I’ve dedicated my career to “making work not suck for people”, and spent almost a decade working in employee experience design. I had no doubt that learning more about how SEMCO got it right was bound to give me some great insight into building even better remote companies, remote culture, and remote employee experience.
Andy Golding·May 04, 2023·4 min read
A remote company should always be trying to optimize for performance and efficiency without compromising on freedom and autonomy. By intentionally focusing on what to control and what not to, companies can open up massive space for people to think freely, design their own lives and bring their discretionary effort to work. When people are being treated like the capable adults that they are and the company is trusting them to get their work done, on time, and at a high standard, there is no need to police presenteeism or progress.
Maverick, the book by Ricardo Semler (SEMCO) is one of the first business books I ever read. I have always been averse to unnecessary rules and controls and I have never understood why companies often feel such a powerful need to control and inhibit people instead of empowering and enabling them. Semler's approach to self-management and self-organization resonated with me instantly. (Here’s his TED talk, a catalyst to my reading Maverick). Imagine my excitement when almost a decade after reading the book I was given an opportunity to study the methodology and practices that Ricardo crafted and wove into the fabric of SEMCO and that has now been codified into the Semco Style Certification.
I’ve dedicated my career to “making work not suck for people”, and spent almost a decade working in employee experience design. I had no doubt that learning more about how SEMCO got it right was bound to give me some great insight into building even better remote companies, remote culture, and remote employee experience. Throughout the program, I kept coming back to a thought I have had numerous times throughout my career so far. “This is not rocket science, it just takes hard work and a willingness to try new things”. None of the practices in the Semco Style framework are closely related to String Theory or Quantum Dynamics. This is their superpower. They are all easy to understand, internalize and experiment with… it’s a matter of actioning them and keeping at it.
Everything within the Semco Style framework is oriented around pushing power back to the right places in the business, i.e. into the hands of the employees. The smart, brilliant, capable people who are being employed to drive the company goals forward. Get out of their way and give them everything they need, especially power, autonomy, and decision-making authority to be brilliant.
In the previous three articles in this series of four, I have detailed the practices and learnings from the Expert Certification Program that I found particularly pertinent to a remote environment but a precursor to success in implementing any of these is that you have to choose to trust your people.
You have to choose to trust.
Yes, it is a conscious decision you can make, and unless you make the decision you will likely always struggle to create a great place to work where people thrive and deliver exceptional quality, consistently.
It’s a core belief of mine that the headspace and the heart space of human beings is the most untapped natural asset on the planet. Millions of businesses employ millions of people but fail to unleash the true capability of human beings.
Choosing to trust is the master key to unlocking the innate brilliance of human beings.
Choosing to trust is the first thing Ricardo Semler chose to do when he took the helm at SEMCO.
𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘭𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘢 𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘭𝘦𝘴 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘭𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘦𝘮𝘤𝘰 𝘚𝘵𝘺𝘭𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘣𝘦 𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘭𝘪𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘰𝘵𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘬 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘰𝘵𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘦𝘴.
Have a look at Andy's previous articles:
Semco Style & Remote Work: Trust as the Foundation
Semco Style & Remote Work: Self Management
Semco Style & Remote Work: Alternative Controls
About the author: Andy Golding is the remote-work manager for SaaS procurement firm Sastrify. She is an author, TEDx speaker, and commentator on employee experience, ‘humans-at-work’, and all things remote work.