New Beginnings in the Workplace
Professional wellbeing is linked to the pleasure we derive from doing work that is meaningful to us. To be inspired by one’s job creates a positive and healthy professional ethos and, in turn, contributes to greater emotional wellbeing.
At a time when employee disengagement has become widespread across the business world, with so many workers not feeling psychological attachment to their jobs, especially in the era of COVID, an idea has taken hold to address the issue. It’s called holacracy. The aspiration is to give employees a clear feeling that they own their work. With this system, productivity not only increases, but workers usually feel that they are more engaged. It’s been an experiment in self-management espoused by Zappos, a company known for selling shoes, bags, and other clothing. Zappos prides itself on exceptional customer service. They are also a leader in Professional Wellbeing.
Called a framework for evolutionary management, holacracy has been spreading around the world as the most efficient and worker-friendly management style around. Teams can become circles, pods, or cabals. Whatever they are called, it’s the personal responsibility taken by each individual on the job or project that appears to strengthen the organization.
Created in 2007 by Brian Robertson and Tom Thomison, holacracy is a way to use self-management in a “peer-to-peer operating system” to increase transparency, accountability, and organizational agility. But this self-management style actually began nearly 70 years ago, when Eric Trist of the Tavistock Institute in England, an early think tank, learned that self-management teams were able to add efficiency to the operation of coal mines.
In Sweden, Volvo, showing that manufacturing and service operations could benefit from self-management, actually proved it in 1987 by reducing defects in its automobiles by 90% using the system. Based on their triumph, the idea subsequently gained traction elsewhere. Since then, the concept has spread widely throughout a variety of businesses, proven to be successful in many cases, by enhancing reliability and adaptability in the workforce.
With holacracy, leadership becomes contextual, with people assuming roles rather than specific jobs, and roles may shift according to the need. The so-called flat organization can certainly thrive, but not always. The key to implementing new management structures is to be attentive to the needs of the organization, but even more so to those within it. Is it all about speed? Efficiency? Productivity? Excellence? Personal pride? Individual accomplishment?
I believe that the collective “we” is as important as the end result, when it comes to keeping workers engaged, focused, and productive. Whether you adopt a holacratic approach in the workplace or use an alternative but equally innovative way to achieve the best results, it’s so important to lean in, tune in to your workers’ needs, and adapt to the whole. Wholistic Wellbeing and Professional Wellbeing must sing in harmony. This new year, embrace new approaches to workplace management with Professional Wellbeing as a cornerstone.