This week’s guest blog is by Luke Beaumont at Connect in the North.
In September 2020 Connect in the North became a self-managed team, working without a manager at the centre of the organisation.
Instead, the core team are responsible for different parts of the organisation.
The original idea
When our Manager of for over 20 years retired, we knew we needed to make big decisions about our future.
As an organisation, we have been interested in the concept of self-managed teams for a long time.
We were inspired by a fascinating conversation with Sally Warren from Paradigm in a pub in Leeds.
Being a self –managed team fitted with working in a person centred way. Believing that every team member has something to offer.
We had delivered training courses about the ethos of being self-managed. This seemed an ideal opportunity for Connect in the North to trial working as a self-managed team.
We decided with our board of directors to trial being a self-managed team for 6 months.
We were lucky that we already worked like a self-managed team by discussing any issues and coming to agreed consensus, when trying to solve problems and share out work tasks.
As a team we also understood our strengths.
The first steps
Some of the things which worried us about becoming a self-managed team was knowing who was responsible for certain areas of work, how to manage work load fairly, what to do if something went wrong, and who would be responsible if things did go wrong.
We decided we would need some consultation from an organisation who could help us address these concerns.
We felt Buurtzorg was the right organisation who would help us learn and develop. This is because of their pioneering work in the Netherlands and the UK.
During our time working with Buurtzorg we were given many tools to develop our organisation. They facilitated conversations where we were able to decide who was accountable for what within Connect in the North.
Connect in the North’s board of directors were involved with the full process.
They were involved with some of the meetings with Buurtzorg. We also had to report to the board every month to say how being a self-managed team is working.
The board decided in April that it was working well and we should continue as a self-managed team.
What we have learnt
Although there are lots of positives around becoming a self-managed team, there were some things we found challenging during the COVID 19 pandemic:
• Using online meetings for big discussions rather than face to face.
• Juggling lots of things all at the same time.
• Learning to do completely new tasks whilst continuing your old job.
We’d advise anyone changing to become a self-managed team to take the process slowly, give yourself a year so you can work through any issues or learn any new skills you need to be able to do additional jobs and tasks.
We’d also recommend having an outside agency involved to help you think through how it’s going to work.