Switching from a hierarchical company to self-organization often feels liberating and empowering and makes people enthusiastic about their work. But self-organization without a boss brings a different set of challenges and even one's own enthusiasm can be one of them. When there is no boss to check on you (or break your enthusiasm from time to time ;) ), you have to design a different way to care for yourself and your development. Especially in remote-work settings this can be a challenge. A buddy system can help people look out for each other, support each other and help each other grow.
What steps to take for the practice
The idea of a buddy system is that everyone has one colleague, whose specific task is to check on them and support them in any way necessary. A Bud Spencer for everyone.
Here is one way to set this up:
Have a buddy lottery, where every person gets a buddy by chance. Do this throughout the whole organization, so that new connections are made.
Leave it up to the pairs, how they want to design the buddyship: how often they meet or speak, what topics they want to discuss, how the buddy helps. The only rule is that the buddy should look out for the other person, support them, help them care for themselves and help them grow. How to do that is up to them.
There are no buddy teams: You should not be the buddy for the person that is your own buddy. This way it’s always clear who supports who and you create even more connections within your organization.
Draw new buddies every year. This way people get more inspiration, more connections and if two people do not match well, they will get a new chance next year.
You can combine the buddy system with other development practices that you use: The buddy should support the colleague in realizing their development goals.
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