or guidance on a project that is their responsibility, I remind them that it is theirs.
I also sometimes allow my frustration to show. When I feel that they are trolling for reassurance from "the boss" or failing to properly plan and organize their projects, I let them know that Holacracy gives them the authority to make decisions in order to save ME time. I NEED them to take the responsibility they were given and to stop checking in with me for every tiny thing. I have my own work to do, after all.
I also let them know if I feel that their personal productivity system needs improvement. I reiterate the desired outcome and offer to coach them on their system if they need it, but I only insist on compliance in areas that interface with the rest of the staff. For instance, if a person has trouble being on time, I will remind them that timeliness is part of their job and ask if they need help with that. I insist that official In-boxes be regularly cleaned out; and if I notice that they tend to use their In-Box for storage, I will offer to provide other storage solutions for them. I insist that they keep their schedules available through our shared google calendar, but I do not micro-manage which hours they choose to be available to work. 
I also try hard to make the tactical meetings a safe space for anyone to broach any tension and to use the system to solve problems that otherwise would be left unsolved. 
I hope that helps a little. I'm sure it's different with a larger organization.