A few weeks ago, we published our company values and guiding principles. Whilst in that earlier blog post we elaborated why we think it is important to make them explicit and how we went about mapping them out, we wanted to dive deeper into each value in follow-up posts and explain what they mean to us.We’ve almost reached the end of this little blog post series on our core values, but a very important one is still outstanding: Today, let’s talk about Self-Management!We work in a system strongly based on Holacracy, meaning we are not running on a conventional management hierarchy. Instead of resting with one (or several) person(s) – usually the CEO – authority is distributed under all employees via agile roles that are continuously adjusted according to upcoming tensions or needs in order to improve the company structure. The roles‘ purposes and accountabilities are clear and transparent to both role-fillers and others and define our respective areas of responsibility. We are rather flexible in our working hours or location as long as we fulfill what is expected of us. As we don’t have supervisors who micro-manage us or our tasks, and as every one of us is fully accountable for our work, excellent Self-Management skills are essential: We need to get things done, seek alignment, but not consensus, and be determined to learn and grow.
The purposes and accountabilities of our roles serve as guiding stars, but they don’t cover everything that affects our daily business. Therefore, we need to have an overview of the current state of our projects and To-Dos at all times – it is important that each of us has a working self-management system. Many of us work with David Allen’s Getting Things Done (or alterations of it). We offer a workshop to our newbies during the Onboarding Week, and we also have a role that is filled by a GTD expert who can answer questions or give advice to improve existing systems. Our systems help us to organize our work, manage our time efficiently and make sure none of our tasks fall through the cracks.
Being self-managed means we need to develop the confidence to take decisions in our areas of expertise. (It is equally important to know when we need input to make a decision and ask the right people for help, though!) Of course we need to take into account company priorities, strategies and objectives and the opinions of stakeholders, but in the end, we as fillers of our respective roles must decide what makes sense and do what we think brings the most value to the company. The question that we can ask ourselves and that can help us decide if we should do something or not is “is it safe enough to try?”. As long as we can respond to this question with yes, meaning that the outcome of our decision will not definitely harm the company in some way, we can go ahead and try it. Logically, we will have to monitor the consequences of our decisions, so we can adapt if something is not going as originally planned, and we will also be held accountable for them. This contributes to changes and processes being implemented faster: getting consensus (= agreement of all parties) takes a lot more time than getting consent (= nobody has a significant objection). It’s one of the key ideas of Holacracy - a proposed change cannot be directly blocked by others, just because they don’t like the idea. That way, hidden politics are much harder to play and everyone’s ideas are taken into account.
Especially in a setup where being driven and eager to learn is sometimes enough to qualify for a task or role, we need to seek to learn new skills and improve our knowledge constantly. At EMPAUA, each person has several hours per week that can be used on self-development and energizing internal roles. On a regular basis, knowledge sharing sessions on different topics are offered to everyone in the company. A lot of information about our culture, the system we work in, helpful further reading material, best practices, and processes at EMPAUA are also accessible in our internal Wiki PAUApedia. As goals are helpful to keep track of where we are heading and give us a sense of direction, everyone is encouraged to set themselves goals. For that, we also have regular goal-setting sessions with our team leads, who can provide help or inspiration when needed. All individual goals are visible to all team members, as letting others know about your goals usually is a huge motivator. Also, that way people can see who might have similar goals to exploit potential synergies – and isn’t it much more fun to have a partner in crime? :)If you are interested in our other core values, feel free to check out our deep-dives into Community, Collaboration, and Transparency. Please get in touch via email in case you have questions or want to learn more about our company culture!
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