Merit Increase in a self-managed group. Experiment 1: Best Employee

We did it, we removed hierarchy and managers, we are now all equal. Great.

However, as you may already know, most content in this blog refers to a self-managed office within the context of a bigger, hierarchical organisation, our self-management can only get so far, but still, pretty fun.

Before we realise, is that time of the year when the “bigger company” asks us to submit our proposals for promotions and salary increases. There used to be a clear step-by-step process for this, centralised through the managers. With no managers, what do we do now?

To be honest, we didn’t pay much attention to this and caught us by surprise, the deadline was around the corner and we had to find a formula very quickly and send out our proposals to corporate. We decided to run a simple voting.

voting

The process was simple, every employee could fill in a ballot entering the name of the 3 employees they thought to deserve a promotion/raise. Each employee could vote only once, votes were anonymous and hence they could vote for themselves. The name on the first position would get 3 points, the name on the second position 2 points and the name on the third positions 1 point. Next to each name we needed to enter the reasons why we are proposing that employee.

At the end of the day, we proceeded to the scrutiny, counting all the votes in front of anybody who wanted to witness it.

The results were simple, we added up all the points and produced a ranking with the top 10 employees. That is the list that would be submitted to higher management for their consideration, they would still have the final word. The full list was available for anybody to see upon request.

A few days after this process was completed, we ran a retrospective about this method, and these are some things that came up:

What worked

  • Great progress consolidating self-management, for the better or worse, people were more in control than ever when it comes to deciding who outperformed. To trust them with such a sensitive topic, was consistent and giving a clear message.
  • People were pretty happy with the results. People at the top of the list were highly respected and made sense to most.
  • Corporate was also happy. They had a list of candidates where they could still apply their own rules, based on current salaries, seniority, recent promotions, etc.

What didn’t work so well

  • Many people shared that 3 candidates weren’t enough. They had more people in mind that deserve recognition and they would have liked to include more names in their vote.
  • Around ten people weren’t voted by anybody and others got very few points. Since there was only feedback given to people voted, there was nothing for the rest to work with and improve. Additional feedback initiatives were necessary for people to find out why they got so few or no votes.
  • This happened at the end of the year and we know this is not ideal. People tend to reward more recent behaviour and forgets about great work done earlier during the year.
  • People followed different criteria, which can be healthy but also confusing. There were some vague guidelines about what things to consider when selecting your candidates but still many people expressed very different approaches to their voting and that didn’t help towards a unified culture we wanted to create where behaviour is most important than results.

In conclusion, as a first attempt, it was a success but it clearly showed some flaws to be improved. In any case, it was very easy to set up and improvise so no excuse for not trying!

Wanna see what we did next? Check out Experiment 2

 

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