RHD (Resources for Human Development)

RHD has developed over the years a beautiful and precisely worded Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for Employees and Consumers.

  • S : AUTRES SERVICES
  • USA
  • > 500

  • à but non lucratif

Teal Practices

The first two articles spell out RHD’s objective of creating a safe environment and constructively managing conflict and anger. (Later articles deal with topics related to self- management.) The premise is maintained that conflict is inevitable, but that hostile behaviors are not:

Values meeting: Every two months, all RHD colleagues are invited to join the values implementation meeting, where people can bring up issues they have encountered with values in the workplace or suggest changes to the Bill of Rights and Responsibilities . The meeting is well attended. Bob Fishman, RHD’s founder, makes a point to be present every time.

RHD has developed over the years a beautiful and precisely worded "Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for Employees and Consumers''. The document covers, among other, the topics of conflict, expressing anger, recognizing and managing hostility, decisions making, managing differences and open communications.

Each of RHD’s programs is run by a self-managing team, with an average of 20 and at most 50 people. Units, as these teams are called, are encouraged to develop their own sense of purpose, pride, and identity. Units are responsible for their entire operation. Central staff at headquarters is kept to a minimum. Specialist staff can counsel teams, but the final decision is kept in the unit. At RHD, teams have a team leader (called “Unit Director”). Unit Directors have no power to impose decisions and cannot unilaterally hire or fire anybody.

RHD is explicitly founded on a number of basic assumptions about people and work, including that: 1) all people are of equal human worth, 2) people are essentially good unless proven otherwise, and 3) there is no single way to manage corporate issues well.

RHD has developed a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for Employees and Consumers. The first two articles spell out RHD’s objective of creating a safe environment and constructively managing conflict and anger. The organisation has identified several basic assumptions, which guide operations. One is that there are multiple “right” ways or paths we can follow in making decisions. Thus there is no one “true” or “absolute” reality. Each person in a situation holds his/her own view of reality and his/her own perspective about the most effective way to do things. Whilst conflict and difference (or disagreement) are to be expected, explosive or otherwise hostile expressions of anger are not acceptable in RHD. As a member of the RHD community, it is important to be able to do two things: a) Separate from our own need to be “right” in order to hear and respect others’ realities and perspectives: and, b) Differentiate between thoughts (what’s going on inside your head) and behaviors (what you do or say).

The document goes on to spell out in detail five unacceptable expressions of hostility. The first, “demeaning speech and behavior”, is described in the following terms: Demeaning speech and behavior involves any verbal or nonverbal behavior that someone experiences as undermining of that person’s self-esteem and implies that he/she is less than worthy as a human being. Such behaviors include, but are not limited to, name-calling, ridicule, sarcasm, or other actions which “put down” people. Demeaning a person with such physical behaviors as rolling one’s eyes when the person speaks or otherwise negating her importance as a member of the community is also unacceptable. Anyone encountering such hostile behavior has the right and responsibility to surface it as an issue. Other expressions of hostility include ”negative triangulated messages”, “threat of abandonment”, “disconfirming the other person’s reality” and “intimidation/explosion” are defined in an equally precise manner.

“Above” the teams, there are no middle managers, but rather hub leaders who support a number of units. Hub leaders expect to be kept informed of major existing or potential problems. While they may advise or help, the responsibility for resolving problems stays with the unit.

Resources for Human Development (RHD) is a Philadelphia-based nonprofit , 4,000 employees operating in 14 states, serving people in need through a variety of homes, shelters, and programs in areas such as mental disabilities, addiction recovery, and homelessness. It was founded in 1970 by Robert Fishman.

In the Bill of Rights and Responsibilities (a document that spell out detailed ground rules for encouraging safe behaviors and identify inacceptable behaviors) is indicated that all programs and groups throughout the organization are requested to periodically look at the composition of the membership in their group, and to reflect on the reasons for and impacts of that composition. Based on such reflection, the group may want to make decisions about how it will move forward in creating and valuing a diverse membership.

RHD holds a bi-monthly “isms in the workplace meeting.” Anyone feeling that the organization should pay attention to a specific form or occurrence of racism, sexism, or any other “-ism” can join the meeting. If noticed that the organization as a whole tends to hire disproportionately more white than black people, or that women generally don’t step into certain roles; there is no obvious party to confront; everyone is called to find a solution.

No one else in the organization needs to be informed about the theme of the coaching, and it must not be a professional topic. The program is built on trust: if an employee is seeking support from an external coach, the topic must be important enough to be worth the money the company pays for it

Bob Fishman, the founder of RHD, explains the benefits of not using job descriptions in his organization: RHD consciously does not use job descriptions. Instead, the assumption that people are essentially good leads us to believe that, once an employee has a general sense of the job, he or she will want to shape the way it is done.

Thelma, for instance, had already been working as a receptionist at our new outpatient clinic for many years when she asked me for a job description. … I felt, and so told her, that it was absurd for me to define the details of her work since she was already doing a quality job. One of her outstanding behaviors was the kindness with which she greeted our clients, brought them coffee, and made sure that the therapist took them into the therapy room in a timely manner. Delineating her kindness was impossible: words would never have done justice to her heartfelt warmth. Thelma already knew how to perform her job and a detailed job description, I believed, would have done her more harm than good. … There is no single way to define a job, and no supervisor has the answer to how another person’s job should be performed. If … I imposed my view on her job, the corporation would, in effect, lose her special contribution - her way of managing the relationship between people. That would have been a great loss.

RHD, a Philadelphia based non-profit, holds the principle that when there is room for salary increases, they should be disproportionately geared toward the lowest salaries first. The CEO’s salary is capped to a maximum of 14 times the lowest salary in the organization. One can argue about the multiple―is it too high or too low?―but RHD introduced a clever twist by capping the highest salary not based on the average or median salary, as many Green Organizations have started doing, but on the lowest. It’s now very much in the CEO’s and the leadership’s own interest to ensure that even the colleagues with the lowest qualification earn enough for a decent living. Next to this direct focus on entry-level salaries, RHD has set up a scholarship fund to offer staff members opportunities to pursue formal education and increase their earning potential. And it has instituted a companion currency, the RHD Equal Dollar, that allows lower-paid colleagues to increase their access to goods and services by trading with each other and with their local community.

Each of RHD’s programs is run by a self-managing team, with an average of 20 and at most 40 to 50 people. Units, as these teams are called within RHD, are encouraged to develop their own sense of purpose, pride, and identity. Within the units, there are no job descriptions. Units are responsible for their entire operation, from defining a strategy to recruiting and purchasing, from budgeting to monitoring results. Central staff at headquarters is kept to a minimum. Specialist staff - for instance, the budget managers that support teams in financial matters or specialists in clinical review - can counsel teams, but the final decision is kept in the unit. [1]

1. All people are of equal human worth.

  1. People are essentially good, unless proven otherwise.

  2. There is no single way to manage corporate issues well.

RHD has developed over the years a beautiful and precisely worded Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for Employees and Consumers. The first two articles spell out RHD’s objective of creating a safe environment and constructively managing conflict and anger. (Later articles deal with topics related to self-management.) The premise is maintained that conflict is inevitable, but that hostile behaviors are not:

This corporation has chosen to operate with several basic assumptions. One of those assumptions is that there are multiple “right” ways or paths we can follow in making decisions, thus there is no one “true” or “absolute” reality. Each person in a situation holds his/ her own view of reality, and his/ her own perspective about the most effective way to do things. This assumption allows us to recognize that conflict is inevitable and that people will disagree in the workplace. While conflict and difference (or disagreement) are to be expected, explosive or otherwise hostile expressions of anger are not acceptable in RHD. As a member of the RHD community, it is important to be able to do two things: a) Separate from our own need to be “right” in order to hear and respect others’ realities and perspectives: and, b) Differentiate between thoughts (what’s going on inside your head) and behaviors (what you do or say).[2]

The document goes on to spell out in detail five unacceptable expressions of hostility. The first, demeaning speech and behavior, is described in the following terms:

Demeaning speech and behavior involves any verbal or nonverbal behavior that someone experiences as undermining of that person’s self-esteem and implies that he/she is less than worthy as a human being. Such behaviors include, but are not limited to, name-calling, ridicule, sarcasm, or other actions which “put down” people. Demeaning a person with such physical behaviors as rolling one’s eyes when the person speaks or otherwise negating her importance as a member of the community is also unacceptable. Anyone encountering such hostile behavior has the right and responsibility to surface it as an issue.[3]

Other expressions of hostility ”negative triangulated messages,” “threat of abandonment,” “disconfirming the other person’s reality,” and “intimidation/explosion” are defined in an equally precise manner.[4]

Notes and references


  1. Laloux, Frederic. Reinventing Organizations. Nelson Parker (2014), page 148 and following ↩︎

  2. Robert Fishman and Barbara Fishman, The Common Good Corporation: The Experiment Has Worked! (Philadelphia: The Journey to Oz Press, 2006), 165. ↩︎

  3. Robert Fishman and Barbara Fishman, The Common Good Corporation: The Experiment Has Worked! (Philadelphia: The Journey to Oz Press, 2006), 165. ↩︎

  4. Laloux, Frederic (2014-02-09). Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness (Kindle Locations 3332-3349). Nelson Parker. Kindle Edition. ↩︎