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What might teal hiring look like?

Hiring is risky. If you’re lucky enough to find the right person they drastically contribute to the success of your company.  Making an unlucky mistake and hiring a bad apple, on the other hand, can negatively influence your entire organization.  This is another post in the teal series to map out possible futures of what teal practices might practically look like based on the book Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux.  This post focuses on what teal hiring might look like.

First, we’ll highlight the main practices in a predominantly orange paradigm, then what ‘teal’ hiring might look like, and finally, a rough guide to help you transition from orange to teal.

‘Orange’ hiring practices

In a traditional ‘orange’ organization hiring is usually initiated by writing a detailed job description. After the job description has been advertised, people submit resumes to initiate a long and time-intensive interview process.

The interview process mainly consists of verbal conversations. Experience is the primary measure of success rather than potential or personal career advancement opportunities.

Human resources own hiring

Typically, a recruiter trained in Human Resources filters out resumes. Only candidates who match the job description are passed on to the hiring manager. This often means people who are either not good at presenting themselves or don’t include the checklist items the recruiter is looking for, are filtered out.

The primary focus of this process is to filter out unwanted candidates rather than to find talent.

Interview based hiring

If a person manages to pass the cultural fit they are invited to an interview with the hiring department manager. This interview typically focuses on verifying the information in the resume.  The candidate’s personality is also evaluated to see if it is a fit for the manager.  The team that the person will work with often never meets the new hire before their start date.

Permanent hire decisions

When everyone agrees, the candidate is offered a full-time contract. There is usually a 3 – 6 months probation period before a contract becomes binding, however, the intent when making the offer is that the person will become a long-standing team member.

This means a lot of time and money gets invested upfront, making hiring expensive and very risky.  Sometimes as much as a full month is dedicated to training before a person is entrusted with more productive work.

Teal hiring practices

Where the focus of hiring in a predominantly ‘orange’ organization is based on fit with the job description, ‘teal’ hiring focuses on fit for purpose and culture.

Teal hiring also evaluates mindset to a bigger degree.  Personal qualities like responsibility or creative problem-solving are other focus areas during the initial evaluation.

Another key difference in approaching hiring is to reduce risk. Teal hiring handles recruitment more like a growing relationship rather than a logical once-off decision.

Evaluation considerations

Rather than look for a match to a defined job description, the focus when Teal organizations hire is on problem-solving.

Typically, the job description is a problem statement, inviting candidates to submit possible solutions. Thus, regardless of the specific skill set the candidate might have in terms of experience, the focus is on how they can apply these skills.  This approach gives much more insight into what is important to a person and how they think.  It is also a great way to evaluate the alignment between the person and the organization’s purpose and values.

The team owns hiring

Another key difference between ‘orange’ hiring and ‘teal’ hiring is who initiates the process. In a ‘teal’ organization anyone can initiate hiring. Whenever there is a need to add a skill to the team, the hiring process can be initiated.

As the team understands their challenges best and knows what they need, they are responsible for finding the right person to complete the team.

The team may typically present a business case to get approval for the expense of hiring following the advice process, or other processes if defined by the organization. They then also are responsible to find the right person, often in unconventional and unique ways.

Evidence-based hiring

Another trend popping up with hiring more aligned with ‘teal’ practices is to rely on anonymous talent assessment tests. This greatly reduces the effects of unconscious bias as candidates are matched based on their cognitive and personality skills rather than presentation, gender, age, race, or other discriminating demographics.

Contract vs full-time

As everyone is considered an autonomous and equal partner, contracts are often more flexible and preferred over full-time jobs. Everyone is considered as an independent contract, responsible for their benefits in an adult-to-adult relationship based on the transactional analysis model.

This is in contrast to the parent-child relationship of a typical ‘orange’ organization where the employer serves much like a parent, responsible for saving for a pension and providing medical benefits.

Of course, this is very unique to each organization. Several partners or employees can, for example, come together and decide to contribute to a mutual emergency or medical fund.

The key is that everyone part of the organization is treated as an independent, responsible partner rather than ‘owned’ as a full-time employee.

Value-based remuneration

Remuneration is also more flexible in a ‘teal’ organization and is dependent on the role. For example, in a retail environment where it is important to have someone present during specific hours, time is the basis for payment. For knowledge work, though, remuneration tends to be project-based or value-based rather than time-based.

Remuneration is decided upon based on the desired outcome.

Creative and community-based recruiting

Recruitment is typically done in a more creative way in ‘teal’ organizations. Rather than relying on posting job specifications and waiting for candidates to apply, recruiting might be more proactive.

For example, companies might host regular meetups where they can interact with people in a more casual setting. Or maybe they invite participants to join their Slack or Discord community where they can interact with people more intimately without any expectations.

This gives much more insight into the relationship dynamics when in a team setting. It also allows a more realistic evaluation of skills over time.

When the need arises, these forums can also be used to invite applications.

Trail paid projects

Another common trend that replaces upfront full-time hiring is inviting several candidates to participate in trial-paid projects. If the person isn’t a good fit no one loses anything and no one has to be fired.  They are simply not invited to a follow-up project or offered a more long-term contract.

If, however, someone is a good match both culturally and technically, they are invited to be added to the resource pool for future projects. It also means the financial risk of being responsible for paying salaries is not only on the employer.  The risk is split when work is handled on a project-based basis.

How to get from orange to teal

Hiring is one of the easiest areas to transition. It is simply a matter of deciding what best fits your organization and then starting with the next person required.  However, here is a rough road map that might help you transition:

1. Define problems and outcomes

Rather than rely on static job descriptions, spend some time analyzing and defining the current problem and the desired outcomes you wish to achieve by hiring someone.

2. Adapt contracts

Adapt contracts to offer project-based or value-based contracts and remuneration for new hires.  When this becomes the more accepted means of hiring, consider renegotiating full-time contracts with existing employees. Always honour their initial contract, offering them the alternative should they choose to.

3. Develop a community platform

Decide who you want to include in a community, what level of interaction you are looking for, and the level of investment required from your team as a result.  For example, do you need to appoint a dedicated community manager?  Or will you moderate conversations yourself?

Community is one of the most important parts of the future of work.  It goes far above and beyond hiring and a future post will delve into more details on community best practices.

In conclusion

Hiring is risky.  It is risky for the employer, and it is as risky for the employee.  In a typical orange paradigm where the business is viewed as a well-oiled machine, parts (or resources) can simply be hired and fired as the need arises.  In a teal paradigm, however, the well-being of the entire organism is impacted when one part’s well-being isn’t taken into consideration.

It makes sense to move to a more organic way to view hiring as a relationship rather than ownership.

Originally published on People Development Magazine: