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HR and Talent Weekly Roundup: The Scoop on Holacracy

Org ChartWe've hit a new business journalism trend: when Zappos implements something new, we consider it Gospel. Reporters go wild. And suddenly there's a hot new business trend.  Such is the case with holacracy, a management technique that removes hierarchy from organizational structure to strengthen communication and remove barriers in an organization. It's not new--but it's new to Zappos. And by journalist creed, that means it's now hot. Or something like that.

Does it work? Sure. In certain organizations. Will it work for Zappos? That remains to be seen. But since it's the buzz word of the month, it's important you understand how it works, the skeptic's point of view and who's using it. This way when the boss comes knocking to see what you think, you'll be right on trend.

1)  Holacracy: The Hot Management Trend for 2014 from Mashable

"The advantage of such a structure, Robertson says, is that it "generates organizational clarity." That is, in theory at least, workers are more concerned with the task at hand than trying to look good for the boss. Robertson says he discovered this structure by trial and error while running a software start-up in the early 2000s.  Additionally, no one has to be stuck doing one thing all the time. If you're a whiz at programming, for instance, you can make your job 100% about doing that, but you can also spend, say, 10% pursuing an interest, like helping run events or marketing, if you're so inclined.

2) No Managers Required: How Zappos Ditched the Old Corporate Structure for Something New from Fast Company

"No more job titles. No more managers. No more hierarchical decisions. By this time next year, Zappos’s 1,500 workers will be organized into something called a holacracy.  Holacracy is a little known organizational management system that’s is gaining a toehold in the business world. Zappos, so far, is its biggest adopter. Holacracy takes its name from the Greek word holos, a single, autonomous, self-sufficient unit, that is, at the same time, dependent on a larger unit. Think of a human cell’s relationship to the entire body."

3) Here's Why Eliminating Titles And Managers At Zappos Probably Won't Work from Business Insider

"The fundamental issue? People just didn't self-regulate as well as the companies had hoped. Teams weren't good at disciplining themselves either. "We're human beings; we just don't do that," Klein says. "We're social beings, and social issues get in the way of logic sometimes."  Another challenge was attrition. Companies bled talent as successful managers jumped ship instead of losing their titles. At the same time, poor and mediocre managers that the companies hoped to effectively demote continued to be seen as de facto leaders.  What remains particularly unclear in the case of Zappos is how deep the elimination of titles will run."

4)  Five Misconceptions About Holacracy® from Medium.com

"Holacracy is so different from how we typically think about organization, so, it comes as no surprise to me that there are some confusing things being said out there.  Further, Holacracy makes all rules and roles explicit so that no one has to guess, and everyone can be on the same page.  In Holacracy, power is held by roles, not people, and those roles gain power through a governance process, not from a boss delegating it.   Holacracy doesn’t dictate exactly how a company should do everything, but rather how it should go about organizing itself and deciding how specific processes work. Holacracy specifies how to decide, not what to decide."

5) The Next Big Thing You Missed: Companies That Work Better Without Bosses from Wired

"Can these companies really overcome the “master and servant” paradigm — an arrangement so entrenched that it’s practically synonymous with the workplace itself? Gonzales-Black acknowledges that it may be difficult. “We humans love the idea that we know where the buck stops,” she says. “That’s a perfectly natural inclination to want and to desire.” But she believes holacracy will ultimately win the day."

Susan LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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HR and Talent News Roundup: Scaling Your Workforce Edition

As companies scale, culture and growth go hand-in-hand. This means founders and leaders have to be more and more creative about how to ensure they continue to sustain culture so it doesn't get lost in the forest of growth. This week we share multiple examples of ways you can think about scaling the talent side of your business in the right way. 1) Why Zappos CEO Hsieh Wants To Enable More Collisions In Vegas from Forbes

" "When a city doubles in size, innovation increases by 15 percent,” he says. “But when companies get bigger, productivity goes down.” To avoid that destiny as Zappos expands, he aims to organize the company “more like a city and less like a large company” with densely populated workspaces, and, when it comes to navigating them, a preference for “collisions over convenience.”

2) Small business advice: How to set your firm up for long-term, sustainable growth from The Washington Post

"Hire the right sales people for the right positions and set performance expectations early. Having a well-developed sales culture from the get-go is essential in setting the stage for incoming talent, and it will keep the existing representatives inspired for the long haul...It is much easier to maintain a good culture than fix a bad one. If your once-thriving sales culture becomes stagnant, consider adding fresh talent. Bringing in new, hungry individuals to any team can ignite productivity among existing members."

3) Supercell's CEO reveals the culture he built to produce a £2.5 billion company in 2 years from Wired

"Despite this [success], all Pannenan wants to talk about is company values, both in terms of organisational structure and "the power of small." It is a manifesto for building a better company and he is conscious the world is now listening.  "The best people make the best games," says Ilkka Paananen, founder of Finnish gaming startup Supercell. "It sounds simple and perhaps naive, but if you truly believe it then the only thing that matters is getting those people and creating the best possible environment so they stay." "

4) 4 Ways to Build On Your Company Culture from Momentum

"When you’re not a startup anymore, it can feel like company culture is something that’s already set in stone — not something you can adapt father and improve. This couldn’t be any farther from the truth. Culture can be developed and molded over time, especially with new leadership at the helm."

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Susan LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce strategy that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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