Job Titles Can Open Doors

Job Titles Can Open Doors

#Interviews #Inspiration #Semco Style Institute #Semco Style

Job titles don’t occupy much space - whether they’re on a business card, an email signature, a name plaque or someone’s LinkedIn profile. However, they have a tremendous impact on the identity of a person, what they can do and what the world around them expects from them. Though businesses are increasingly embracing alternative management practices, people will still covet hard-won top-level management positions and C-suite titles.   Those few words, describing what a person does, have an enormous effect on their egos, their job satisfaction, and purpose in life. Simply put, titles are short, albeit powerful, identities that people chisel for themselves over years spent climbing the corporate ladder. But titles aren’t made equally and neither are they equally efficient. Generally speaking, the efficiency of something - both tangible and intangible, is contingent upon not just its capacity to get things done, but also upon how quickly it can get results. In that sense, traditional C-suite titles are obviously more efficient than titles several rungs below on the corporate ladder.

The Problem With Top- Down Goal Setting

#Inspiration #Semco Style Institute #Semco Style

When goals are set in a top-down manner, they can have unforeseen negative consequences. For example, employees feeling disengaged or no commitment towards achieving those goals. Perhaps, because they feel the goals are unattainable or find it difficult to relate to them. People particularly struggle to relate to the broad, organization-wide goals. More often than not, employees in a conventional, top-down company don’t feel connected to the goals and don’t engage with them in a meaningful way. The truth is employees in such organizations don’t necessarily relate the work they do to the success of the company. There’s an undercurrent of disassociation making people go about their work in an egocentric way, hoping and striving for a bonus, a raise or a promotion. However, when a company changes its goal-setting process and moves to a bottom-up approach, they will begin to see employees as real people and connect personally with them.    

Long-Term Budgets Do Nothing But Stifle Results

Long-Term Budgets Do Nothing But Stifle Results

#Inspiration #Semco Style Institute #Semco Style

Corporate budgeting is like astrology, predicting outcomes with certainty and prescribing ways to deal with events that are yet to materialize. And, managers are often so committed to their own forecasts that they’re willing to do whatever it takes to make them real - often at the cost of the company’s overall profits. In other words, corporate budgeting is a tedious mix of numbers, never-ending meetings and strained deliberations which drain valuable time and incentivizes corporate deceit. Basing the budgets on long-term projections introduces into the equation multiple variables nobody can control. More often than not, managers resort to lying and cheating so that they can set low targets and achieve results that therefore, seem tremendous. When every executive approaches the budget with a hidden agenda, the situation quickly devolves into people playing against each other. Rampant distrust festers and incentives meant to motivate performance get distorted, often risking the best interests of the company.  

The Secret Sauce To Semco’s Success

#Inspiration #Semco Style Institute #Semco Style

Most people, working in conventionally managed organizations, tend to ignore the imbalances in their personal and professional lives until the moment something goes wrong. It’s a highly reactionary attitude that leads to high-strung situations, deep regrets and a drained return to the workforce. Research invariably shows that people who are unable to dedicate enough time for their personal lives tend to be employees who are physically present, yet mentally absent. And it works both ways: People who work in high stress environments often find all that negativity reflecting on their personal lives, disrupting their familial and social relationships.  

A Fine Balance: Semco's Foray Into Self-Management With Minimal Hierarchy

A Fine Balance: Semco's Foray Into Self-Management With Minimal Hierarchy

#Inspiration #Semco Style Institute #Semco Style

The latest fad to hit the business world seems to be self-management. Every company wants to join the bandwagon and call themselves a “fully self-managed organization”, a “team of teams” or a “flat organization with no bosses”. While it’s not hogwash, neither is it the entire truth. Today, a fully self-managed organization is still more myth than reality. Of course, there are certain companies within specific contexts that have been able to function as truly self-managed organizations. But implicit hierarchies continue to exist even within such organizations. On the other hand, an organization with a minimum level of hierarchy, that is mature about how flat it can stretch itself, is closer to reality. Such organizations are neither completely flat nor conventionally hierarchical; their minimal hierarchies work like subsets in a Venn diagram, intersecting when necessary while existing and functioning independently. They have the best of both worlds, where dramatically reduced power distances and responsibility for results co-exist. And although they have a minimal hierarchical skeleton, the organization is nimble enough to respond rapidly to fluid market environments; it innovates strategically; and holds itself together with a central purpose.    

Hiring Adults? How About Treating Them As Adults Too?

#Inspiration #Semco Style Institute #Semco Style

If you’re a manager or a C-level executive, take a minute to consider this: Who do you think works for you? An adult who is capable of sound decisions and strong actions? Or, a (wo)man-child who needs hand-holding every step of a process? If you chose the second option, you’re probably wrong. Most corporate cultures have infantilized the workplace so much that there’s hardly any room for innovative risk-taking; boarding-school like conformity to rules; and no freedom to take autonomous decisions that may sometimes end in failure.

When Structured Meets Informal: How Semco Approached Mergers And Acquisitions

When Structured Meets Informal: How Semco Approached Mergers And Acquisitions

#Inspiration #Semco Style Institute #Semco Style

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures are great indicators of a company’s performance: The better performing company obviously takes over one that’s been underperforming; or, two equally-footed companies might join forces to take on bigger business. Either way, whenever there’s a merger, acquisition or a joint venture on the horizon, it spells a period of intense activity and dramatic change in the existing landscape. And, like any kind of change, it doesn’t sit well with the people in both the organizations. In fact, for many employees and managers, a merger could signal a time when their personal goals and ambitions are disrupted. Or, more traumatically, they could lose their jobs in the “integration” process that follows a merger. In fact, about 30 percent of employees risk losing their jobs when their company enters into a merger or acquisition within the same industry.

Read this if you shudder at the idea of inviting an employee to the board meeting.

#Inspiration #Semco Style Institute #Semco Style

Our ideas of company board meetings are heavily dictated by what we see in popular culture: Large, opulent conference rooms; men and women smartly dressed in suits; and heated arguments on mute because you’re always outside the soundproof glass walls of the board room. The business of the board has always been a well-guarded secret that comes into public scrutiny only when there’s a corporate disaster.

Peer Assessments - The Double-Edged Sword  

Peer Assessments - The Double-Edged Sword  

#Inspiration #Semco Style Institute #Semco Style

When it comes to getting feedback, what would you prefer? Receiving feedback from someone who doesn’t really do the things you do or understand all the nuances of your work? Or, would you prefer to be judged by someone who’s currently walking in your shoes? Most of us inherently want to be judged by someone who understands the travails of our jobs. We want our judges to empathize with the blood and sweat we’ve put into our work. So, why then are peer reviews such a counter-intuitive idea when it comes to the way business review employee performance?

Why Semco Decided To Put Down Its Code Of Conduct In Pencil

#Inspiration #Semco Style Institute #Semco Style

When organizations scale, processes and rules are their best friends: They help standardize how things should be done so that the business can run without stumbling often. The rules were originally meant to break down complex tasks and make it possible for anyone to get into the thick of things at anytime. However, people often confuse rules for being rigid routines that cannot be modified once set. But, in reality, rules need to be flexible enough to accommodate evolutions in technology, the market and customer needs.

When Managers Step Out Of The Spotlight Teams Shine

When Managers Step Out Of The Spotlight Teams Shine

If someone were to ask us to name the most important people in a company, most of us would name one of the C-level executives. That’s because we’ve been conditioned to believe that organizations rest on the broad shoulders of managers. However, in reality, the most important people in a company are the ones who do the actual heavy-lifting - the technical and creative employees. Managers are, by definition, persons responsible for administering an organization or a group of employees. And, by administering we mean serving or enabling.

When Team Members Seize Every Opportunity To Take The Lead

When Team Members Seize Every Opportunity To Take The Lead

Imagine a team meeting where a manager is discussing a set of problems with the teammates. Typically, the manager brings up the problem, the team members closest to it share a few details, offer updates and raise any concerns. Then, the attention reverts to the manager: He/She not only decides how the problem should be tackled, but also assigns who should do what. Such conventional management might offer the reliability that companies require, but they eclipse the need for adaptability and innovation. Now, imagine the same meeting with just one fundamental variation: The manager willingly steps off their pedestal and allows the discussion to naturally identify the person(s) most keen on solving the problem(s). In essence, the manager and his teammates understand that it’s a level playing field and that the person leading the team efforts should be someone who’s mastered a relevant process, equipment or faced a similar challenge in the past.

If You Want Them To Survive Give Them A Survival Manual They’d Read

If You Want Them To Survive Give Them A Survival Manual They’d Read

#Inspiration #Semco Style Institute #Semco Style

What is the purpose of an employee handbook? Is it to inform employees about the ways of the company they’re joining? Is it to create a safety net of sorts for the company to guard itself against potential lawsuits? Or, should it be to encourage employees to use their best judgments; to act according to common sense; and to be brave enough to bend or break rules when following them would only compound the situation?

Bonuses Don’t Matter Unless People Feel Proud About Them

#Inspiration #Semco Style Institute #Semco Style

Companies offering a share of their profits to employees is old news. Many organizations pool a percentage of their profits and divide them between employees as year-end incentives. However, there is a lack of clarity on why certain employees receive certain levels of incentives. Nothing about the incentive received through the profit-sharing model is personal. And when it isn’t personal, people find it difficult to feel motivated to go over and beyond their routine responsibilities.

Merry Christmas...

Merry Christmas...

Merry Christmas...

Move On Dear CEO. It's Time For A New One.

#Inspiration #Semco Style Institute #Semco Style

Many of the successful companies today have been around for decades or, sometimes, even centuries. That’s a long period of time during which they inevitably faced multiple challenges, the need to innovate and to stay nimble in a volatile market. But, if you take a look at the number of people who spearheaded these large companies, it’s usually just a handful of men who wielded enormous levels of power over the entire organization. They were demigods, who were believed to be capable of single-handedly leading the company through any crisis.

Why Leaders Within Bubbles Can’t Lead Agile, Democratic Organizations

Why Leaders Within Bubbles Can’t Lead Agile, Democratic Organizations

#Inspiration #Semco Style Institute #Semco Style

If someone had to describe a hotshot corporate executive in a game of Pictionary, what might they draw? A luxurious corner office? A dedicated parking spot? Or, a do-it-all assistant? And, they’d totally win the round because these are the symbols most associated with the top management of any organization. These privileges have become so intrinsic to the image of a corporate leader that it’s difficult to imagine one without them.

What Happens When Employees Choose Their Own Salaries

#Inspiration #Semco Style

The secrecy that surrounds what employees of an organization get paid is legendary in its power to create disengagement. In fact, a PayScale survey of over 71,000 employees proved to be quite eye-opening about the effect pay secrecy has on employee engagement. A whopping 82 percent of employees reported they would be okay with being underpaid as long as they knew why. Two-thirds of survey respondents felt their employer was not paying them the market rate, even though they claimed to do so. And a staggering 60 percent of employees who felt like they were underpaid reported they might quit their jobs soon.

The Story Of How A Telecom Giant Reinvented Itself Using Semco Style Principles

The Story Of How A Telecom Giant Reinvented Itself Using Semco Style Principles

#Inspiration #Case studies

Among the first occasions I implemented my training in the Semco Style principles was within a customer team at KPN, the biggest telecom company in Holland. The team was responsible for aggregating services created within KPN for a long-term client, UWV - a semi-governmental organization responsible for employment and social security in the Netherlands. The customer team was the first point of contact for UWV and the back office within KPN, and there were about 125 people performing various roles in this setting.

Four Things That Every Self-Managed Team Needs To Be Successful

#Inspiration #Semco Style

Imagine you work in an organization that’s in the twilight zone between traditional management and self-management. The company has decided to try out this new “wonder medicine” called self-management and you’re now suddenly responsible for your own goals and results. Feeling confused or maybe even anxious? You’re not alone. Many organizations that have started thinking of self-management as a new organizational mode, are doing so without really equipping their teams to handle the change. They either sack the complete management or say the managers need to transform into coaches.

The Importance Of Taking The Time To Introspect

The Importance Of Taking The Time To Introspect

#Inspiration #Semco Style Institute

This summer, I spent an entire month interacting with our team in Amsterdam through a range of activities and exercises. The idea was to take a step back and do a deep internal alignment and to come up with a clearer vision around our what, why and how. We wanted to identify our key initiatives, settle on a prioritization plan focussing our energies on coming up with a social contract and well-defined roles and responsibilities. We also created a master calendar that put a tentative date on all our key initiatives. As an organization, it was important for us to reflect upon why we exist, how we plan to impact the world with our ideas, what are our main initiatives, how we prioritize and deal with them in our daily lives.

Control Is Just An Illusion - Democracy Is The Real Thing

#Inspiration #Semco Style

We live in the age of information and companies, irrespective of their size, are increasingly becoming aware of how workplace democracy can actually be good for business. Millennials, who are beginning to dominate workforces across the globe, are gravitating towards jobs that offer big money like corporate companies and a democratic setting like startups. However, the large companies that are trying to embrace democratic principles, aren’t doing so on the whim of their Millennial workforce alone. The marketplace today is highly fluid, with nimble, tech-savvy customers who won’t think twice before jumping ships.

Love, Intimacy And Vulnerability At The Workplace

Love, Intimacy And Vulnerability At The Workplace

#Training #Interviews #Inspiration #Event #Semco Style

Last year this time, I was going through a personal crisis and my decision to take up the Semco Style Institute training gave me a language with which to express what I already knew to be true. When I began my training in September, 2016, my wife, Christine, was suffering from secondary breast cancer. She passed away in December that year. What I did in the process of saying goodbye to my wife and closing her earthly life made it amply clear to me that I needed to trust in us as a partnership. Together, we needed to find a way that was right for her and for me and I was sure that I needed to be transparent about my feelings and thoughts. I used to have these big arguments with her because I loved her - the fact that she was dying didn’t restrict me from talking about the things that were important to me. This kind of transparency helped us discuss things like my life after she’d died. She would ask me, “How are you going to lead your life after I’m dead?” or she’d say, “John, I want you to be happy again when I die.”

Why People Love Old-School, Hierarchical Organizations

#Inspiration

If being democratic in your leadership style is the rational way to create a successful organization, then why isn’t it the norm? Instead, why are democratic, transparent organizations the exception? There must be a reason why people and companies prefer to stick with industrial-era practices and working styles and it’s important to explore those reasons when you want to advocate change. For, how can you show them they need to change if you don’t understand their reasons for not changing?

Small Organizations Big On Democracy

Small Organizations Big On Democracy

#Inspiration

When you think of smaller organizations, particularly startups, the image that pops into your head is probably one of young people in informal set ups, making decisions together. Everybody at the table is equal because every idea counts and the discussion is usually unhindered by agenda. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any working hierarchy in smaller organizations - there are still the people who founded the company and those who joined the team later on. However, their hierarchy is more fluid because that’s what works in their fast-moving environment, where ideas need to freeflow and people need to be given the flexibility to deliver results in their own way. Simply put, smaller organizations are inherently democratic, with co-workers feeling safe enough to be honest with each other and with themselves.

Five Strategic Reasons Why Democratic Leadership is The Future of Work

Five Strategic Reasons Why Democratic Leadership is The Future of Work

When people discuss changing their organizations and incorporating democratic leadership styles, they talk about it like it’s a goal in itself. But, in reality, it isn’t a goal, but the means to achieving something else. The world is constantly evolving and so are the kind of businesses that thrive in today’s highly tech-infused world. If your business needs to survive well into the future, old fashioned management ideas won’t work anymore. There are strategic advantages to choosing to lead your company and your employees in a democratic way. And I’d like to share with you five of the most important reasons why you should embrace this style of leadership.

Grow as a leader with LeadWise Academy

Grow as a leader with LeadWise Academy

We’re excited to share with you a course from our sister company LeadWise. LeadWise is an online hub for leaders to get practical tools and education to lead in a more human way. They’ve partnered with pioneering entrepreneurial collective Enspiral to bring you a new learning experience, the LeadWise Academy Practical Self-Management Intensive. The Intensive is a 5-week online immersive, where you’ll join like-minded leaders from all over the world on a journey to transform how you lead through the practices and tools of self-management.

Joining the 4-hour workweek and the 7-day weekend

#Interviews #Ricardo Talks

Tim Ferriss (1977) is a self-experimenter and bestselling author, best known for 'The 4-Hour Workweek', which has been translated into 40+ languages. Newsweek calls him "the world's best human guinea pig," and The New York Times calls him "a cross between Jack Welch and a Buddhist monk." Ricardo Semler (1959) is theCEO and majority owner of Semco Partners, a Brazilian company best known for its radical form of industrial democracy and corporate re-engineering

Get in Line – or why you don’t need strategy

#Inspiration

Extreme stakeholder alignment is the 4th pillar principle of the Semco Style roadmap, and naturally builds on what has already been accomplished in the first three stages. At this point, the organization is ready to align its interests with internal and external stakeholders: employees, partners, counsellors, investors, society, customers, suppliers and government representatives. Alignment creates a setting where these stakeholders have the opportunity to actively participate in the decisions of the organization that might affect them. This is the stage where finding common ground and process optimization merge into a powerful operating style.

Do it yourself

Do it yourself

#Inspiration

The title of this article is not as much an expression of somebody who doesn’t want to be bothered, but more an encouragement for you to take responsibility for your own fate. In the Semco Style roadmap, self-management comes into play when trust and reducing control have been established and have prepared the playing field. The conditions provided by the first two stages allow teams to organize themselves in such a way that they find the best ways to achieve their goals.

Kennis maken met: Azwin Ressang - Semco Style Certified Consultant

Kennis maken met: Azwin Ressang - Semco Style Certified Consultant

Een deze korte introductie vertel Azwin over wie hijs is, wat hij doet, wat zijn persoonlijke missie is en hoe hij het verschil wil maken. 

The Speed of Trust

The Speed of Trust

#Inspiration

"The world is changing very rapidly, the world is dominated by exponential trends, and businesses are turned upside down." The only way to keep up with these disrupted forces is trust. And that is why Trust is the first pivotal principle that we teach at the Semco Style Institute. This principle is very simple: the people we work with make very difficult and complex decisions every day in their daily, personal lives: about raising children, buying a house, And we trust them to make the right decisions. Then why can’t we trust them to make the right decisions in their professional lives? 

Ricardo Semler: Radical wisdom for a company, a school, a life

Ricardo Semler: Radical wisdom for a company, a school, a life

#Talks #Inspiration

What if your job didn’t control your life? Brazilian CEO Ricardo Semler practices a radical form of corporate democracy, rethinking everything from board meetings to how workers report their vacation days (they don’t have to). It’s a vision that rewards the wisdom of workers, promotes work-life balance — and leads to some deep insight on what work, and life, is really all about. Bonus question: What if schools were like this too?

Ricardo Semler: The radical boss who proved that workplace democracy works

Ricardo Semler: The radical boss who proved that workplace democracy works

#Inspiration

The management style that Ricardo Semler evolved through decades of experimentation at Brazilian firm Semco proved to be massively successful. The company defied gravity with the rate of its growth, even when the rest of the country was suffering savage recession. And yet, for all that, it is an example that few have attempted to follow. Why? Because it mostly revolves around management giving up control. 

The WorldBlu List

The WorldBlu List

The WorldBlu List of Freedom-Centered Workplaces™ 2016 is comprised of organizations from a diversity of industries including technology, manufacturing, healthcare, education, retail and professional services, with a combined annual revenue of over $15 billion. These organizations include public, private, non-profit, and educational institutions. They range in size from five to 65,000 employees and are located across the US, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Haiti, Romania, and New Zealand.

Forget Empowerment—Aim for Exhilaration

Forget Empowerment—Aim for Exhilaration

There is no doubt that there is tremendous goodwill, not to mention countless exciting experiments, when it comes to making the world of work more deeply human—designed to promote more freedom, equity, and engagement, and passion. Why, then, can those words sound so cheap and drained of their juice when we hear them repeated over and over by leaders of all stripes? Probably because they’re spoken so much more often than they’re ever enacted.

Brazil's Semco, the caring capitalist.

Brazil's Semco, the caring capitalist.

If Bill Gates says it, you believe it.

The 5 Advantages of a Democratic Workplace

The 5 Advantages of a Democratic Workplace

In my last article I talked about the 7 Trends Making Businesses More Democratic including the Internet, expectations of Generations X and Y, new business standards in a Post-Enron age, political transitions, humanity’s search for meaning, corporate social responsibility, and the birth of what I call “lifestyle democracy.” These trends are making democracy in the workplace inevitable, but what about the benefits? Can democracy – rather than a traditional top-down model of business – really be more advantageous? Here are five reasons why I believe it can:

Ricardo Semler Won’t Take Control

Ricardo Semler Won’t Take Control

The Brazilian CEO and best-selling author transformed his pump plant into a model of participative management, and launched his company on 14 straight years of double-digit growth.

Ricardo Semler: Creating Organizational Change Through  Employee Empowered Leadership

Ricardo Semler: Creating Organizational Change Through Employee Empowered Leadership

Through his unique leadership style, Ricardo Semler, President & CEO of Semco S.A., a Brazilian manufacturing company, has literally redefined the concept of employee empowered leadership. At 20, the youngest graduate of the Harvard Business School, Semler is known around the world for championing his employee-friendly management style. Researched from primary sources including his best selling books, Maverick: The Success Story Behind The World’s Most Unusual Workplace (1993 ) first published in 1988 as Turning the Tables, and THE SEVEN-DAY WEEKEND: Changing the Way Work Works (2004), as well as two articles he authored in the Harvard Business Review, Managing Without Managers, (1989) and Why My Employees Still Work For Me (1994), this paper provides readers with insights on how to get beyond those who say that organizations are too large and/or too bureaucratic to change. In addition, it provides concrete examples of how his company routinely ignores the rules while at the same time creating a new paradigm for creative leadership and organizational effectiveness.