A coach’s experience in a self-managing company

Myrjam Gerritsen

Self-management and self-managing teams are an invention from the eighties. One of the founders, De Sitter, called it “socio-technology”. Nowadays we call it social innovation. That said, once you take a closer look you see little innovation and mostly the wish from the individual to shape their daily tasks and work. Minus the interference of a manager or supervisor instructing you how to do your job.

A coach’s experience in a self-managing company

A manager generally does not add anything to this, apart from the frameworks. That is the only management or guidance necessary for self-management to be a success. When people aren’t being steered, they often get to work with tasks they enjoy doing. We tend to make assumptions regarding the added value of this towards customers, clients or the internal organisation. To support self-management towards its greatest potential it’s key to offer teams direction by setting goals and sharing a vision. Where are we going? And what is your specific role in this?

Frameworks and goals

I recently started as a team coach at Effectory, an organisation which, as you might already know, doesn’t have managers. The teams work with complete self-management. My role as a coach is serving. Serving the teams and deciding what’s needed per situation. What stands out to me is how teams need frameworks and goals. Aside from that, I see that new employees require coaching with regards to getting the hang of self-management.

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How do you do that? Taking full responsibility and shaping your work without somebody telling you what to do. In cases like these I tend to observe from the sidelines. Watch how the team picks things up and whether or not they support each other enough. In most cases things go well. Colleagues become buddies and train each other. They inform each other of the norms and values that come into play when dealing with self-management. The help that I offer often concerns collaboration, decision-making, distribution of tasks, one-on-one coaching and giving the team targeted feedback.

Letting it happen

I find it difficult to sit back and do nothing. Letting it happen and letting the team try it themselves first. It’s so easy to chime in and say “I would do it this way”. But I wait and consciously give employees room. Naturally, it’s sometimes important that I intervene. To enthuse or get them thinking or taking action.


Finding the right balance between coaching too much or too little is tricky. What works and what not? And how do I shape my own self-management? Which goals and frameworks aid my work? It’s a new adventure at a great company.