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Self-Management:
a shift in the workplace

Self-management blows a breath of fresh air through the traditional workplace. With it, everyone in the organization is encouraged to take control of their actions and decisions. It creates a sense of personal responsibility. Everyone gets to set their own goals and take the initiative to achieve them. Luckily, this approach has been gaining traction in the workplace. In the end, it makes employees a lot happier. And at the same time, it has the potential to boost productivity, creativity, and job satisfaction.

Self-management and flat organizations

In a flat organization, self-management takes on a transformative role. There a no more traditional layers of management: the power dynamics shift towards employees.

Communication plays a crucial role in any organization - or at least it should. This is especially the case for self-management within a flat organization. Radical transparency is the way to do this. When the organization relies on trust, you need this transparency in all aspects. And open dialogue encourages team members to share ideas, which boosts innovation.

In flat — or bossless — organizations, self-management is not just about individual autonomy. It’s also about collective responsibility. Each team member is responsible for their own tasks and, at the same time, contributes to the team’s overall goals. This shared responsibility can lift teams to the next level in terms of innovation, productivity, and overall success.

In a non-hierarchical organization, the implementation of self-management often involves the creation of a network of cross-functional teams. These clusters can have different names, like ‘squads’ or ‘tribes’. The teams can operate like mini start-ups within the organization, each with its own set of goals and objectives. They have the autonomy to decide what to do, how to do it, and how to work together while doing it: they’re self-governing. The team also chooses their own leader, sometimes per project.

Of course, there are also challenges to self-management. The foundations of trust and open communication need to be solid. If you’re making the change, you may want to train or mentor the staff. But in the end, it probably leads to great results. It has for our pioneers!

The Rebels' vision of self-management

At Corporate Rebels, we strongly believe in the power of self-management. We see autonomy as a key component of our vision for a more progressive, fulfilling, and efficient way of working.

That’s why we share stories about companies that have successfully transitioned to self-management. These stories highlight the benefits, such as increased employee engagement and productivity.

We believe that traditional management structures, particularly when it comes to middle management, need to be updated. These structures often hinder creativity and productivity, creating unnecessary bureaucracy and stifling innovation.

Bumpy ride called self-management

Transitioning to self-management is not always a straightforward process. It requires a completely different organizational structure. Traditional hierarchies need to be let go, and there needs to be a commitment to empowering team members.

How do you do that? Well, many ways lead to Rome. A good solid base, with thorough preparation, is necessary. That’s why we’ve created comprehensive courses to get you ready to set the direction. 

You can access all courses and improve your feedback approach, learn how to run better meetings (time and energy saver for everyone!), and how to transform your organization. We also dive deep into the methods of some pioneers, like Buurtzorg and Haier, so you can learn from them.

And if you want to go even further, we have a masterclass waiting for you.

The challenges of traditional management for self-management

Traditional hierarchies often get in the way of self-management. One of the main limitations of traditional structures is that it contradicts the concept of employee empowerment. In a traditional setup, decision-making power is concentrated at the top, leaving little room for employees to take initiative or make meaningful contributions. There’s simply no chance for self-management.

Old-school management styles also have limited potential for motivation. They often rely on extrinsic motivators like pay and benefits. This doesn’t do wonders for job satisfaction and employee engagement.

Strict hierarchies and rigid rules can stifle creativity and discourage employees from thinking outside the box. This can be particularly hurtful in industries where innovation is necessary to stay competitive.

If you know us a little, it won’t surprise you that we believe that these challenges with traditional management need a shift towards a more progressive mode.

This transition to self-management needs to be carefully planned and executed. It’s not about simply removing middle managers or changing job titles. It’s about fostering a culture of trust, responsibility, and mutual respect. And equipping employees with the skills and knowledge they need to manage their work effectively.

We believe that the future of work lies in self-management. And while the transition may be challenging, we are confident that the benefits far outweigh the challenges.

Implementing
self-management

Implementing self-management in an organization is not a straightforward process. It requires careful planning, training, and most importantly: a change in mindset.

Here are some tips for implementing self-management:

Start with a clear vision

Make sure this vision aligns with the organization’s values. These should be communicated clearly to all members of the organization

Provide training and support

As we mentioned, transitioning to self-management requires a shift in mindset. Provide training and support to help everyone get the most out of this shift

Empower teams

Encourage teams to take ownership of their work and make decisions autonomously

Encourage full transparency

Open and transparent communication is key in a self-managed organization. Encourage teams to share information freely and communicate openly

Reflect

Implementing self-management is a journey. Be open to learning and reflecting on your approach based on feedback and experience

Many pioneers have paved the way to self-management. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, learn from them! For example, Buurtzorg, a home-care nursing organization, has successfully implemented self-management by empowering their nurses. They started with a team of 4 nurses and grew organically by splitting teams that grew larger than twelve people. This approach allowed Buurtzorg to grow quickly and organically. 15.000 nurses are working there now.

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