Myth: there is no career progression in a self-managing organisation

Lisa Gill
2 min readMar 24, 2022

Many people assume there is no career progression in self-managing organisations.

When we take away the pyramidal hierarchy and the career ladder, does everyone just become equal? How does anyone get promoted if there are no bosses?

Career progression exists in self-managing organisations, it just looks different.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every self-managing organisation I’ve encountered does career progression differently.

At Ian Martin Group, for example, they have developed a ‘Role Advice Process’ where people can grow and evolve their role by gathering advice from colleagues and putting forward a proposal for a consent-based decision.

When we assume career progression no longer exists in a bossless organisation, we rob people of the opportunity to develop and the organisation of valuable leadership that wants to emerge.

Ditch the ladder and create something that works for you.

Creating your own version of a career development process requires imagination. I think that’s why people so often get stuck on this topic because we are so accustomed to the old paradigm.

So here are some tips to help you on your path.

Tip #1: Gather examples. Learn about how other self-managing organisations do it; not to copy, necessarily, but to get inspiration.

Tip #2: Explore needs. Spend some time in dialogue about different people’s needs when it comes to career development. Every organisation will be different.

Tip #3: Don’t just talk, try. Create a prototype and try it. Agree a timeframe in which to have a retrospective and then iterate.

Career progression doesn’t have to be a ladder or nothing. There are so many possibilities in between. Find yours!

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Lisa Gill

Founder of Reimaginaire, trainer and coach with Tuff Leadership Training, host of Leadermorphosis podcast.