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Recruitment

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This topic addresses recruitment and describes the processes for how external candidates are recruited into the organization, including  who recruits and how the interview process is conducted.

A new perspective

In Teal organizations, recruitment is led by the team in need of a new member. Conversations with candidates tend to center around three topics: Fit with the role, fit with the organization, and fit with the purpose. The last two are often considered more important, as in self-managing organizations, there is much fluidity around roles. A period of testing is often arranged so that both parties can honestly assess if the match is meant to be. 

Every historical stage has given birth to a distinct perspective on recruitment and to very different practices.

Red organizations

In Red organizations, loyalty is key. The chief surrounds himself with family members or other people he feels he can trust or keep in line through both fear and a promise to take care of them. Recruitment boils down to co-option, and there are often ritualized joining practices where the newcomer chooses allegiance to the boss, who offers protection in return. 

Amber Organizations

In Amber organizations, social stratification is the basis for recruitment. To apply for a job, candidates need to have a specific background. Historically, this hierarchical stratification in organizations paralleled social stratification: priests were recruited from peasantry; bishops and cardinals, from aristocracy. A man (and certainly a woman) born into the working class would not aspire to a management position, and once entering the organization, would not climb high. Today’s Amber organizations still tend to abide by social stratification, albeit in subtler ways. In government agencies, schools, and the military, positions higher than a certain level often still require a specific diploma or a certain number of years of experience. The person recruited might not be the most qualified, but the one that meets all the criteria.

Orange organizations

Orange organizations' pursuit of performance, efficiency and innovation makes them focus their recruitment efforts on selecting the candidates with the best skills, the most relevant experience and expertise for a specific role, as well as the best future potential for development. In some large corporations, interviews are conducted by specialized Human Resources personnel (for top leadership roles by external "head hunter" search firms,) in most cases in conjunction with the person's future manager. Significant effort and resources have been deployed to develop interview techniques and training, as well as assessments tools to help organizations optimize their success rate in recruitment.

Green organizations

In Green organizations, recruitment revolves around shared culture as much as on the specific skills of the candidate. Candidates for management positions are rigorously screened on their mindset, behavior and values: are they ready to empower their subordinates, to be a coach rather than a top-down decision maker? Will they lead with humility? The focus on culture elevates human resources to a central role. 

Teal Organizations

In Teal Organizations, recruitment is led by the team in need of a new member, not by Human Resources (often, an HR function doesn’t exist.) Conversations with candidates tend to center around three topics: Fit with the role, fit with the organization, and fit with the purpose. The last two are often considered more important, as in self-managing organizations, there is much fluidity around roles.

Teal organizations try to be mindful of the temptation to ‘look good’ to candidates during recruitment. The premise is that both parties are trying to answer one simple, fundamental question: Do we sense that we are meant to journey together? This question can only be meaningfully answered when conversations are rooted in honesty and integrity, with a willingness to inquire deeply and openly. 

In practice

Team recruitment

In traditional organizations, recruitment processes are regularly handled by Human Resources personnel. Their interest is to quickly fill an open position with a suitable candidate  as their performance is sometimes measured by the number of job openings that they fill. It is in their best interest to present a positive view of the company and the role in order to encourage the candidate to accept the offer. In the same way, candidates try to present themselves and their job experience in the most positive light to increase the chances that they will receive an offer of employment.

Teal organizations try to encourage both parties to be as truthful as possible with each other. The interviews are handled by future teammates who simply want to decide if they want to work with the candidate on a daily basis. The team can take advice and counsel from HR if such a function exists, but they are in charge of the process and decision. Having 10 to 12 conversations is not unusual to provide time for both parties to feel each other out and establish if the fit will work well for the team and the candidate.

Teammates have no recruitment targets to make and tend to be honest about their workplace. If they oversell the company to their potential new teammate, they would have to live with the consequences of that on a daily basis. Because team members tend to be honest about the workplace, candidates feel invited to be honest too. Candidates often meet all their future colleagues, tour the premises, are invited to genuinely ask all sorts of questions to determine if it really is a place they feel called to work for. Many Teal Organizations report that their recruitment process and decisions can take significantly longer than usual. They sometimes accept slower growth, keeping a posting open until they find a person that fits not only the job opening but also the organization and its purpose.

What makes for a good fit

Most traditional organizations focus on a person's fit with the job description. Teal organizations tend to take a broader perspective, designing recruitment as a two-way discovery process to answer one fundamental question: Are we meant to journey together?

Fit for role

Assessing the fit in terms of skills, experience and expertise remains an important component of the recruitment process, especially for specific roles requiring expertise. Roles in self-managing organizations are exchanged very fluidly, though. For that reason, the "fit for role" is often not considered to be paramount, as it is likely that a person's roles might change quickly. Self-managing organizations experience that when employees are motivated to take on a new and challenging role, they  pick up new skills and experience in surprisingly little time.

Fit with the organization

A second area to explore in conversation is: will this person blossom in the organization? Will he or she thrive in a self-organizing environment? Does the person feel aligned by the organization's values? Does he or she "click" with the colleagues? Many Teal organizations, likeMorning Star, give candidates a training in self-management, so candidates can determine if that is what they want. Other organizations create moments in the recruitment process to have in-depth discussions about the company's and the candidate's values.

Fit with purpose

Finally, is the person energized by the organizations’ purpose? Is there something in the person's history that makes them resonate, makes them want to serve this purpose at this moment in their life? The discussion triggered by these questions can reach substantial depth and help both the candidate and the organization learn more about themselves. Recruitment becomes a process of self-inquiry as much as a process of mutual assessment.

Testing the match

Trial periods are common in Teal organizations. Some organizations such as FAVI make extended use of this period for both parties to test whether the match works well in the long run. Zappos offers its new hires a $3,000 check if they have second thoughts and choose to quit during the four-week orientation. The idea is that everyone will be better off if they don’t stay in what promises to be an unhappy marriage.

Frequently asked questions

Is everybody a good fit for a Teal organization? Are there people who can't adapt to such a workplace?

Some people will be more attracted than others to work in self-managing environments, or in places that invite people into wholeness or to engage deeply with a specific purpose. The more the recruitment process allows candidates to have a deep understanding of the kind of workplace they are applying for the higher the chance both the organization and the individual may have a clear understanding and might realize the fit is not ideal.

  • When it comes to self-management, the challenge tends to be different, depending on a person's background. If the candidate is used to being a manager or to work in a staff position with power over operating units, it can be a challenging transition. Candidates who have previously worked in the lower levels of the organization may find it hard at first to deal with the higher levels of commitment and personal responsibility that self-management requires.
  • When it comes to wholeness: is the person comfortable with an environment where colleagues are expecting each other to be open and vulnerable, to show up from a place of wholeness?
  • When it comes to evolutionary purpose: does the person resonate with the organization's purpose, and do they feel ok with an environment in which there is little predict & control, and more sense and respond?

Traditional organizations that move to Teal find that it is often hard to predict who will thrive in the new environment or not. Some people suddenly blossom, whereas others where everyone predicted they would love it find it hard. So taking time in the recruitment process and building in, when possible, a test period might be helpful to increases chances of a good fit.

Aren’t teammates tempted to recruit candidates without strong personalities, who won't disturb them? Is there not a risk for lack of diversity to creep in?

The risk exists, just as in any kind of organization, where people prefer recruit someone  who looks like them : same age, same experience, same initial training. Mitigating that risk is that recruitment is often a team affair and not just a single or small groups decision. 

Some Teal organizations have invented processes to preserve diversity (see below RHD  bi-monthly “isms in the workplace meeting”).

Concrete examples for inspiration

Here are some practical examples from organizations that have adopted Teal way of working.

Morning Star

Food Processing - United States - 400 employees - For profit

Recruitment in Morning Star is a very demanding process, generally including a multitude of interviews and a battery of diagnostics.

Chris Rufer, the founder of Morning Star, estimates that, on average, it takes a new associate a year or more to become fully functional in the self-management environment. When the company was smaller, Chris Rufer spent half a day interviewing every prospective employee, usually in the candidate’s home. The bulk of the conversation focused on assessing the fit between Morning Star’s philosophy and the applicant’s expectations. Today every potential hire gets a two-hour introduction to self- management and is interviewed by 10 to 12 Morning Star colleagues. Even then, mistakes happen. Paul Green Jr., co-founder,  estimates that as many as 50% of seasoned hires leave within two years because they have a hard time adapting to the self management system. 

A colleague who wants to expand a Business Unit’s pay-roll must sell the idea to his or her peers, who will ask for a job description and a business case. If there’s a consensus to move ahead, the mechanics of recruiting will get turned over to an in-house specialist.

Emphasis is on fit for role and fit for the organization.  A major point in fit for organization is passion for learning.

Sounds True

Media - United States - 90 employees and 20 dogs - For profit

Tami Simon, the founder of Sounds True, tells the following story about its particular culture and how people may or may not fit in:

One of the things I’ve found out at Sounds True is in the first three months of employment a lot of the people don’t stay. … Sounds True, people want to get to know who you are, they want you to be real, they don’t want you to wear forty masks to work. It’s like―will the real person please stand up? There is this sense of authenticity; who we are when we are not at work is who we are when we are at work. That’s the kind of environment that’s here and of course we try to screen for this and let people know before they take the job, and a lot of people go “Oh I’m totally ready for that.  I’m interested in that, that’s what I want.”  But then they come in and may or may not be comfortable actually working in that kind of environment where people when they stop in the hallway and ask “How are you doing?” actually mean it! "How 'are' you doing?". 

Listen to the interview by clicking hereː here

AES (Applied Energy Services)

Energy Sector - Global - 40,000 employees - For profit

At AES, candidates are invited to discussions about the organization’s values and practices during the recruitment process.

An employee of AES explained: "bad hire" is someone who is a chronic complainer, who is not happy, who blames others, who doesn’t take responsibility, who’s not honest, who doesn’t trust other people. A bad hire would be someone who needs specific direction and waits to be told what to do. A poor hire would be someone who wasn’t flexible and who says, “It’s not my job.”

FAVI

Metal Manufacturing – France – 400 employees – For profit

Uses an extended trial period, to ensure a mutual match.

FAVI made extended use of the trial period for both parties to test whether the match works out.

Zappos

Online shoe retailer - United States - 1,500 employees - For profit

Offers its new hires a $3,000 check if they have second thoughts and choose to quit during the four-week orientation.

The idea is that everyone will be better off not staying in a marriage that isn’t meant to be. Three thousand dollars is a lot of money for people working in call centers or moving boxes in fulfillment centers, which is what most Zappos.com employees do. It’s a tribute to Zappos’ outstanding culture that the percentage of people taking the money and leaving is only around one or two percent. Whenever the percentage of people taking the check draws too close to zero, Zappos increases the amount (it started with $100, then raised it to $200, and raised it again and again up to its current level). The practice, in essence, boils down to a real-life barometer of the health of the organization’s culture.

Zappos.com is famous for its Green cultural practices described in the bestseller Delivering Happiness, written by CEO Tony Hsieh. The 1,500-employee company is currently making the leap to Holacracy.

HolacracyOne

Consulting and training - United States - 12 partners - For profit

Team members qualify candidates based on fit for organization, purpose and role.

HolacracyOne is a training, consulting, and research company dedicated to spreading a new organizational model, “holcacray”, originally developed by Brian Robertson and his team at Ternary Software, a Philadelphia-based start-up. After transferring Ternary to new leadership, Robertson co-founded HolacracyOne.

During the recruitment process, teammates check if

  • the person is “fit for organization”  i.e. Is this person in resonance and energized by the evolutionary purpose, intrinsically motivated and comfortable with complex ever changing environment.
  • If yes, they check if the candidate is “fit for role”.

Patagonia

Apparel - United States - 1,350 employees - For profit

Hiring is a relatively slow process, performed by peers over multiple interviews.

Yvon Chouinard founded what would later be called Patagonia in 1957 to produce climbing pitons. The California-based company has grown into a leading outdoor apparel maker, committed to being a positive influence on the environment.

In Patagonia hire is made slowly with interview from peers, as much as possible from withiɳ.

RHD (Resources for Human Development)

Human Services - United States - 4,000 employees - Nonprofit

At RHD, the HR service is responsible for providing training, support and education of unit personnel regarding employment practices, but do not provide a centralized hiring process. RHD uses frequent peer reflection in all programs and groups to evaluate group composition, in order to adapt recruiting so they can provide a diverse workplace.

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.

Fitzii

Hiring software and services provider - Canada - 10 employees – For profit

Each team does its own hiring and members of other teams participate in panel interviews; fit is evaluated using why/how/what framework.

Fitzii, a recruitment company, follows rigorous processes to evaluate new hires’ potential for success – including psychometric testing and in-depth panel interviews. Hiring decisions rest with the team doing the hiring, with representatives of every other team involved in panel interviews. Focus is on ensuring the new hire will experience meaningful work and be supported by the Fitzii team.

When hiring core team members, three essential types of fit are evaluated: • Why – alignment with Fitzii’s evolutionary purpose is evaluated in conversation during preliminary and panel interviews; there is a strong desire to find roles for people with clear purpose alignment • How – an individual’s behavioural traits, evaluated by psychometric testing within the Fitzii software • What – knowledge, skills, abilities related to the main role(s) the new hire will play, evaluated by the relevant functional team

These may or may not be equally important in every hire. For example, hiring a programmer requires a high level of knowledge, skill, and ability (what) whereas hiring a senior person who will set strategy requires a high level of purpose alignment (why).

Related topics

Notes and references