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

Too many roles or too few for one person to manage

Hi folks.  Am interested in how other people are managing a situation of how the number of roles is managed and controlled, for both feasibility and legality please.

There are two potential scenarios:

1, When someone is under-deployed because in effect they do not have enough roles to fill their time. I understand a Lead can allocate a role to them, but what if realistically they can't perform that role because they are not interested or lack the expertise? From an employment legislation point of view, are you starting to change their contract of employment and rights, or even make them redundant, because there aren't enough suitable roles available?

2. And the other scenario is the opposite, when someone has more roles than they can feasibly manage.  I guess this can be raised as a tension and provide the evidence to find more resource to fill a role.  But what if they say they can manage it, and want the extra compensation to go with, but legally it is not good practice from a wellbeing point of view to ask someone to take on so much responsibility?

 

Do companies talk about Full Time Equivalents in roles?

Do people have a system for calculating / monitoring how utilised Partners are?

How have people married up employment legislation (contracts of employment) with Partner's flexing role accountabilities?

 

Many thanks

Julia

15 Replies
DeAngelo
04/13/2016

Great questions. I wish we were at a point past all those questions so that I could give you concrete answers. 

The only thing I can add is that we are stealing a page from another company practicing Holacracy and intend to identify fractional FTEs to roles. The tension that we're trying to address is budgetary, aligning funding sources to activities, and ensuring that role of lesser value or importance don't have more attention than roles of greater value/need/importance. For example: role A is only budgeted for 0.10 FTE and role B is budgeted for 2.5 FTE. People would then have a role and FTE equivalence calculation. We're prototyping this in excel at the moment but still a bit a way from having a running system that I can smile about.

Hopefully this concept helps give you ideas.

Tyler Danke
04/13/2016

HolacracyOne has a system called Attention Point System. https://glassfrog.holacracy.org/policies/3628 

My organization Purely Poultry basically copied the Attention Point system. In our policy instead of 100 Attention Points equals a "full-focus partner" we say that 40 "Role Hours" equals a "full focus partner". We have a team member who works 15 hours a week. She has 5 roles. One role is allocated 1 role hour, another 5, another 3, another 2 and another role 2.  We use a google sheet where these role hours are allocated.

Tyler Danke
04/13/2016

I do believe that employment law in the UK versus United States are significantly different so I am not able to comment about legality in the UK.

Sometimes unfortunately we do have to assign roles to people who are not interested or who do not have the expertise. If we did not assign roles to people who were not interested or have the expertise my organization would have 1) never started and 2) would not be able to continue to operate. We did adopt a "Required Role" policy that basically states that if you were hired to be a Customer Service Representative or other role 1) the lead link can't remove that role from you easily and 2) you can't just easily say no I don't want to be a Customer Service Rep any more.

Purely Poultrys 1.15. Required Role Policy
The roles that a Team Member was hired to fill at initial employment when they joined the Purely Poultry team is henceforward called a “Required Role”.
If a Team Member resigns from a Required Role, that resignation constitutes voluntary resignation from all roles currently filled. This means that Team Member is offering a voluntary termination from Purely Poultry in general.
Required Roles can be removed only if a majority of Team Diplomats vote in favor of removing a required role from a team member,
Whoever has the authority to assigning, removing, or re-assigning Roles to other Team Members, cannot remove a Team Member from their Required Role.
Whoever has the authority to fire any Team Member, retains the authority to fire any Team Member.

We do not compensate based on how many full time equivalents or Role Hours a person is filling. We compensate based on a per hour basis. 

Florent
06/29/2016

This is very interesting, but how do you solve/reject the "i don't have the time to do this" objection ?

Let's take the example of a governance meeting where extending an accountability on a Required Role is necessary to solve a tension; while everyone around the table agrees that the accountability is to be added for the sake of the organization/circle, on which basis can you "prove" that the accountability must be done by a specific role, when the person filling the role is unwilling to comply ?

Of course, in this hypothetical case, finding a new role-filler is not an option (budget-wise) and nobody volunteers.

Tyler Danke
06/29/2016

It would be impossible to prove that an accountability must be done by a specific role. Accountabilities could always be done by a new or different role. We have Required Roles but we do not have the ability to dictate what accountabilities the roles have outside of proposing valid governance tensions or valid governance objections. To find a new role filler does not have to mean that you have to add staff. A role can be filled by 30 seconds a week if the role filler deems that 30 seconds is enough to fill the accountabilities to their satisfaction. If no role fillers volunteer and all partners reject the assignment of the role then the role would be filled by the Lead Link because "The Lead Link also holds all un-delegated Circle-level Domains and Accountabilities."

Florent
06/29/2016

Does this mean that a Required Role filler has a de facto "veto" right to refuse a new or modified accountability, even if the Role description is the most obviously suitable Purpose for the added accountability ?

Let me give more background. We have a Production circle, in which there is a Stock Manager role (which buys stuff from suppliers) and a Machine Builder role, which uses stuff from the Stock to build products. That worked so far, but then we began using a software product, which requires a serial key to be provisioned from the software supplier. The Machine Builder role needed a serial key and wasn't sure who to ask it from, and while an informal process was currently in place, a discussion occured on who was supposed to provide that serial key (and hence provisioning it). Our intuition would be to solve the tension "There is no existing process to provision a serial key" by extending the "Stock Manager" role accountability "Provision hardware components from suppliers" to "Provision hardware and software from suppliers". However, the "Stock Manager" objected that it was software, not hardware, and that he had no time to process that new item on top of all other accountabilities he also had.

How would you takle that use case ?

Flavio Souza Ratzke
07/12/2016
Florent posted:

This is very interesting, but how do you solve/reject the "i don't have the time to do this" objection ?

Let's take the example of a governance meeting where extending an accountability on a Required Role is necessary to solve a tension; while everyone around the table agrees that the accountability is to be added for the sake of the organization/circle, on which basis can you "prove" that the accountability must be done by a specific role, when the person filling the role is unwilling to comply ?

Of course, in this hypothetical case, finding a new role-filler is not an option (budget-wise) and nobody volunteers.

Florent, the "I don´t have time" objection is not a valid objection in a governance meeting, because in a governance meeting you are only setting expectations on a role. How the role will fulfill this expectation is up to him. He can invest 10 minutes or 5 hours in the role, he can open a circle and define a role to do this, he can outsource, etc etc.

Florent
07/13/2016

Thanks Flavio, it does make a lot of sense. 

I do agree, but in practice, let's say this is a really tedious task that no one really wants to achieve, and that has no way around it (no clever shortcut) -- something as simple as sorting mail for instance (imagine a company having lots of mail).

In that case, The Role filler believes he needs to outsource it, and creates a circle "Mail", in which he would like to create a few roles to split the task ; he calls for help, but no-one comes. What then ? He follows the Strategy to split his attention between the most important tasks and this new tedious task that is nevertheless necessary ? He raises a new tension the next governance meeting stating that this accountability should be associated to another Role (and another Role filler) otherwise the Company would suffer from his lack of resources to continue his previous accountabilities ?

Anybody having stories to share about "chores" and unwanted roles ? Rotating "chores" roles/circles ?

I see 2 big possibilities: retribution (e.g. a demand/offer system that rewards unwanted tasks more than wanted tasks, either financiary or as a worktime reduction bonus for instance...), or organized rotation. Any other ?

I'm really looking for practical examples here. This may sound stupid, but in small companies such as mine, we don't have dedicated people to handle stuff like manual/practical work (e.g. fix light bulbs, getting trash out, ...). And these still are needed ! In your Holacracy-run companies, who does that ? Does that even appear in your circles ? Or is that the GCC LL doing it ?

Jeff Kreh
07/14/2016

Florent,

Great question. Likewise is a private, nonprofit college that serves the needs of indigent prison inmates. Our model requires a large number of volunteers who help faculty and staff handle the various emerging needs. So, our first line of defense against undesirable tasks remaining undone relies on the servant leader disposition of volunteers.

Likewise cultivates 4 volunteer channels (from Luke 10:25–37's "love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, strength, and mind"). The "strength" group invites "non-academic" talent contribution (e.g.-transcription services, since our students cannot access computers and must submit handwritten assignments). Faculty may volunteer to fulfill this need. When they do, they earn "development points" (from developing their volunteer/non-direct-compensation disposition). These development points increase the faculty members' next contract according to formula (up to doubling regular direct compensation). Likewise sets aside the development funds whether faculty determines to increase their value to the organization or not. Of course, if faculty members fail to handle the opportunity to their benefit; and volunteers fail to materialize; then the service falls within general staffing expenses — which keeps the saved funds from being applied into the general faculty support endowment (since staffing needs for the activity consume resources). We recognized the need for exact transcriptions during the prototyping of 'TR-1000: The Books of Luke' and placed the need into the existing budget process so that either "strengths" volunteers (or faculty acting as volunteers for future benefit) or staff might fulfill that need.

To summarize using this example, if faculty wants to voluntarily fulfill transcription needs, they thereby increase their future value to the organization while helping to control staffing expenses. Otherwise, other volunteers usually step in and handle the 'unwanted' activity. If an undesirable and essential activity falls through these cracks, then I raise the tension to the staff circle's governance meeting and we adjust (preferred) or create (last resort) a role and its compensation to cover the unfulfilled non-academic task. However, this is a last resort as it removes an opportunity for faculty development.

One final thought, if an activity is truly unnecessary, then why are we doing it? More likely, we need to show how the activity connects to the overall mission. Partners who value the mission ought to understand the value of every necessary activity and that their commitment to the mission naturally requires an interest in activities even as mundane as checking the mail. Can they imagine fulfilling the organization's mission without an awareness of whatever might be sitting in the mailbox!!??!! So, unless your example is purely hypothetical (and even if it is), an emphasis on connecting even the most mundane acts to the mission needs to happen--and regularly. If it's work that's essential to the organization's purpose, then figure out how to elevate the work's importance. If no one in the organization values the service that the work does to the organization, maybe it's time to hire someone who will value the organization through the work...

Flavio Souza Ratzke
07/14/2016

Hello Florent,

I see your point, and I do understand that in every company there´s a lot of unwanted work that has to be done. But the fact is that Holacracy won´t eliminate this unwanted work, it is just an operating system that helps you to deal with it.

By default, the Lead Link role has the authority to assign partners for the roles. So, if the Lead Link assigned someone, the Partner has the duty to process the Role, whether the Partner liked the Role or not. It´s his job. The Lead Link has the freedom to assign and unassign roles anytime, so you can choose to put a Partner rotation on this Role.

Florent
07/18/2016
Flavio Souza Ratzke posted:

By default, the Lead Link role has the authority to assign partners for the roles. So, if the Lead Link assigned someone, the Partner has the duty to process the Role, whether the Partner liked the Role or not. It´s his job. The Lead Link has the freedom to assign and unassign roles anytime, so you can choose to put a Partner rotation on this Role.

Sure, but the constitution also states ("2.4.3 Resignation from Roles") : "When you fill a Role, you may resign from the Role at any time, unless you’ve agreed otherwise, by giving notice to whoever controls assignments to that Role – typically, the Circle’s Lead Link."

Yes, the LL can assign someone to a role, but since the role filler can resign anytime, this can lead to an "infinite loop" of assignment/resignation. Isn't that conflicting ?

Florent
07/18/2016
Jeffrey D. Kreh posted:

Faculty may volunteer to fulfill this need. When they do, they earn "development points" (from developing their volunteer/non-direct-compensation disposition). These development points increase the faculty members' next contract according to formula (up to doubling regular direct compensation).

Thanks Jeffrey, this is really an interesting approach ! 

Karilen Mays
08/15/2016

I will add that an agreement that states what type of work an individual will do may be necessary... someone needs to take out the trash; so you may bring someone on for specific work such as administrative work, logistics, or software development for example.

You can build this into a person's core agreement (like an employment contract), and then they would have to take on those roles when asked to fulfill their commitment to the organization. 

Some of what has already been shared relates to processing these tensions using Holacracy itself; try the Governance process to see what you can come up with in your organization to address the tension, like some members others have done.

(In our organization we have a process for providing other roles that fill roles when no one wants them, not only lead link to distribute that issue, and a process for prioritizing our attention across all our roles like the Attention Points Tyler is describing.)

Jeff Kreh
08/16/2016

@Karilen, somewhere I. The leadership literature from the past 25 years is a story re. a cleaning lady who scolded the company president for walking past an easy to address mess. The president was not offended since the corporate culture held that anyone and everyone held responsibility for the image and safety of the organization. Thus, "taking out the trash" did not need to be assigned to any single person since everyone naturally held that accountability. Is this along the lines of what you're sensing?

Flavio Souza Ratzke
08/24/2016
Florent posted:
Flavio Souza Ratzke posted:

By default, the Lead Link role has the authority to assign partners for the roles. So, if the Lead Link assigned someone, the Partner has the duty to process the Role, whether the Partner liked the Role or not. It´s his job. The Lead Link has the freedom to assign and unassign roles anytime, so you can choose to put a Partner rotation on this Role.

Sure, but the constitution also states ("2.4.3 Resignation from Roles") : "When you fill a Role, you may resign from the Role at any time, unless you’ve agreed otherwise, by giving notice to whoever controls assignments to that Role – typically, the Circle’s Lead Link."

Yes, the LL can assign someone to a role, but since the role filler can resign anytime, this can lead to an "infinite loop" of assignment/resignation. Isn't that conflicting ?

Florent, excellent comment. I personally understand that this 2.4.3 only works in a perfect Holacracy system, or at least in a company where Holacracy is already mature. In which our company is not there yet.

So, we just vetoed this clause, and made clear that we would be doing all efforts to put the right souls in the right Roles, and that the souls have an open communication to say that they would like to be switched.