Putting open values into management practice

How does transitioning into management change someone's view of working according to open principles?
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Brick wall between two people, a developer and an operations manager

In this edition of the "Managing with Open Values" series, we connected with another Open Organization Ambassador, Allison Matlack, to discover what she learned when she put open organization values into practice as a new manager.

Allison has a unique perspective on the practice of managing with open values because she was familiar with working in an open organization before becoming a manager, and therefore needed to learn how to practice the values differently as she transitioned to a manager role at Red Hat. That was “easier said than done,” as she put it during our discussion, because of a manager's responsibilities for helping and coaching individuals on their team, specifically regarding performance and development.

Allison manages a team focused on internal communications, where associates have a variety of unique responsibilities and work on different tasks rather than collaborate on a single deliverable. This makes both the sharing of knowledge and the use of knowledge toward an innovative goal of primary importance. Because of that, she feels she is not a "boss"—not someone who directs work— but rather "just another member of the team" who "sets the context in which works take place."

She feels she is not a "boss"—not someone who directs work— but rather "just another member of the team" who "sets the context in which works take place."

The biggest challenge for Allison in setting that context was in using her self-awareness to understand the individuals on her team (and the differences between her and her teammates), despite having known some of her team members for a number of years prior to becoming a manager. Each associate has to be taken separately because of their individual differences, including perspectives, styles, cultures, values, educational backgrounds, and general cognitive differences—all of which mean that two people can have the same data and come to different conclusions.

In the interview, you'll also hear Allison share:

  • An example of a difficulty she had to address with a team member by understanding her unspoken assumptions, having courage to be vulnerable, and creating a safe environment to confront the situation
  • Why her favorite value of creating an inclusive environment of psychological safety is foundational to team performance
  • The role of an advocate-manager, a partner, and a coach in associate success


Audio file

Listen to the interview with Allison Matlack

Read the series

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Heidi Hess von Ludewig researches networked workplace creativity from the systems perspective, which means that she examines the relationships of multiple elements within the workplace that influence how individuals and groups perform innovative and creative work.

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