June 7th, 2017

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This week I was very pleased to find a pretty good fix for my hierarchy allergy. We have welcomed so many new people at Humankind already this year and given the growing size of our team, it was time to include a full organisation diagram in our welcome pack. This diagram shows everyone in the business; their picture, role, location and number of hours. The diagram also indicates who each team member is supported by, and by this, I mean who they report to.

Starting right at the beginning, I have always hated the B word. I have never thought of myself as anyone’s Boss, and never will. I absolutely hate being introduced by my team as their boss and have been embarrassed when this has happened in the past. In my view, we are all one team and work together to provide awesome services to our clients. Boss is such a old fashioned word, and when you look up the definition you will get a taste of why it is not in my vocab.

Anyone who knows me, may already know of my journey trying Holacracy as a structure in 2015. I blogged about our experience at the time and have copied links to these blogs below – Why we chose Holacracy, How the implementation went and ultimately what led to me moving away from Holacracy.

During this stage of the business I was looking for a system which meant I wouldn’t need traditional hierarchy. I knew Humankind (HR Shop at the time) was a modern business filled with talented professionals that really didn’t need to be managed. I still believe this, but what has been proven true is that growing from 10 to 30 people has meant we have needed strong leadership and our team have craved a more traditional structure with define leadership roles. Thankfully at Humankind we still have many of the attributes I was seeking to keep and grow and which I thought any hierarchy might diminish. These include; high levels of trust, transparency, flexibility and encouraging everyone to bring their whole selves to work.

When we started to put our structure onto a page, showing every individual (moving away from a loose concept) I saw myself at the top of the page with everyone ‘below’ me. I had an immediate reaction, it didn’t look or feel right. At all. I asked Nick (my amazing right hand Marketing man) to flip it upside down and have the team at the top, and supporting leadership roles cascading down, with me at the bottom. The immediate comfort I felt was quite surprising. It felt perfect, just as it should be, in my view.

My job is to support my leadership team with whatever they need to be successful in their roles, and be the best they can be. Their role is to do the same for their teams. Ultimately this actually puts the clients at the top of our diagram, which is right given our vision is to help NZ build the best workplaces in the world. Our reverse hierarchy means no more allergic reactions for now!

Humankind has evolved and grown to the size where I will have space to focus on developing our leadership team and people, I am very grateful for this. I really like the Servant Leadership model and look forward to exploring how this comes to life over the next phase of growth.

Who else practices Servant Leadership? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

#growth #wearehumankind #servantleadership

Links to 2015/16 HR Shop Holacracy blog series below:

Holacracy at Humankind: What and Why

Holacracy at Humankind: Digging Deeper

Holacracy Update 3.0