Teal Organizations: why the future belongs to the teals?
Not in the distant future but here and now, the teal companies or those that are rebuilding their organizational system in the teal route are considered more progressive and successful. Because yes – they are much more productive, efficient, economical, less stressful, and not conflicted. Let’s discover together, what are the features of the teal organization and what are the prerequisites for its implementation.
The world has changed – old models do not work.
Nothing will be the same as before. Various global challenges: natural, social, man-caused, and especially the pandemic, which has been going on for three years, have changed the lives of humankind dramatically. And not only in terms of attitude to their health but also concerning interpersonal and professional relations, in the organization of working time and leisure.
Different types of freelance, project employment, flexible schedules, work outside the office from around the world, partially moving to the online working pattern, digitalization, free organization of the work process, reduction of strict formalities have become more popular. It is no longer possible to work according to the old schemes; we have entered a new round of history, which researchers have figuratively painted in teal.
In the 1960s, American psychologist Claire Graves published a theory of the spiral dynamics of mankind's bio-psychosocial systems. According to this theory, each stage of mankind's development has its color: red, yellow, blue, and so on. In the ’90s this theory was adapted for management. And in 2014, the famous business coach Frederic Laloux published a revolutionary book, Reinventing organizations, in which he applied a color approach to the classification of companies and organizations.
This book immediately became a bestseller on Amazon and in the New York Times. Frederic Laloux has researched many companies with different numbers of employees, different working conditions, and different models of subordination and forms of ownership; from public hospitals to giant corporations. The results were innovative and much unexpected.
Classification of companies by colors:
Humanity is currently in the Orange developmental stage; it is based on competition and the pursuit of success, characterized by the flourishing of entrepreneurship and the free market. Of course, our society will host organizations of all colors because everyone has different specifics and purposes. It is difficult to imagine, say, an Army that is not Amber, but Green or Orange. But the Army is also changing, and there are already perceptible changes in the initial color, small infusions of other colors. But we are interested not in the government but in another market segment – business, IT, consulting, advertising, creativity, goods, and services.
Today, the Green management is domineering, built on friendly relationships in the team, but its low productivity does not allow it to become dominant in the orange society. Therefore, Green began to be replaced by Teal.
How to identify a teal company?
Leader: formally exists but possesses new consciousness. They aren’t a tyrant, neither a petty one nor a dictator. They do not give orders, do not control everyone, do not assess the quality of work, and do not determine salaries. They do not want to appear good, do not enjoy privileges, and are not afraid to listen to other people's opinions. The Leader does not hate or punish. They are the face of the company or its inspiration.
Team = self-government. A teal company is the teamwork of like-minded people without the need for a clear hierarchy. They do not need bosses, top managers, and someone on the top who will take full responsibility. These organizations are self-governing, with coaches and mentors replacing traditional formal leadership. Plans and deadlines are set not from above but based on the results of internal consultations. Teal teams hold general meetings to address current and future issues as needed (rather than on schedule). Employees make their own decisions and are responsible for them. In the teal company, everyone is equal and gives their share of joint work. And the work is divided into zones of personal responsibility. There is a high level of trust and simplified communication, and therefore there is no need for bureaucratic procedures, which saves a lot of time and simplifies budgets.
Personnel policy. The work doesn’t all fall on one HR. The decision to hire new specialists is made collectively, depending on the necessity. Employees work together to decide if a team needs a new employee and conduct a group interview with them. Positions and responsibilities are not prescribed; the functionality is selected for specific workers, maximizing their potential. Team members choose their work to perform and take responsibility for it. Depending on the wish and need, the nature of work can change. There is a redistribution of roles: if someone is tired of doing one thing, they can give it up and do something else, and after a break back to their usual responsibilities. Employees determine the amount of their salary collectively, depending on many factors.
Schedule and working conditions. The schedule is flexible to the maximum extent. Everyone decides how to distribute their 40 (conditionally) working hours a week. But everyone is also responsible for the timely closure of their tasks and for communicating this with other team members. The place of work does not matter; it depends on the decision of the team and the personal desires of employees. Basically, it is an open space for freedom of choice and synergy. For example, teal employees can bring their children or pets to the office, dress, and decorate their workplaces as they choose. There is no need to “sit through” the working hours because they get paid for efficiency and productivity, not for hours spent working.
In the name of what? If you think that the main goal is profit, you think too narrowly and are not ready to "go teal". Money is not a goal but only a resource to achieve it. There must be one common “big idea”, for the benefit of people and society, and this goal may well evolve – along with the growth and development of the company itself. If there is no shared mission, there will be chaos.
A few important nuances
- Teal companies are not really for beginners but experienced professionals.
- Independence and responsibility are fundamental requirements for teal employees. In practice, this is much harder to achieve than it seems because it is much easier when someone says what to do and how to do it than to do it yourself.
- Teal organizations employ creative individuals who seek self-realization. Such teams are very resourceful; they offer innovative products. And it is important here not to be afraid, be ready to take risks, and at times, break patterns.
- If the owner or a founder of the company likes to control everything as it happens traditionally, doubts the teal principles of management, is not ready to become a companion, to trust their colleagues, accept other person’s opinion, or quickly change priorities – there are few to zero chances to build a teal-company.
- Those accustomed to working in traditional Amber or Orange companies will have difficulties adjusting. Green management is the closest to Teal; built on family principles, sensitivity, and respect.
- The ability and willingness to delegate are much important: if the top manager doubts that an employee will do the job well, the teal won’t happen. And if the employee will only try to pin the task on someone else – this is also not a teal case.
- The main risk for teal companies is to turn into interest groups where each department makes their best effort, but no general result (in the form of net profit) can be reached. The problem is that "doing a great job" is a concept that everyone perceives in their own way. That’s why a Big Idea has to exist. It can be defined by linking the results of each employee’s work to specific indicators and figures. These figures must be not just made up from air but stated in the annual business plan or a certain financial model, which will fix a clear list of targets in each area of your business.
If you want to enjoy your work, having a fun working process with an energetic and creative team, in a comfortable environment, with maximum opportunities for self-expression and action – look for teal companies. There are more and more of them, both in the United States and outside. You will notice the blinks of Teal right at the interview: it will be held by a team, in an informal environment, with no dress code prescribed, and will be focused on you – what you want, what you strive to do or become, and what you can do. The task of such an interview is to match the emotions, inner motivations, and aspirations of the team with the new employee. All the usual formalities such as where, how, and when you do your job – are secondary. The joint result is the top priority for the teal team!