Hiring people who might be open to sociocracy

In the recent Schools Community of Practice, we talked about how difficult it can be to hire into sociocratic organizations when there is a lack of people in the local community specifically trained in, interested in, or even aware of sociocracy. I’m interested to hear what kind of screening questions or criteria people have used successfully to find people who are open to sociocracy, and who have proven ability to learn sociocracy.

I’ve looked for people who question or are critical of authoritarian and top-down systems, and people who have a collaborative approach. I think the core values alignment is most important, and a willingness to learn. How to measure that? @brad.sitzer

Anecdotally, one correlation I’ve found is that people who are fans of Star Trek are very successful in adopting sociocracy. But why?? :slight_smile:


Hahah, I actually think I agree. Maybe it’s because we’re all dreaming of a different universe order?

Yes, I am curious too how others go about that. It’s the one place where SoFA has it easy!

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I have also had this experience, but it’s not the sociocracy part that’s been the biggest problem in my experience. It’s an element but not the largest stumbling block.

I have found that sociocratic organizations are usually also community organizations and nonprofits or have no legal entity. The barriers to hiring I’ve experienced are usually interest in the community or sociocracy but lack of skills or willingness to do the work.

Sociocracy For All is currently struggling with this very issue. We have been budgeting to hire people, but haven’t managed to find them because of various barriers.

Strategies I’ve found useful include:

  1. creating “pathways” into the organization which include gradual progressive steps. The entry level positions are often volunteer, or easier positions, and then you train and scout from there. It takes times, sometimes months or years to stumble on someone who has the right balance of: interest and commitment in the community, availability to work at whatever pay rate the organization can afford, etc. However, this is also important for succession planning, because if someone like the director or other less entry level positions suddenly needed to stop for some reason, it’s good to have a pool of people who are already at least aware of what’s happening. IMO this is a must and baseline. Most people who enter these entry level positions may not wind up staying with the organization - for instance volunteers, or entry level paid workers. However if even 10 or 20% do, then you wind up growing a team.

  2. creating clear job postings and posting them. It’s one thing to identify that you need more people, it’s another thing to put them out there!

  3. expect to train them on the decision making method. Do ongoing implementation training. This is exactly where SoFA’s services shine! SoFA has Empowered Learning Circles and classes that individuals can attend for learning sociocracy basics. Even people who have been practicing for years should do ongoing education. I’ve seen organizations who practiced sociocracy for years atrophy and although they may claim to use sociocracy they lack fundamental elements like: the use of circles, double links, and regular role selections/reviews/feedback processes. Self Governance is an ongoing practice, and nobody is going to do it for you!
    The great thing about this, is: they don’t need to know sociocracy to be hired! However they or you need to pay for their intro classes and training in some way. Depending on your organization how that burden is handled may differ.

  4. Having a clear onboarding process, job, etc. that includes training and ongoing support is key for success. It’s amazing how long it can take to train someone, and I’m finding there are many ways it can go sideways. in Sociocracy for All, we certainly find people struggling with being placed into leadership roles before they are ready, part of that has to do with the ambiguity created by not having a pre-exisiting system or any top down structure. Sometimes new people are asked to create the system, and not everyone is up for that. Some people need more support than others and clarity about it.

  5. Screen for self starter-leader types where that’s needed. Some jobs are already setup and they just need to get trained and step into the role. Other jobs - and this is often the case with self organized organizations involve creating your own job, being your own boss in various ways and grappling with the unknown. In your interview process, you can asses how able to do that people are. entrepreneurial experience is a good indicator. Really, participating in a self organized organization is like being an entrepreneur in a certain way! Though the more mature the organization, the less that’s the case. However many sociocracy organizations are still in the start-up phase in some way… but also, since it’s such a dynamic system, in a way they are perpetually in a startup phase!

Those are some initial thoughts from my experience exclusively with nonprofit and community sociocratic organizations.


Haha, interesting thought on Star Trek. I’m not a Star Trek watcher so does that mean I’m doomed in our sociocracy adoption? I do find myself drawn to movies/books that draw attention to the brokenness of the systems (financial, education etc) we find ourselves in and resistance movements in different forms that are trying to reform/refunction/recreate these systems.

Our person we hired in Jan this year has quit this month, so I’m going into a hiring process now. It is hard to articulate the challenges we face in Africa. It is very different to a Western/Global North context.

We don’t have funding to pay anyone so we have found a trusted person who is willing to volunteer her time to lead Grace Cafe in this way. But in many ways the kids will need to lead things too. My time in Jan will be spent coaching the volunteer on the education philosophy, decision-making (I’ve done some facilitator training with her on sociocracy this year), fundraising and more.

PS: Our country, South Africa, shuts down after 16 Dec. I know that is weird for US people :slight_smile:
I’m heading on a Dec summer break till early Jan.

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Have a good break!, @brad.sitzer