When we think of the environment where a journey to Teal is most capable of succeeding, we likely imagine a tech company with a massive office space that has every workspace perk imaginable. Although self-management has been proven to exist in a wide variety of industries through books like Reinventing Organizations and Beyond Empowerment, we often still think of these examples as outliers who somehow managed to break the mold and exceed expectations. Luckily, any organization can become Teal with the right structure and support. In this article, we'll discuss how to go about pursuing Teal concepts if your organization isn't your standard office job.
No matter the industry, type of work, or geographical location, all self-managed organizations share a few things. In Reinventing Organizations, the 3 factors that Teal companies display is self-management, wholeness, and evolutionary purpose. On a basic level, that means you need a few things, regardless of what your work looks like:
People have autonomy in how they work
People can be themselves
The organization cares about something more than just making money
Another more concrete way of achieving these things is through the following methods:
Thankfully, none of these require an office, technology, or any other specific working environment. Every time you begin to question how to make it work in your industry, shift the attention back to one of these three focal points to keep you anchored on what really matters.
Define Your Own Requirements
Even among similar industries, every company is unique. It might be for culture regions, geographical limitations, size or profits, company values, or any number of other reasons. In order to figure out how to make Teal work in your organization, it's vital to define how things currently work, what is necessary, and what your limitations are.
If you work in engineering and deal with dangerous equipment, safety protocols will be a far bigger factor than they would be for an online retailer. Those safety requirements need to be built in as a top priority for training, hiring, expectations, and everything else. If you make food for public consumption, there will be strict laws and regulations that you must adhere to at every step of the process. These are all challenges that the "typical" work environment either doesn't need to deal with at all or has far less potential risk and impact if they do.
It's not just rules and regulations you want to consider, but also the culture and environment of your workplace that might differ from the norm. If nearly all your employees are comfortable with face-to-face conflict, then a more direct conflict resolution process is ideal. If there are lots of people working various shifts, then any training program that requires classroom attendance is likely off the table. If your work environment is incredibly busy and fast-paced, you will need process that are quick and simple if you want anyone to actually use them.
Only once your unique needs are defined can you build out a process that will work for you.
Look At Other Examples
As mentioned above, multiple books have addressed several ways that a variety of companies structure and organize. They each operate in very different ways and work in fields unrelated to one another. There are tomato processing plants that are completely flat and employ both full-time and seasonal employees. There are non-profit nursing companies that emphasize personal autonomy for the greater good of individual clients. There are oil industry manufacturers with a limited hierarchy that give people voting power over decisions.
Even if none of these individual ideas would work for your unique company and needs, they can provide a starting point or options to consider. Perhaps you can use a customized version of a preexisting solution or take bits and pieces of what you like from various companies and mix them together to make your own method. Or, maybe you use these examples simply for process of elimination to define what you do and don't like and why.
Implementing change is never easy, especially changes as big and scary as steering your unconventional workplace into the world of Teal. If this article has applied to you, there's a good chance nobody has yet done what you are trying to do, which can make it that much more difficult to feel confident that you're doing it right. Take plenty of time to research, come up with options, and talk to as many of your employees as possible to get perspectives and opinions.
Once you've done your due diligence, start trying your concept, even if it's just a trial run or with a small team. Check how it works in real time. Ask for feedback and track its success. Based on that, you can see what does and doesn't work. You can either adjust the specifics of what you've implemented or scrap it entirely if it doesn't work as planned. Either way, you're making progress, you're innovating, and you're striving to create a better workplace.