GETTING RID OF MANAGERS with Brian Robertson

Audio production by James Ede, Be Heard

According to the new Korn Ferry survey, not only did 82% of employees say they plan to quit their job over the next six months, but 31% of them say they’d quit even if they didn’t have another job lined up.

So why are so many people ready to leave their jobs now?

The survey sheds some light on the reasons:

  • 36% of employees said the number one reason is that the pandemic allowed them to reevaluate what they really want out of work.
  • Another 32% said they didn’t like their company’s culture.
  • And only 25% said they wanted more salary or benefits.

It looks like companies finally need to face the music – people are done with toxic cultures. They are done with bureaucracy, friction, drama, and burnout. They want more flexibility, more fun, meaning, and belonging at work.

So, where do we start fixing this mess?

Well, someone said once:

People don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers.

So here is a radical idea:

What if we got rid of managers altogether?

In 2007, my guest on this episode of the Culture Lab podcast, Brian Robertson had a burning sense that this actually wasn’t as crazy as it sounds.

And he started experimenting with what is now known today as holacracy – a practice that promises to transform outdated command hierarchies into agile, self-organizing networks. He soon found that:

Culture eats strategy for lunch and structure eats culture for dinner.

Here are a few things that scare the daylights out of some people and get others all juiced up about holacracy:

  • No job titles.
  • No managers.
  • No hierarchy.

Over 1000 companies adopted and use holacracy already – in healthcare, insurance, banking, retail, technology, nonprofit, and government sectors.

And, even if your company is not going to transition to holacracy any time soon, there are many practices there that you can still implement in a traditional organization. It’s definitely worth trying because, as Brian notes:

Holacracy is not about decreasing the power of the traditional hierarchy, it’s about increasing the power of everyone else.

Episode Highlights

Here are a few topics that we discuss in this conversation:

  • Why consensus is not the right answer if you want to get things done – and what the best alternative is.
  • The key misconceptions about holacracy.
  • How to prevent egoes from getting in the way of making decisions and working on projects as a team.
  • Defining roles and expectations.
  • Team structure.
  • Transitioning to holacracy – barriers and enablers.
  • The power of giving people a structure and enabling everyone on the team to act as a business partner and a co-founder.
  • Who already uses holacracy and how they benefited from it.
  • Dealing with low performance and compensation issues.

Listen to the interview in the player below or on iTunes. If you like what you hear, please leave a review, and it may be featured on a future episode.

Audio production by James Ede, Be Heard

More about Brian Robertson

Brian Robertson is the world’s foremost expert on Holacracy, a revolutionary framework for self-managing organizations. After years as CEO of an award-winning software company, he co-founded HolacracyOne to share this innovative method with other organizations. The Holacracy framework integrates the collective wisdom of individuals throughout an organization and offers a toolset for each person to enact meaningful change at any level of work. The result is increased transparency, greater accountability, constant innovation, and agility across the company. Holacracy is used by over 1000 companies today – in healthcare, insurance, banking, retail, technology, nonprofit, and government sectors and in places as diverse as Dubai, Shanghai, Amsterdam, London, Berlin, New York, Bangalore, Las Vegas, and rural Africa. Brian is thrilled to see this method take root and grow with such force.

Brian is the author of the book Holacracy: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World. He speaks at conferences, holds trainings, and consults for organizations across the globe.

Books and resources mentioned in this episode

Introduction to Holacracy (video)

Holacracy Blog Collection

Seeing systems and leading systems by

Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux

Additional resources 

CultureBrained Community – a one-of-a-kind virtual community for Heads of Culture, founders, and leaders who want to up their culture game.

Scaleup’s Guide to Creating a Culture Playbook

Personal Core Values Discovery Guide

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