Self-management doesn't happen overnight (and fully self-managed might not be your endgame). However, by slowly and steadily allowing teams to set their own goals and trusting them to overcome any challenges that may arise, you will steer your organization on a path toward more agility and innovation. People thrive when they’re empowered and given the freedom, flexibility, and responsibility to self-manage, so trust them to make good choices and you’ll likely get astounding results.
Andy Golding·January 26, 2023·3 min read
One of the principles of Semco Style is Self-Management. It is about allowing smart, capable, and brilliant humans to make their own way toward a shared goal (aka the opposite of micromanaging and boxing in their thinking).
Think of it as putting power and responsibility back into the hands of the people or as Semco describes it: Self-management in companies is about bringing flexibility back to the workplace by enabling teams to make more and better decisions themselves, every day.
Check-ins and meetings should be held regularly to align or clarify work, however, the underlying assumption here is that smart people are capable and will get their share of the work done without leaders and managers needing to constantly jump in and ‘save the day’.
In the first article of this series, I spoke about trust as a foundation for both Semco Style and remote work. I referred to Ricardo Semler’s analogy “is this a workplace or a boarding school?” and how it all boils down to treating adults as adults.
Your employees are adults who run families, households, social clubs, and possibly even ‘side hustles’ as well as showing up to their jobs every day. We’re all self-organizing all the time, but somewhere along the way, the world of work forgot about that. Semco style brings it to the forefront.
Remote work done right relies on trusting people to get it done, from wherever.
Similarly, self-management is an important component of remote work as it provides companies with the opportunity to unlock new levels of discretionary effort by restoring employee autonomy and giving people their time and autonomy back. Give smart people the freedom and autonomy to solve tough problems.
Amongst the numerous practices that Semco Style teaches regarding self-management, the following are ways to easily integrate and introduce greater levels of self-management into your team regardless of your it being co-located or remote:
‘Team members set team goals’ - goals that people participate in setting are goals that they have an attachment to and are inherently more committed to achieving. Involving your team in the goal-setting process allows them to feel like they’ve contributed to what you’re working towards. Allow people to participate and then allow them to work out how to go about tackling these goals.
‘People can fix it themselves’ - leaders and managers may need to fight the urge to rush in and ‘fix-it’ when things go awry or get derailed. Trusting that people can sort it out and giving your team the space to figure it out (but being present to help if needed) fosters independence, diversity of thinking and problem-solving prowess across the team which makes the entire team stronger. Additionally, in a remote environment, especially one where people are working across various time zones, leaders and managers need to leave people to fix it themselves and to self-organize with the right people to solve the problem, because the leader might not always be online when a problem arises.
Self-management doesn't happen overnight (and fully self-managed might not be your endgame). However, by slowly and steadily allowing teams to set their own goals and trusting them to overcome any challenges that may arise, you will steer your organization on a path toward more agility and innovation. People thrive when they’re empowered and given the freedom, flexibility, and responsibility to self-manage, so trust them to make good choices and you’ll likely get astounding results