What You Need to Know To Design Self-Management For Your Workplace

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As 2020 continues to unfold, businesses are coping with a myriad of changes. Many leaders have been thrust into crisis mode operationally while managing a newly remote workforce, often with heightened stress, burnout, and lack of office culture to drive engagement. Meanwhile, the workplace is rapidly adapting to new organizational priorities, with business, "as usual", a term of the past. How do you effectively manage a distributed team while responding to the demands of the future of work?


At DH, we have been addressing the challenges of remote teams and the need for businesses to be highly adaptable for years. Fundamental to this was our shift to self-management, to become a more responsive and empowered team in this emerging environment. Since then, we have consulted on these principles with organizations around the world. How do you know if your organization is ready for self-management? Here is a simple guide. 


Self-managed organizations are first and foremost purpose-driven. The second major principle is the distribution of power to localized frontline units, pods, or teams. This allows teams to react faster and with more insight while being guided and aligned by the purpose, vision, or key business goals. Other themes you will embrace along this journey are transparency, autonomy, and the one that trips up most organizations, heightened communication. 


Here is a simple way to assess your organization's readiness to step into the future of work with self-management, in three game-changing concepts:


Determine Where You Are Now


Let's look at the values and beliefs your leaders hold about people. Three stages describe most companies today. Which is closest to yours?


Stage A:  Your organization and managers value competition, control, delegation, stability, and top-down structure. People function best when there are orders and transparent rules. Most companies are run this way. Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy led from these beliefs.


Stage B: Your organization and leaders value equality, acceptance, consensus, and resource sharing. People function best when there are value alignment and family spirit. Ben & Jerry's and nonprofits thrive here. Jimmy Carter led from these beliefs. Delivering Happiness wrote the book on this.


Stage C: Your organization and leaders value change, flexibility, transparency, learning, freedom, and individuality. People function best when they are purpose-driven and self-organized. Patagonia operates this way. John Mackey, co-CEO of Whole Foods, leads from here. Self-management thrives here.


No stage is better than the others; each can be exceptional. However, they do build on each other. So, you now have a pulse on how far you may be from adapting a holacratic model.


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Three Principles


These concepts of self-management can help you evolve. The goal is to integrate these in a way that feels natural and works with your culture. Keep these three principles in mind as you implement this new management style into your workplace:


1.We Are All Leaders


Consider these questions: 

  • How do your managers lead?
  • How much are trust and control shared?
  • What drives performance?

In self-management, the role of leaders evolves to that of a servant-leader: they empower, enable, and inspire others. Leaders coach individuals to realize their unique purpose and how it aligns with the organization's purpose. Ultimately, they hold the space where employees can be their best by offering education, a sense of progress, and meaningful relationships to adapt and thrive. Solutions are not handed down; employees find their own approach. Trust and autonomy tap into powerful personal motivation.


2.Be Purpose Driven

Consider these questions:

  • Does your organization have a higher purpose?
  • Does it resonate?
  • How do leaders model it?

In self-managed organizations, the mission goes beyond making money or winning, to making valuable contributions to a cause that elevates humanity. No small stuff! Leadership's role is to exemplify this purpose and use it to inspire decisions. People are able to align and pursue their own purpose and gifts through their work.




Consider these questions:

  • How is organizational information shared?
  • On a need-to-know basis or distributed to all?
  • How about financial information?

In a transparent organization, information is no longer a commodity; it flows freely. Teams need information about finance, organizational direction, and cross-functional initiatives to make the best decisions. In practice, it's about openness and a commitment to truth. Transparency removes shadows, silos, and fear to free everyone up to focus on the work that matters.


are you ready to make the change? sign up for DH's virtual masterclass with Sunny grosso to discover HOW YOUR CULTURE CAN MAKE THE BEST management style WORK FOR YOUR BUSINESS



About the Author

Sunny Grosso

Currently the Culture Chief at DH, Sunny’s mission is to inspire others to live BIG by being true to themselves and following their purpose. She is passionate about realizing this through positive work cultures. Through her diverse journey Sunny has been a wellness researcher, saké trainer, ultra-runner, one of the world’s first happiness coaches and, finally, a global culture consultant.

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