Kill Your Managers

Mitch JoelPosted by

What is this Holacracy of which you speak?

If there’s one thing that businesses are constantly looking for, it’s a better (and more efficient) way to manage its people. We’ve moved from the industrial age to the Internet age, and it has uprooted many of the preconceived notions that we have about management. We’re trying to get people to come to work, be motivated and stay, as a way to drive even more profit and keep the costs of doing business down. The other week, I was honoured to have management theorist and revered scholar, Henry Mintzberg on the Six Pixels of Separation podcast (you can listed to it right here: SPOS #470 – Henry Mintzberg On Management). Mintzberg believes that we don’t give managers enough time and room to think (by themselves). The pressure to hit quarterly earnings, and the speed of business today has forced management to cut corners, and in doing so, has also led to poor judgement calls, and a very corrupt system that puts profits above people and the betterment of our society.

Is there another way?

For some, the answer is to look at what companies like Facebook and Google have done, in terms of revolutionizing the workplace. We have seen this Silicon Valley approach to work, and it has made many other businesses and industries look archaic in comparison. Suddenly, as the battle for talent, and need to have people work harder becomes a reality, we’re seeing the addition of amazing free services for staff added to the workplace (from dry cleaning services to free food prepared my Michelin Star chefs). Still, there are issues. People are not happy. Just after spending an hour with Henry Mintzberg, Business Insider published the article: Facebook employees reveal 22 awful things about working at Facebook. And, while it reads more like the complaints of a few people who simply didn’t fit the culture (or have egos that could never be managed), it raises an interesting thought: if you can’t be happy at a place like Facebook, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Is it less about where you work, and more about who is managing you?

That’s a harder question to answer. It turns out that many now believe it’s not really about the people, but rather how we organize and lead management. Every few years, someone comes up with a new management style that shakes the foundation of business. When Zappos announced that they would move towards a new method known as Holacracy, they lost a whole bunch of people who felt like this would hurt both the company, and their individual ability to advance in the organization. Holcacracy sounds great, but it requires two things: people who feel like they can really lead themselves, and a leader who believes that they have the right people in place to make the right decisions. That seems simple enough (we’re all awesome at the work that we do, right?), but how often do we see these types of environments? Finding a job is hard enough. Finding a job that we’re thrilled about, sounds like a first world problem. Finding a job where we’re allowed to lead ourselves sounds like winning the lottery.

Well, maybe not, Maybe it is a reality.

Brian J. Robertson created Holacracy, founded HolacracyOne and wrote the book titled, Holacracy. He visited Google recently to discuss what this new management system is, how he came up with, why it matters, and how it can help improve the workplace in our rapidly changing world. Even if you and your organization could never switch to a Holacracy system, it is a very important presentation to watch, as it is filled with insights on how to make people, teams and our work more effective and meaningful.

Watch this: Google Talks – Brian J. Robertson on Holacracy: