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

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. A period of testing is often arranged so that both parties can honestly assess if the match is meant to be.

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, like Morning 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

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.

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 cases for inspiration

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