Luke Kyte

Our culture revolution – Part 18: Our managerless environment begins to take shape

Category Tags: Culture

We’re just a normal agency. You may own one. You may work for one. We’re ticking along nicely, picking up new business and growing at a good pace. The team size has upped from 1 to 20 in five years, with plans of reaching 50 by 2021. Everyone seems happy.

But we want more.

Day Zero was the launch of our manifesto. Its aim? To revolutionise our culture, attract amazing talent, and be recognised nationally as a great place to work.

Over the course of the next few months we’ll be taking you to the heart of Reddico, sharing our highs, our lows, and our eureka moments. We’ll be honest and open about everything. What works. What doesn’t. Whether you’re here for inspiration, to watch us fail, or out of sheer curiosity, welcome along.

No hours. No managers. Rules set by the team. Let’s see what happens next.

Last time out we covered our commitment to creating a managerless environment, by identifying two key roles:

  • Department leads
  • Coaches

Looking at the table below, department leads fit Role A. They’re highly skilled and knowledgeable in their job, with a responsibility for growing a particular department. Role B would be the coach – someone with excellent people skills who can motivate, support and empower others.

For us, Role B isn’t assumed. We don’t want to give people the huge task of supporting others, without having the necessary skills to do an amazing job.

That’s why we have to enhance the leadership skills of anyone becoming a coach.

Horses Coaches for courses

In business, not everyone wants to manage people. Not everyone wants to be responsible for helping others develop. They’d rather focus on their own careers and grow the department or business in different ways.

We don’t want to force people into situations where they’re uncomfortable. Whilst our coaches don’t manage, they are there to support and mentor.

That’s why coaches have to opt in. It’s something you either do or don’t enjoy.

We’ve been speaking to Happy and, in particular, Henry Stuart (@happyhenry) for a while now. His book – The Happy Manifesto – helped form some of the ideas we’ve had over the last 12 months.

So, when we noticed a Level 5 management course run in tangent with the guys at Happy, it seemed an obvious route to take.

It’s an 18-month programme funded by the Apprenticeship Levy (so only £900 for the whole course – or free if your payroll is over £3m).

The syllabus looks comprehensive too, covering:

  • Who you are as a leader
  • Empowering your team
  • 1 to 1s
  • Coaching
  • Learning styles
  • Becoming a multiplier
  • Goals and targets
  • And much more

It’s one day a month of training, followed by assignments and personal learning to support the in-house syllabus.

How many coaches do we have?

After sharing the presentation included in this post, we asked the team to put themselves forward for a coaching position.

We made it clear there would be no financial incentive for doing it – it’s simply a desire to help and support others.

Around half of the company put themselves forward – which is amazing, and more than we expected. As we don’t have a bottomless pit of gold, we had to take the decision that only chosen coaches would attend the course to begin with.

So, we put the names into a Google form and asked everyone to pick the coach they wanted.

There were seven chosen from the list, and these were enrolled onto the Level 5 course – starting February 27th.

Department leads and coaches FAQs

A lot of the questions below can be answered from the presentation, but we’ve added them here for ease, too.

1.What if someone didn’t want one of the coaches?

This was a possibility and we did have this problem to an extent – where one of the team wanted to choose someone who hadn’t put their name in the hat. Of course, there are many reasons why someone might not put themselves forward, including:

  • They don’t think they have the personal skills
  • Haven’t the time
  • Don’t think they’d be chosen

By knowing someone wants you to be their coach, you could be convinced to sign up.

In this instance, there were other suitable people – and everyone was happy with the resolution.

2. Who’s responsible for probations?

Probations were a tricky part of the process to understand. However, in the end we decided that both a department lead and the coach would be involved.

The department lead gives their verdict on the quality and aptitude, whilst the coach feeds back on the team member’s personal development.

3. So, who would be someone’s first coach?

That depends on who puts themself forward. When joining the company, a new team member would have the most relevant coach to their role.

If there are multiple potential coaches, it would be the coach with the fewest people on their books.

4. Who would run appraisals?

Many companies hold appraisals annually. But there isn’t a continual feedback loop, and that’s a problem. It’s all fixed to one event every 12 months – which doesn’t seem the best way to run appraisals.

We wanted to change this, and incorporate quarterly appraisals – with the coach. We’re in the process of creating a fresh appraisal form based on career success and aspirations, making the whole experience a lot more positive and enjoyable.

Everyone can then catch up with their coach as and when they want, which combined with the quarterly appraisal, ensures we’re talking to the team and getting feedback much more consistently.

5. Who would decide if someone should have a salary increase?

Neither the department lead or the coach.

We’re trying to put more structure to our salary reviews, by having a dedicated panel responsible for increases. We’ll share more about this once the plan is finalised.

6. Can you be both a department lead and a coach?

Simply put, yes.

What’s next?

Next up, we’re moving away from the management side of our manifesto and turning our head to recruitment.

Whilst having the guidelines and framework in place from everything we’ve introduced is one thing, we need the right team behind us to drive the culture and ensure day-to-day operations continue as normal.

That makes recruitment, and bringing the right people on board, a vital part of ensuring the culture we’re striving to create is realised.

We’ll be giving an insight into our recruitment process and what boxes candidates have to tick to become part of our awesome team.