Holacracy Coach, When Do You Need One?

When should you hire a Holacracy coach? How much will it cost? What characteristics should you look for in a coach?

Paul Walker
May 11, 2021

Holacracy Coach, When Do You Need One?

Paul Walker
May 11, 2021

You have done your research to learn the basics of what Holacracy is and you’ve decided to implement it within your organization. But there is still one big question on your mind ...

Do you need a Certified Holacracy Coach?

While this could be answered with a simple yes or no, it is a rather big decision for most.

Indeed, it is a decision that impacts your budget, how the implementation will be communicated and rolled out, and so much more.

To help you make this decision for yourself, in this article, we will discuss:

  • What a Holacracy Coach is and how they help
  • If it is a pre-requisite for Holacracy adoption
  • Why you might need a Holacracy Coach
  • How much coaching will cost
  • What to look for in a coach
  • Where to find a coach

What is a Holacracy Coach?

A “Certified Holacracy Coach” is a certification provided by the company which created Holacracy, HolacracyOne.

Certified Holacracy coaches may provide Holacracy practitioner training.

In order to officially offer Holacracy services, such as consulting and coaching, one must go through a Holacracy coach training and be licensed by HolacracyOne.

If a coach has this certification, it means they are authorized and certified to help other organizations adopt Holacracy and are likely up-to-date with the latest Holacracy news, training, and practices.

How Can They Help?

Coaches can be valuable in helping your organization adopt a solid Holacracy practice.

While every coach will do things a little differently, ideally, a coach’s goal will be to help your organization become self-sufficient in your Holacracy practice for the long term.

This will often be through a mix of consulting, day-to-day coaching, meeting facilitation, workshops, and more.

More specifically, a Holacracy Coach’s role is to teach your organization how to practice Holacracy more effectively.

They can help you rethink your organizational structure and will impart their Holacracy knowledge and teach your team everything they need to conduct Holacracy meetings

Why You Might Need a Coach

Naturally, there is always the question of why you even need a coach.

Although a potentially powerful framework, Holacracy is exceptionally complex.

While you can learn it on your own, it can be very difficult and is rarely recommended.

Like learning to play any other game with a lot of rules, it’s always easier to learn by having someone who knows the game teach you the rules and show you how it works in practice.

You certainly could read the entirety of the Holacracy Constitution, the rulebook for Holacracy, it will work about as well as reading any other rulebook before you’ve ever seen the game played.

A coach will hopefully:

Going back to the long-term goal of self-sufficiency, they will also likely teach your employees how to do the work themselves.

In short, a good Holacracy Coach will try to work themselves out of a job.

How?

By making Holacracy practice second nature for all employees, teaching some employees how to facilitate meetings themselves, and making sure everyone knows what resources are available when questions arise in the future.

What's the Best Time to Hire a Coach?

Since most Holacracy Coaches offer a variety of services, they can be of benefit regardless of where your organization is at in the process of Holacracy adoption.

If you haven’t started yet, they can hold your hand, show you the ropes, assess the potential that Holacracy (or a similar system) has for your organization, and guide you through every step of the journey.

If your adoption has already begun, they can provide feedback on your organizational structure and governance processes, sit in on meetings to help coach on better ways to facilitate, or help you craft new policies to solve specific problems.

Even if you have been working in Holacracy for years but want an even more experienced peer to turn to for questions, a Coach can simply hop on a call with you to help you talk through your situation and come up with solutions for whatever challenges you might be experiencing.

How Much Will Coaching Cost?

Getting price estimates for consulting gigs is never simple, and Holacracy coaching is no different.

Holacracy Coaches are plentiful and scattered around the world. Some are lone freelance consultants and others are members of entire organizations with the sole purpose of providing Holacracy services. Because of this, there is a broad range of options within any budget.

Even more complicating is the plethora of variables that go into any quote, making it extremely difficult to guess how much you will be expected to pay until a coach has spoken with you to learn about the state and needs of your business.

Holaspirit reached out to several of our partners for insights on estimating budgets. Octopy, dwarfs & Giants, SOOPLE and Liip all provided some of the major factors which are taken into consideration to determine a quote for coaching services.

Here are some of the common factors which will play a role in determining the price you might have to pay for coaching services.

Size of the Organization

  • Number of employees who need trained or onboarded
  • Number of managers/leaders who need coached
  • Number of teams which need organized
  • Amount of policies which need to be reviewed and optimized
  • Scale of technology needed to work with, such as the number of different software tools the company uses.

Sector/Industry of the Organization

  • Private vs Public vs Government vs Non-Profit entities have very different rules and regulations which must be carefully navigated
  • Some types of work have more inherent risk and danger
  • Some industries are traditionally much easier to implement changes in. For example, a SaaS company likely has more opportunity to take time away from work for training than a hands-on manufacturing company might.

Location of the Organization

  • Different countries have different laws and regulations
  • Language barriers which must be overcome and/or can limit the available number of coaches who can help
  • Cultural differences both in how coaching is provided and how services are perceived
  • Location determines whether the training can be done virtually or in-person. If in-person, location determines the cost of travel, lodging, and accommodations.

Project Timeline

  • Is the focus on long-term improvement or short-term gains?
  • Do you want help over a single week or several years?
  • Is there a deadline for when things must be finished?

Current Capability and Specific Needs

  • Are you wanting to implement a company-wide change to every process or just have your teams learn a new way of having effective meetings?
  • How “mature” is your organization already in regards to how self-managed they are? Is there already a lot of autonomy and responsibility? If so, the services needed will be less and easier.
  • Is there likely to be much skepticism and resistance? Especially if employees feel psychologically unsafe, any services will take longer and be more challenging.
  • Do you need actual “training” or just occasional consulting to bounce ideas and get insights?
  • Are you seeking Holacracy-specific coaching or general self-management coaching?
  • How much of the change do you want to lead and implement yourself versus having the coach lead the adoption?


As you can see, a lot of factors go into determining how much work will be required to achieve your desired goals, and thus how much you will be expected to pay. This sheer number of available choices can be overwhelming, especially if you plan to contact every Holacracy provider to get a quote.

On the other hand, it also guarantees that there is always an individual or company out there who has the skills and desire to help regardless of your budget, timeframe, and specific needs.

In general, plan to pay what you might expect for any traditional external consulting. This might be a few hundred dollars an hour for limited one-on-one coaching sessions, with that price likely dropping dramatically the more hours, workshops, and services you book over longer periods of time.

Of course, as mentioned above, you can always find someone willing and able to do the work within any budget.

This is especially true for non-profit organizations, schools, and other community-focused organizations which regularly receive discounted rates or special offers.

Do You Need Holacracy-Specific Coaching?

Before hiring a coach, consider whether you need Holacracy-specific coaching or just general self-management coaching.

Indeed, in exchange for granting them the license to coach, HolacracyOne takes a fee on services provided by Certified Holacracy Coaches and that cost is often passed onto the customer by the coach.

For this reason, coaching that is inspired by Holacracy but not specific to it may allow for further cost savings if money is your biggest concern.

What to Look For in a Coach

There is no single trait that every great Holacracy Coach has. They all have Holacracy knowledge but different levels of experience and different methods of how they work.

So, rather than pointing out specific traits to look for, here are some things to consider for yourself that will help you decide on the Holacracy Coach who will be right for you.

1 – Stay within your budget

While this advice normally goes with buying a new home, the same is true of hiring outside help.

If you go over budget, the stress put upon your organization will slow or even undo much of the progress you will be trying to make while adopting Holacracy.

You need to feel safe and comfortable throughout or the adoption will not go smoothly.

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to your financial budget.

Think about all the resources your organization has and consider what you’re comfortable willing to spend.

How many hours of training can each person put in without getting overworked or letting necessary projects fall through the cracks?

How many people can be trained at one time based on the size of both your workforce and your conference spaces?

By knowing what you can afford (time, money, equipment, space, and so on), you can make sure the coach you hire can work within those confines so there will be no added stress during this difficult transition.

2 – Consider how invested you are in Holacracy specifically

While Holacracy is easily the most widely-known method of organizational self-management, there are numerous options out there.

So before hiring a Holacracy Coach, you want to be aware of how set you are on Holacracy specifically.

If you know you want to use the latest version of Holacracy in its entirety, stick to the rules as they are, and have a whole community of people using the same system and rules as you, then you should definitely stick with a Certified Holacracy Coach.

However, if you are interested in exploring other options, such as Sociocracy, look for a coach who has experience with various structures.

If you like some aspects of Holacracy, but want more flexibility, find a coach who is willing to stray from the concrete rules and implement just what you would find beneficial.

3 – Not all coaches are created equal

Every coach has unique perspectives and experiences which can help different people in different ways.

Certification vs Practice

Many Holacracy Coaches attained their certification and offer to consult, but have never personally been an employee in an organization that was going through a Holacracy implementation.

If you find that experience valuable, find a coach who has been on both sides of the table.

Some highly experienced Holacracy practitioners simply didn’t renew their certifications for any number of reasons, so if the current certification doesn’t mean much to you, there are many coaches out there with the experience you seek who won’t be listed as official providers.

General Knowledge vs Expertise

Are you looking for someone with expertise in a specific industry?

Perhaps you want someone local who can relate to the geographical and culture challenges your organization is facing.

Keep all these things in mind while deciding what traits matter to you in a coach.

The key takeaway of what to look for in a coach?

Remember that Holacracy is widely popular and has practitioners and coaches all around the world, and that bucket only gets bigger as you stray away from by-the-book Holacracy.

This means there is always someone who has the skills, time, and desire to help you in the way you want for the price you want.

It may mean spending more time looking, but if you know you need a coach and you are certain other options won’t work for you, then taking the time to find the perfect fit will benefit your organization in the long run.

Where to Find a Coach

Once again, one of the biggest benefits of Holacracy is how popular it is around the globe. It has created a worldwide agile community with local chapters in various countries and cities, filled with experienced Holacracy practitioners with goals similar to yours.

While there are many, many places to find coaches to help you in your journey, here are a few of the best resources.

1 - Reinventing Organizations Forum.

This is the official forum for the community built around the Reinventing Organizations book which created the revolutionary concept of Teal organizations.

While there are many valuable sections in this forum from getting to know others in the community to asking questions and sharing advice, there is also a section specifically for coaches and consultants.

You can hop in here and see if anyone stands out, or go to a different part of the forum to say exactly what you are looking for.

2 – Holacracy Providers

If you explicitly want to use the current ruleset for Holacracy and are looking for coaches who specialize in Holacracy as-is, you can find a list of all officially licensed Holacracy Providers on HolacracyOne's website, many of which are also Holaspirit Partners.

An "Holacracy Premier Provider" is a more experienced coach that you can trust to teach Holacracy exactly the way it is meant to be taught. You can also hire HolacracyOne themselves if that's your cup of tea.

3 – Holaspirit Partners

Holaspirit works hand in hand with self managed organization experts based in over 40 countries, with experience in all industries.

Some are specialized in adoption and implementation, others are focused on meeting facilitation.

Some are Certified Holacracy Coaches, others are focused on other self organization practices.

The one thing all Holaspirit partners have in common is that they are familiar with the Holaspirit platform and often use it when helping clients implement organizational change, be it by-the-book Holacracy, Holacracy-inspired practices or other self-management methods.

Whatever you choose and whoever you opt to work with, remember that you are working toward an audacious and praiseworthy goal.

You are trying to improve your organization’s efficiency and your employees’ experience. So, while finding a coach shouldn’t be stressful, it follows the same logic as every step of the self-management adoption process:

The more time and effort you put in upfront (to find your perfect coach), the less stress you’ll face down the road (due to a smoother implementation and a better relationship with your coach).

Need Help Finding the Right Holacracy Coach For You?

Tell us about your project here and someone on our team will send you a personalized recommendation.

holacracy
implementation
transformation
change management
WRITTEN BY

Paul Walker

Self-Management Specialist

@ Octopy

Paul previously implemented Holacracy and Teal concepts at Zappos and now works at Octopy with the mission of creating a more human-focused future of work