I am both excited and scared. In August we have a Workshop day to recruit the first four members of a new kind of home care team, inspired by the Buurtzorg model. The first team will be in Lytham St Anns in Lancashire, and the second team in Doncaster in the autumn.
The person specification is complete – and it is in the format of a one-page profile. We have called people Well-being Workers instead of carers, to emphasise that the role is to very different to a traditional carer. The job description is also very different. We explain that the team will be small (no more than 12 people), self-managing and flexible.

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One of the biggest challenges in social care is getting and keeping great staff. I am learning about different ways to recruit personal assistants (P.A.s). Two weeks ago I was part of an assessment day, supporting Jess to recruit personal assistants with her personal budget. This is what I have learned from Jess.

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Jennie launched her community enterprise on Sunday, with help from her family, her team and her Community Circle. Jennie has a personal budget, a mortgage, and her own team. She does not use words to speak and has autism. How can we make there story one of many?

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At a time when we see more shocking reports about how poor some home care services are, and the impact of the cuts, it can be hard to keep believing that we can do more, and do better. Better communication with families may just seem like the icing on the cake. Yet the longest research into happiness published recently confirmed what we knew; that relationships are central to happiness. Here are some ideas of how we can do this, and how organisations are taking this forward.

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Over the last month I have posted about why we were considering Teal, how we decided to ‘go Teal’ and our first meeting Tactical Meeting. The true test of any purported change is whether it makes any difference to people’s behaviour. This is what I have noticed over the last 3 weeks since we decided to become Teal.

How has my behaviour changed?

I have been trying to step back to make space for others to step up. I have not always managed this, and have apologised when I have got things wrong and gone back to the ways we used to work. I introduced a blue (tealish) swirl to my posts on Slack (our team communication app) to make it clear when I was consciously trying to act differently.

Ben emailed me about something he had committed to, a webinar on Groupsite. He was struggling to complete to the deadline because of a commitment to a customer. He contacted me to tell me and asked if it was OK to postpone the webinar. I said, “Yes, of course.” And then I stopped myself.

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Ben was behaving as if he was accountable to me, and not the team – and I had colluded with that. I quickly responded back that it was not my decision, and suggested he asked the team instead.

Michelle emailed me to ask if she could use some of Adam’s time to share some stories she has been working on with colleagues in Dumfries and Galloway. I simply emailed back with “Why are you asking me?”. In hindsight that might have sounded a bit sharp, and we went on to have a conversation reinforcing how everyone is able to use the team resources (like Adam) without asking my permission.

What am I noticing in other people?

The majority of our team communication takes place on Slack, and this is what I have noticed:

Being accountable to each other

Jo led on this with by posting how she was behind with a team commitment and wanted to let people know about this. She struck the perfect balance of being accountable, and not asking for sympathy as she shared the family reasons why it had been difficult to complete on time. Two other team members made similar posts about commitments that they had not been able to fulfil. In the past, either I would have spotted that these tasks had not been completed and individually contacted people, or people would have contacted me to let me know but not the team. This is a significant change.

I have also seen signs of people ramping up their personal accountability, reading and re-reading Reinventing Organisations. You know someone is serious about this when they read ‘Getting Things Done’ and buy a labeller!

The team is consciously changing their behaviour

Gill posted a question to the group that previously she would have just asked me.
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We’re developing a new approach to starting projects

Before Teal, all ideas for projects would have gone through me or been checked by me. Gill started one around train the trainers for person-centred thinking and invited people to join her.

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We’re debating our new way of working

Rob made thoughtful and challenging posts about Teal. It is so important that although we have made a decision, people express concerns and questions, and so this is a real positive.

Rob described himself as ‘jogging alongside the Teal train rather than leaping on board’ and shared a post about Zappos – a company that has adopted Holacracy – and shared some of the critical feedback about their experience. I couldn’t quite manage not being the first person to respond to this! That said, Emily also gave a clear response on how she saw decision-making around finances happening.

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Going further

We use Trello as a way to share progress on projects and we have a board with the BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals from the work of Jim Collins) of each of our leadership areas.

Gill asked about updating this and I said it was something we had done when we were still doing BHAGs, and questioned whether we still needed to keep it updated.

Going further would mean people changing things that I had done or set up – for example, Gill saying no we no longer need that Board, or asking the team about it, and then deleting it. I don’t think we are very far off that.

Next steps

Michelle will be doing the Holacracy practitioner course over the summer (as promised in my other blog) and four of us who are interested in Holacracy are starting coaching sessions with Susan Basterfield to help us embed our Teal practices further and confidently and competently introduce elements of Holacracy.

So, what are we learning?

We’re learning a lot.

We’re learning that moving to Teal means a real change for all team members in how we work together, lead projects and make decisions.

I’m learning that it’s important to be conscious of old behaviours, so I don’t slip into them without noticing.

Most of all, I’m learning that the team as a whole is embracing this change, and it’s having a positive effect on our accountability, commitment and decision-making process.

As I’ve read in another blog post, ‘The Future of Management is Teal’… and I’m excited to see where it takes us next.

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I am starting with a confession: I am not always a model student!

I attended an excellent course on Holacracy to experience the two types of meetings that are critical to being ‘powered by Holacracy’. These meetings are called the Tactical Meeting and the Governance meeting. The objective of the session was to introduce the meetings, not to feel that you could rush out and implement them. In fact if you want to be a Holacracy practitioner to use the process within your organisation, there’s a four and a half day course to go on.

I should know better than to rush on ahead. After all, I wouldn’t be too happy if someone watched an hour-long webinar on person-centred reviews and then decided that they were ready to facilitate the process without additional help! But I wanted to team to experience the Tactical Meeting, thought I could give it a go, and was confident that they would forgive me if I got it wrong. I’m not sure if the Holacracy folk will though!

Giving it a go

We were already well into our 2 day team meeting – about 3pm in the afternoon. We had voted on, and made the decision to commit to Teal. After lunch Jo led a session on person-centred outcomes. We were changing our process and poster based on what we had been learning over the last two years of supporting people to develop their own. After a short break, fuelled with wasabi peas (me) and chocolate and fruit (Emily had taken the ‘hospitality role’ for this team meeting and had provided wonderful treats) we were ready to experience the Tactical Meeting process.

The Tactical Meeting process is a way to ‘triage’ workplace tensions and quickly decide what the next step will be to move forward. A tension represents something in the gap between where we are now, and where we want to be. It could be a challenge, or equally something that we see we could do better. You can read the full process here.

I asked the team for suggestions of tensions, just in a couple of words. We quickly generated a list of eight tensions.

Here were some of them:

We looked at the list to see if we needed to look at any in a particular order, but none were dependent on each other, so we simply worked through the list.

In our current meeting format, the person who owns the issue (or tension in this case) would explain what it was and introduce the question that they wanted the team to help with. In the Tactical Meeting process, I simply asked the person who brought the tension, “What do you need?”. No background and explanation required – simply what do you need to address this tension.

What did we need?

Sometimes it was ideas. One team member wanted to know how other people were managing the size of our files on Dropbox. He learned who was only using it on the cloud, and I took an action away to reduce the number of duplicated Powerpoints in my ‘Keynotes’ folder.

For others, it was more about getting some support. Another team member needed help to write up detailed trainer notes, and the solution was simple, for two other team members to spend 40 minutes thinking this through with her at the team meeting. We simply scheduled that for the next day.

Another team member wanted ideas about what to do when they deliver a 2-day course that relies on people completing e-learning before they arrive, and four people have not completed it. We came up with a range of ideas, and actions that followed.

So did it work? 

Largely, yes. Above all, it was amazingly efficient. Ten agenda items were completed in 70 minutes.

We also asked everyone what they thought. Their reflections ranged from disciplined to brutal, from efficient to feeling on-the-spot when being asked what you need.

Someone made the important point that if I continued to facilitate these meetings, then I was effectively reinforcing again ‘business as usual’ rather than the change we are making towards self-management. The decision was for another member of the team to… attend the four and a half day course on Holacracy. So whilst I might not always be the perfect student, as a team we’ll get there in the end! Perhaps I don’t need to confess after all.

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