Stewarding at Loomio

We don't have bosses, so we figure out how to serve the useful functions bosses can serve in other ways. Some of that is covered by Coordinators or other processes. Stewarding is Loomio's approach to peer support.

Here are some of the things a boss might do in another organisation, that stewards hold at Loomio:

  • be the ones you talk to if your coworker is being a jerk
  • support you to meet your personal development goals
  • help make sure you do the things you said you were going to do
  • put a human face on talking to 'the organisation'

When you have an issue, you can’t approach a group; you need a specific person you know you can turn to. This is what your steward is for. They won’t solve every problem, but they are your point of contact to make sure the problem gets solved. If you don't know who to go to, you can always go to them.

Stewarding is not about managing your daily work. Its about you as an individual, and your relationship to the co-op. They can be your mentor, or your guide, or your sounding board. If you ever get into a conflict situation, they’ll be by your side making sure you are well supported to a resolution.

Everyone working on Loomio has a Steward. These relationships facilitate connections across the co-op, opportunities for exchanging insights, and deeper understanding of individuals and areas of work. They also help us ensure that we're looking after people.

Principles/Policies of our Stewardship System

  • All active worker members have stewards and stewardees
  • Two people can't both be each other's stewards
  • Non-member long-term workers have stewards (but not stewardees)
  • Members can steward more than one person at a time, but we try to spread the load evenly
  • People on short term contracts do not have stewards - their point of contact is the coordinators
  • People who are not co-op members are not stewards, but can have other valuable coaching, mentoring, and support roles
  • The Well Working Group facilitates the Stewardship system overall
  • Stewardship relationships are mutually agreed by both parties
  • We occasionally rotate stewards, to diversify the kind of support people get, while also investing in long-term stewarding relationships

Most people meet with their stewards about once per month. The Well Working Group will raise a proposal on Loomio once per month, as a reminder for stewards to check in with their stewardees.

Every stewarding relationship is different, and there are many different approaches. Some are more conversational and friendly, with mutual sharing from both parties. Sometimes stewards offer advice or challenges. Other times they simply listen. Sometimes they follow a more structured pattern, checking in on action points or measuring progress over time.

The important thing is that the approach works for the stewardee. Stewarding is their time to get the support they need to bring their best self to the co-op.

Your steward might ask you questions like:

  • how was last month? what did you like or dislike?
  • what do you want to do differently this month?
  • what longer term goals are you working on? how are you progressing on them since last time?
  • how can I best support you?
  • ...and sometimes the co-op will suggest a prompt or theme for stewards to bring up

Update August 2016 - this stewarding system has been extended out of Loomio into the wider Enspiral network. Cool eh! 🐝