Facilitating growth by giving people wings
Marbles opts for unbossing with Hifluence
Communication agency Marbles is no stranger to working according to the principles of unbossing. And yet, things didn’t always go smoothly. ‘This crazy jump into the deep end with Hifluence is just what we needed,’ says company founder Tom Herrijgers.
Four times a year, the 17-person-strong Marbles team goes away on a team-building event to brainstorm about the company. ‘It’s when, instead of working for customers, we put our heads together for the company,’ says Tom Herrijgers. ‘This year, we chose the Unbossing Experience programme with Hifluence to continue down the path of self-management. An unforgettable experience.’
Self-management isn’t new to Marbles. Right from the company’s foundation in 2001, CEO Tom Herrijgers has motivated the team to work and make decisions independently. ‘To me, the CEO in my title stands for Coach and Entrepreneurial Officer, that says it all. Our employees are their own boss. They choose when they want to take their holidays and how long for. There are no departments, with the team dividing sales, finance and HR tasks among themselves.’
Marbles encountered the classic pitfalls of self-management along the way. ‘On the one hand, I’m still taking on too much myself and on the other hand, people still lack the confidence to resolve enough issues themselves,’ says Tom Herrijgers. ‘Together with Hifluence, we explored why this is the case. We dissected everything. Where do we, as a company, want to go? What does the team need to make decisions? Where do we fall short?’ “
An important part of the programme is to draw up a future state. Where does Marbles want to be in three years’ time? ‘In 2023, we aim to have 70 employees,’ says Tom Herrijgers. ‘This kind of fast growth, in a healthy way, is only possible if you are really unbossed. When people are confident enough to make decisions, the company progresses more quickly. By giving people wings, we facilitate our growth. Unbossing is the missing link. Before, we were driving with the handbrake on.’
‘Self-management isn’t about letting people work from home more often,’ stresses Nick Van Langendonck, the instructor of this Hifluence course. ‘It’s about creating clear frameworks and responsibilities. At the end of the ride, the company has a basic code available to them that sets out ambitions and responsibilities. The connection that is formed between people during the five-day team-building event is the key to success on the path towards self-management.’
‘It’s amazing how energising such a week is,’ says Hanna Verhelst, who has worked as a copywriter at Marbles for three years now. ‘It was great to hear that we are on the right track and useful to find out what our blind spots were. There was no sugar-coating, and that’s exactly what we needed. It was sometimes hard, but it felt right because people were speaking from the heart. Open and honest.’.
Marbles is seeing the first concrete results. ‘So much has been set in motion thanks to the programme with Hifluence,’ says Tom Herrijgers. ‘We are doing away with stale meetings. We have given the teams full ownership of how they want to spend their budgets. We outsource activities that people don’t feel confident taking on . The programme wasn’t just a series of non-committal chats. We set key results, which we evaluate every three months going forward.’.
Room for emotion
The programme came just after the lockdown had been lifted, when colleagues were able to return to the office. ‘That wasn’t planned but it couldn’t have been come at a better time,’ says Tom Herrijgers. ‘The coronavirus has made us question things. Do I still love my job? What’s my role in the team? What direction is Marbles going in? We answered these questions together. We made time to really listen to each other and made room for emotions. We needed to, because in everyday life, it’s often just go, go, go.’
‘We are emotive people, here at Marbles,’ says Hanna Verhelst. ‘Because we are emotionally invested in the company, we tend to seize up when something isn’t going quite our way. Talking helps. The programme with Hifluence allowed us to press the reset button. It gave us the chance to discuss what is bothering us, so that we can get stuck in again with a positive mindset.’
‘The Unbossing Experience is so much more than a training course,’ stresses Nick Van Langendonck. ‘We are exposing the central nervous system of an organisation and shaking up the team. People are leaving their comfort zones. Using role-play scenarios, we hold a mirror up to people. It’s an intense programme, which requires commitment and dedication.’
‘The day’s schedule was crystal clear and yet, we didn’t work our way through a rigid course schedule,’ says Tom Herrijgers. ‘On day two, we immediately got to work with the brainstorming results of day one. The training course was 100% tailor-made. Hifluence had a great sense of what we needed. Tensions were resolved, fears discussed and resistances voiced. I saw people grow. This really is something we, Marbles, needed.’
Interested in our unbossing experience?
Marbles is fully committed to self-management. To achieve the company’s growth ambition, unbossing is crucial. Hifluence immersed the team in an intensive five-day programme: the Unbossing Experience.