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What to do when the team is not interested in improving


I've got a client, who is interested in Holacracy because he feels that it can improve his team's performance. The problem is the team doesn't seem to want to improve. At least, when he tried to facilitate a kind of a retrospective to surface problems and talk about possible improvements, they ended up declaring that they have no problems, team is doing good enough, and there's no need for improvement.

This team is budgeted by the government, and I don't think anybody in this organisation feels market pressure or something. In fact all they do is preparing documents to allocate budgets for certain needs on their customers request. Everybody on that team have been doing it for years, and they are not the kind of people who is interested in self development or professional growth.

Can anyone suggest how to approach it? Do you think it worths trying to play simulation with them, or do you think it will only cause frustration? Are there any other possible ways we can engage people in the process improvements?

6 Replies
Bernard Marie Chiquet

Hey Alexey,

My take on this is that I would not try to sell Holacracy to anybody - won't work or it would take so much energy on your side. Question for you : is the power holder(s) interested enough by Holacracy so that you can sell an interactive 2 hours conference or a 2 Days Discovery Session. If you cant' sell anything, don't waste your time, they are not ready and teachable enough to transform themselves. We don't need every org. adopting Holacracy. There are enough pionneers end early adopters as far as I can see the market, which is growing quite fast by the way. Leave the status quo, find early adopters.

Hope this helps

Bernard Marie

Alexey Ilyichev

Thanks for reply!

In this case, selling is not the problem. Power holders want to try. But they have a very specific need — that is to engage employees in process improvement. And I'm afraid, Holacracy itself won't solve it for them.

Bernard Marie Chiquet

That's interesting... If I were you I would sell a 2 days Discovery Session with the management team in order to play with the inertia and push back - This is one of my favorite game

Let me know if I can help!

Evgeny Parfenov

Holacracy is a tool of transparency in authority. As I see it people in government structures rarely long for clear authority, as it comes with much risk and no benifits...

I suppose it would work only if the team is interested specifically in the desired by client outcome, i.e. performance improvement. If not, they might like it as a game, or use to redistribute power, or even raise pressure on their superior, not as a tool of taking some personal authority. If your client could sell the outcome to them (for example, reducing numer of team members but keeping total team salary redistributed between the rest of them, if total performance remains the same... =), then they could find benifits in such instruments of self-management.

Bernard Marie Chiquet

"I suppose it would work only if the team is interested specifically in the desired by client outcome, i.e. performance improvement"

That's a way of mental thinking. Another way is to deeply understand what's the Purpose of the Org., why are we paid for (i.e. for serving the manifestation of the purpose) and in my experience, this changes everything even in the public sector, we have 2 clients in this area right now.



Maybe if finding out the root cause why employees are not motivated in performance improvement will be useful. For example: How do they see the growth affecting them? Is there an overlap of personal values of the employees and organisational values?