Who is accountable?
“Surely there must be someone that is held accountable if the team’s result isn’t satisfactory?”
“Everybody’s responsibility is nobody’s responsibility”.
“I like to be able to send complaining parents to the principal instead of having to deal with them myself.”
“Who should I call in a team when there’s no boss?”
“How do I know what to do? Who will help me prioritize my work?”
Self management is not a new concept, but most of us haven’t got any experience working in a totally flat organisation, with power distributed to teams, and dynamic self-organised roles. We are used to hierarchies and static, formal roles. It is no wonder that there are many questions and to some degree, reluctance.
So, let me answer the questions above! First, the whole team is held accountable. Each role has different responsibilities but for the team’s total result the whole team is accountable, both in good times and in bad. It’s really only strange when you are too used to individual performance management. But with individual performance management comes competition, not helping each other out, keeping power instead of giving, work-place politics etc. With team performance management comes cooperation, supporting each other, sharing thoughts and ideas and lifting each other up.
In a Teal organisation there is shared accountability but not (necessarily) shared responsibility. Say I’m good at digital marketing, then maybe I’ll take on that role, and in that role I’m responsible for keeping the website and social media going. And if I’m good at talking with the distressed parents in our school I might take on that role, or it might be a role that is rotated between all team members. The same can be said for question four above – Who should I call? – it might be someone that takes on the role of being the team’s contact person, or it might be a role that is rotated between team members. Remember that information is as distributed as power in a Teal organisation, there is total transparency, and everyone should be able to answer the questions a boss does in a hierarchical organisation.
The last question – “How do I know what to do? Who will help me prioritize my work?” – has more to do with self-leadership; how do I lead and manage myself within the team. This is a question sometimes posed by people that are used to having a micro-managing boss. Most people flourish under the autonomy, freedom and creativity of a Teal self-managed team, but some feel insecure. These people need help to reclaim their self-confidence and this can be practiced, and is no reason for sticking with hierarchies. Many are the organisational developers and transformational coaches and leaders that have helped people climb the responsibility ladder.
In a Teal school teams are accountable and teachers/learning guides are responsible for the learners they guide in learning and helping develop as human beings. They are the professionals who have come into their role out of choice and have the education and experience to make decisions with regards to the needs of the children they see before them.
Another question, or rather statement, we often meet is this: “Learners can’t be set to self-manage and take responsibility for their own learning, they would just choose to play and learn nothing, we need to teach them (everything we through generations have discovered being good to know)”.
As you know if you’ve followed our earlier blogs and social media posts, we talk about Wholeness, Evolutionary purpose and Self-management on two levels in a Teal school, both regarding the teacher/learning guide teams and for the kids. As with the example above with the micro-managed employees needing to reclaim their self-confidence, kids in a traditional school loses part of their natural drive to solve problems, find solutions through learning and exploring, and both curiosity and creativity decreases. In that system, teachers find they need to tell kids what to do and micro-manage them. In another system, which is not based on authoritarian grounds, this is not needed. In a Teal school kids are much less likely to fall down the responsibility ladder to begin with. Kids can take responsibility, and are generally very willing to cooperate with adults they have a good relationship with. Sometimes kids make mistakes, of course, but with the right guidance they learn from them without hurting their inner self.
So yes, they will need, and get, guidance and mentoring, of course. And most or all nations have rules and regulations based on expectations of what is necessary to be learned. To meet these goals a teacher can either plan how to teach it, teach, repeat, give memory tests etc. or let the kids self-manage their learning and guide them towards learning areas and subjects that are needed according to the curriculum, when they are ready for it, and rather with goals and challenges instead of micro-managing.
How this is done is something that the teachers in the Teal school has power over. They decide, when considering all aspects, including Purpose and Wholeness (i.e. they would not decide on anything that diminish well-being, autonomy or meaningfulness for the students) and if needed they seek advice from experts, as well as the children, in the process.
Distributed power needs team accountability to really work, since as soon as someone is a bit more accountable, that person will want a bit more power.
Learn more by watching Frédéric Laloux in this video: