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Self-organized salary finding

19.12.2019 4 min read

TL;DR: the canvas as PDF download without a link to Holacracy.

At one of my former employers, I worked intensively with my colleagues on the topics of salary, effectiveness, and contribution to the success of the company as part of self-organization and Holacracy. My colleague at the time, Daniel, and I gave a presentation on this topic at BedCon in September 2018:

For me, the most motivating aspect of this subject was the idea of giving impulses to a system that improves the common understanding of all involved individuals. In my past, I’ve had – like probably every person in their own professional life – made some bad experiences in this area.

Based on the ideas and impulses from our talk, after a great talk by Udo Wiegärtner and Doris Dietz at Manage Agile 2018 on the topic “Und Augenhöhe geht doch …” (Youtube Video) I saw further opportunities. The idea presented in the talk is based on the concept of a Business Model Canvas: create a canvas for employee reviews to improve them. I found this idea so inspiring that I created a first draft for my then-employer’s employee reviews in a self-organized system. I then refined this with my colleagues and brought it into the company. The employee reviews conducted with it had a great and more consistent structure, which was a great support for the actual development and performance reviews. The approach helped both the “leaders” (note: we designed the concept of “leader” differently at Europace as part of the self-organization) and the colleagues to gain a deeper and good understanding of the previous year.

Real example from 2018

What about non-Holarctic companies?

Based on the experiences from the 2018/19 employee reviews and due to the many conversations at conferences and meetups, I have modified the canvas again and am happy to provide it as an alternative for companies that are not organized with a framework like Holacracy. Below is an A0 example with indicated post-its:

adapted canvas with example post-its

I actually recommend having it printed as an A0 poster (PDF download) and then using post-its to reflect collaboratively on the past year.


The focus of the canvas is geared toward a good shared understanding of the past year and thus deep shared reflection as well as alignment of expectations. I have designed this version of the canvas to start at the top left with the negative and positive events of the last year. Afterward, you collaboratively move clockwise through the individual areas until you end in the shared outlook for the next year.

After the area of the events of the last year, the canvas contains the area about the own personal development and the own experiences. After that, there is room for one’s own strengths and responsibilities. I have intentionally excluded the area of potentials, as these can introduce an additional level of complexity for a joint salary discussion, which further complicates the overall topic. The aspects relevant to effectiveness are very likely to show up in the expectations or collaboration area anyway. In my experience, it is enormously valuable to obtain personal feedback before collaboratively creating the canvas to compare one’s own self-perception with that of others.

In the “My Motivators” section, you are invited to reflect on the most important aspects of your motivation by using the Moving Motivators. The areas “Collaboration with my team” and “Collaboration with my organization” are intended for all facets of collaboration in everyday life and beyond. The division into “team” and “big picture” can support taking certain perspectives on one’s own everyday work (e.g., excellent collaboration in one’s own team, but hardly any aspects when looking at the organization).

Up to this point, the perspective of the canvas is more directed into the past. This changes with the following areas: “Impulses of my environment”, “expectations of the organization towards me” and “my expectations towards myself”. There, the collaboration focuses on the future. In the area about “expectations”, my experience is that it is not necessary to come to a common agreement when working with the canvas. It can also be sufficient to simply exchange expectations and discuss an agreement downstream.

The process through the canvas ends with concrete thoughts about the next year with the perspectives “What do I want to share with others?”, “What do I intend to do next year?” and “What do I want to learn/what do I need?”. My guiding principle has always been not to plan the following year in terms of annual goals, but rather to talk lightly about what is already apparent and what can be discussed, if necessary, based on expectations at this time.

The conclusion of the canvas is finding the desired salary together and having an open exchange about the needs behind it. In my past, the actual offers were subsequently found via methods that would go beyond the scope of this post, and some facets of which already appear in the presentation by Daniel and me.