Holacracy: Why Employees Like Hierarchy | #leadership #peopleskills

Holocracy & Flat Organizations Reveal Human Truths

You would think that a holacracy, a truly flat organization with no tiers of management, would be every employee’s dream. It isn’t. Holacracy presents many challenges for employees. In fact, holacracy reveals why many employees like well-run hierarchy.

Holacracy: Image is blank field of snow.

Holacracy: Why Employees Like Hierarchy Image by Martin Beaumont via Flickr.

Image by Martin Beaumont via Flickr Creative Commons License.

Holacracy: What Employees Like About Hierarchy

Holacracy, like at Zappos and other lesser known companies, is revealing much about what many employees find so comfortable about traditional management structures. Some of these are surprising and others rather evident. The list holds great lessons for both styles of organization.

  1. In hierarchy, there is security. Holacracy feels scary and risky.
  2. In well-run hierarchy, there is clarity. In holacracy, everyone must clarify everything.
  3. In well-run hierarchy, decisions seem to happen more quickly. Holacracy feels time consuming and laborious.
  4. In hierarchy, influencing others and resolving conflict sits with management. In holacracy, employees face this challenge and without the helpful title of authority.
  5. In hierarchy, there is vertical career growth. The flatness of holacracy leaves many aspiring leaders flat. They must find a sense of worth in professional development and project achievements vs. titles.
  6. In hierarchy, management supposedly addresses egotistical and maverick behaviors. Without managers as buffers, all employees must handle this. It’s uncomfortable and challenging. It requires great people skills.
  7. Hierarchy and titles strengthen less courageous employees. I’ve witnessed employees resisting the wonderful leadership of a peer. They told the peer “we’re not strong like you.” The peer was promoted to being their leader and they followed without resistance. Organizational titles are the extra security blanket they love.
  8. In well-run hierarchy, employees can get things done through the management structure. In holacracy, employees must learn how to get things done other ways. They must develop and use skills to hit the bulls-eye without authority and formal power.

THE challenge for employees in holacracy:

In my workshops and coaching, we explore the people skills for great collaboration and teamwork. My next blog post will delve into these people skills for holacracy. In the meantime,

Your turn: What other challenges are there in holacracy?

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
10 Ways to Work With Immature Teammates
The Surprising Secret Within Every Great Communicator
9 People Skills Tips for Potent Influential Communication
People Skills Philosophy For Success With Others
7 Pleasures That Calm When Dealing w/ Toxic People

©2015 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.


Engage in people skills learning!

Let’s turn interaction obstacles into business success in leadership, teamwork, and customer service experience.

I invite your questions, welcome your wisdom, and look forward to working with you.
~Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

4 Responses to “Holacracy: Why Employees Like Hierarchy | #leadership #peopleskills”

  1. Daniel Buhr says:

    What a wonderful, fresh perspective on holocracy. Thanks, Kate!
    It isn’t a reduction of management that people seek. It’s an expansion of leadership. The problem comes when we mislead people into thinking that they have to be above a certain level on the pyramid to be a leader. Leadership is not a position and therefore there is no hierarchy of leadership. Organizational structure doesn’t determine whether or not you are a leader. It simply defines how you serve within the organization.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Daniel,
      Some people seek less hierarchy. Others find hierarchy comforting. I also like what you have added — that leaders emerge regardless of layers and levels.

      Tapping that talent is the road to success for any business!

      Many thanks for expanding this discussion.

  2. Thank you for this article on Holacracy Kate!
    I don’t know if you have experienced Holacracy, but in many ways it actually provides *more* structure and clarity of authority & accountability than traditional management hierarchies. In my experience, it’s not the case that Holacracy “requires everyone to develop influential people skills”. On the contrary, although it’s always useful to know how to influence your peers, because Holacracy clarifies who has authority over what, there is less need for politics in general. A good article written by Brian Robertson, pioneer of the method, can be found here: “Obsoleting Organizational Politics” https://medium.com/@h1brian/obsoleting-organizational-politics-2f4627d557d4
    You and your readers might also be interested in reading about “Five Misconceptions About Holacracy” often found in the media: https://medium.com/@h1alexia/five-misconceptions-about-holacracy-da84d8ba15e1

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Olivier,
      Always pleased when my readers expand the discussion and offer additional resources. Thank you for that. I do understand that holacracy clarifies a great deal. I still see that influencing skills are essential and needed. It’s not the same as politics. Influencing is all about working through things in a way that honors what is and is not defined.

      All the best to you!

KateNasser on Facebook KateNasser Blog KateNasser on Twitter KateNasser on LinkedIn KateNasser on Pinterest