It can be difficult when you lose a great employee.

For Tim Rettig, Founder, President, and CEO of Intrust IT, the departure of an employee spurred his decision to put a Holacracy model into place after years of considering it.

“That decision was prompted by his departure, and now, he’s actually returned to the company,” says Tim.

Tim goes on to explain that if the organization hadn’t implemented Holacracy, it would have been difficult for them to absorb the employee back into the organization. “Before Holacracy, we would have recreated the traditional hierarchical structure and promoted somebody into his position. Then there wouldn’t have been another place for him to rejoin the organization so quickly,” says Tim. (The employee’s departure was just a year prior.)

But because Holacracy is more flexible in that leaders can move roles and the work around more easily, it made it possible for Intrust IT to invite him to rejoin the organization.

‘Getting Out of the Way’

While it’s not going to be a fit for every organization, Holacracy is a model that works for Intrust IT because of structural, process, and decision-making factors that the company faces as an IT provider that puts its people before profits.

Having a structure based on distributed authority and self-organized, purpose-driven teams helps Tim “get out of the way” as a leader. It also empowers employees to make decisions on an individual and team basis, rather than concentrating decision-making authority at the top.

Equally important, the shift to the new structure has given the organization agility to quickly adapt to changing conditions—such as employee resources and customer needs.

When a graphic artist at Intrust IT decided she wanted to spend more time pursuing her love of art, she told Tim her plans for getting a studio and spending less of her time at the company.

She still wanted to work for the company, but she was hoping she could also spend more of her time pursuing her passion.

The process to take work away from the graphic artist was simple, thanks to steps Intrust IT has taken while embracing the new operating model. “We were able to look at the roles assigned to her. Just like with anyone, you could see specific things she was accountable for and the things she had control over. In this case, it was easy for us to reduce her hours and take those roles and assign them to other people in the organization.”

The way work gets done in the company is more visible than ever, giving Intrust IT the ability to adapt to these kinds of unexpected changes.

Subsequently, after the graphic artist spent a summer at her studio, she decided she missed working around people. She craved getting back into the office, and wanted to come back at her former capacity.

Thanks to the clarity of roles and processes, Intrust IT leaders looked at what they could add to her workload. “We had plenty of work to do, it was a matter of moving those roles around the organization.” In the end, she was able to come back and fully join the team.

Focusing on Employee Growth

In talking with Tim, it’s clear that the focus isn’t the management structure itself; the focus is providing ways and opportunities for employees to grow and thrive. “This is a structure that gives employees the ability to take on other roles, even in other departments. They now have the ability to request new responsibilities more easily, and actually have input into how those roles are defined and created.”

In the quest for nurturing employee engagement, Intrust IT puts an emphasis on how employees can develop, think like entrepreneurs, and how they can forge their own path within the company. “We understand that many of the employees we hire specifically choose to come work for us because they don’t want to be pigeon-holed into ‘just’ a technical support role.”

Business Ownership Succession

“I’ve been at the helm in one way or another for 25 years and I’ve had some good growth over the years, but I feel like I’m one of the limiting factors in the growth of the organization and its capabilities,” says Tim.

He feels the changes he’s making in his company—open books, the Great Game of Business, Holacracy, and becoming an ESOP—are going to be steps that allow team members to grow into a position where they can do their best work.

“This is what’s going to let me get out of the way of some of the talented people I’ve got on my team and let them contribute more and make more improvements to the organization than what I would be able to do up at the CEO/Owner level,” adds Tim. “It’s about creating an ownership culture.”

Improve Your Leadership with a Systems View

Design a systems view of your organization and run your business more smoothly—while empowering your employees in the process. Aileron will host The W. Edwards Deming Institute and two Deming experts who will facilitate a two and a half day workshop focusing on leading with a systems view. Don’t miss out on the opportunity for you and your team to create a visible platform that will improve how work gets done.