In a nutshell, Self-management is defined by any system that organizes and motivates people in the work environment differently than the current hierarchal way. Self-management does this by replacing the current hierarchal managerial system with any system that distributes all the accountabilities and HR responsibilities of the classical manager to all employees or groups that used to be managed by a central authority. There are endless variations of self-management, as we defined it, in theory and in practice. There is one common characteristic between all self-management variations, they are all distributing power that used to be given to one individual to many individuals. We are not talking about empowering people to do their work in the way they want, since empowerment still supports a centralistic approach. We are talking about the distribution of the classical managerial role.
Self-management systems have many benefits (that we are going to discuss in our next blog post), but there are two main challenges that you need to be aware of and prepare to deal with to be able to successfully implement and run a team using self-management.
The first challenge is getting people to understand that they are accountable and can make the needed change to resolve their tensions. The challenge is to convince them to start using the tools available for them. I don’t know if it’s old habits or human behavior, but most people prefer someone else to resolve their issues. The problem is that in a self-management system there isn’t anyone that is going to resolve your tensions. You have to do it by yourself. Making people realize it and operate that way is a big challenge (at least based on my experience).
The second challenge is also the secret sauce for any self-management system, the modified HR processes for a self-managed system. How are you going to hire, promote, give feedback, separate, compensate, deal with ethical issues? This is a partial list of different processes that need to be redefined to support a self-management system, and that is not an easy or short task at all.
I have never read any book, blog or article on self-management, Teal organization or any other name for new ways to organize and motivate people in the workspace that mentioned these challenges or proposed different ways of how to resolve them. The good news is that this is the goal of Marram, to help new and existing practitioners learn how to deal with the challenges and gain the benefits.