I’ve written previously about a number of areas where we’ve got it so very wrong when it comes to the people experience in most organisations. Here, I want to share what and how we’re doing it differently at Mission Equality.

As ever, we are leaving no stone unturned in our quest to use ourselves as guinea pigs and reconfigure what it is to build a business based upon equity and equality for everyone. Here’s where we’ve got to so far when it comes to the ‘people experience’ in our company…

No More ‘Managing’ Performance…

We don’t manage peoples’ performance, we support and facilitate it. This hasn’t come without its unexpected challenges though…

When we had people join the team who didn’t come over from my former startup (where I’d already started significant work to do people experience differently), it was obvious that the impact of working in capitalist, colonialist work environments takes its toll and leaves a deeply entrenched and embedded mark.

While the ‘ask’ and challenge we set for our new folks sounded at first like music to their ears, when it came to it, they struggled…

We asked them to ‘think outside the box’, to ‘start from a blank canvas’, to engage in all the ‘blue sky thinking’ they’d ever dreamed of. What transpired was…they couldn’t. People are so steeped in the mindset of capitalist rules and the cage is so rigid that more flexible thinking requires more time to unlearn the rigidity.

On top of that, the desperate pressure to perform – to come out of the gate and impress, to start strong – didn’t drive or fuel creativity, it suppressed it.

Giving people time – what we call a ‘decolonising work’ period of between 1-3 months – gives folks the necessary time and space to begin to unlearn the nasty habits perpetuated by capitalism, patriarchy and colonialism.

We don’t need to manage people to perform at Mission Equality; when we give folks the freedom to do so and put in place scaffolding for them to leverage this freedom (because in the first instance it’s scary – like taking the training wheels off or removing the L plate – and the world becomes your oyster!), they ‘perform’ to their potential, no longer shackled by the constraints of rigid, controlled, spoon-fed environments.

No More ‘Managing’ People…

We don’t manage our people at all at Mission Equality.

They are – we are – all adults…they/we are perfectly capable of self managing; what that means and looks like is trusting them to know themselves, to know what works best for them, to know what helps them work and be at their best and to facilitate them to do this.

In practice, it looks like a totally flexible work schedule – work when you want, don’t when you don’t. It looks like understanding the overall goals of the company and being given the freedom to chart a path towards it. It looks like the trust and freedom to ‘manage’ yourself.

No Need To ‘Improve Productivity’…

We have deadlines at Mission Equality or, more accurately, we have targets and timeframes – and these usually remain loose, flexible and moveable.

We will never stick to a self-imposed, arbitrary deadline if it comes at the expense of the health and wellbeing of the people responsible for meeting that deadline. Even if we’ve promised something to someone (even a client), unless it is literally a matter of life or death, the deadline can and will be moved.

So we don’t need to ‘improve productivity’ as some exercise to get more out of our people than they can and are willing to give; they each know their goals, what the output is and what needs to be created and produced. And they do it, in spades.

No Benchmarking Of Salaries & Benefits…

Our goal – as we generate a sustainable income – is to pay everyone a liveable salary, no matter what role they’re doing and where they live.

The benchmark for ‘liveable’ that we use? What’s a generous salary for folks to live comfortably on, in even the most expensive cities in the world? And can we make this flexible to adjust to changing needs across the team?

The answers we came up with:

  • We think most folks should be able to live comfortably on around £8,000/month (c. $10,000) for a 20-hour work week.
  • Our long term goal is to have a pot with which we can help folks pay off any debts they have; debt repayments often prevent folks from ever getting ahead even when their take-home salary is solid.
  • We will give folks the ability to select their monthly salary – from an agreed scale, equal for everyone – according to need.

We also have a ‘Reparations & Equity Pay’ policy in place when it comes to paying our people; this means the Black, Brown & Global Majority team members all receive 30% more than their white counterparts. This covers both historical reparations and current reparations, with the acknowledgement of the additional emotional labour Global Majority folks have to do to account for the racial harm they experience daily, often – even if unknowingly – at the hands of their white colleagues.

When it comes to time off, our company policy is for people to take what they need, when they need it. Again, operating from trust means we trust our team to know what’s needed, to know what needs to be produced, created and delivered and to manage themselves and their work time/time off around this.

Leading From A Paradigm Of Trust & Freedom…

Our expectation – with a flat structure and ‘equal’ role titles – is that everybody is a leader (first and foremost of themselves) and that we each lead from a paradigm of trust and freedom – instead of power and control. In practice, this means we:

  • Rarely have to ‘check up’ on each other to see what folks are up to and what they’re working on; we have various mechanisms in place for us all to share our current work, goals and support requests.
  • Trust we’ll each seek the support we need from whomever we choose across the team (and outside of it) should we need it, for work purposes and other/personal aspects too.

This approach to the people experience is transformative; it yields everything leadership and management teams hope to see in a workforce – and instead of being extractive, it’s nurturing, nourishing and puts the human back into human resources.

If you’d like to learn how to lead – yourself and others – from this new paradigm, find out more about the Mx of Equality Business & Leadership programme here.

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