3 Ways You're Practicing Teal

Posted by Cheryl Adas

Have you been paying attention? The business community is starting to notice what’s working and it’s trending Teal.

Today Alone

People Together-2.jpgA quick cruise on LinkedIn this morning turned up pieces on how to build a more creative culture and decrease stress by tasking more to your employees. Meanwhile, Entrepreneur published “5 Reasons to Become a Benefit Corporation.” Harvard Business Review explained “What to do When You Inherit a Team That Isn’t Working Hard Enough.” Strategy + Business released a catchy infographic; “Guide to Leading the Next Industrial Revolution” with the first step being to rethink your business model.

It’s all so inspiring, isn’t it!? We get excited, because all these examples — every single one — fits into a Teal strategy.

But then it happens. After your delicious shot of Teal Kool-Aid, you go back to work and reality returns in a hurry – too many meetings, inefficiencies, creativity-squashing policies, and stifling administrative overreach prevent you from moving towards anything meaningful.

Or so you think.

Unless you’re working for the mafia, chances are pretty high there are Teal tactics being practiced in your organization. How do you find them? Follow the success trail. 

What do I mean by this? Here’s an example of Teal turning up in the most un-Teal-like place imaginable; smack dab in the middle of 1980s corporate culture.

Back to the Future

There was no Teal in the 1980s. The idea of a “Teal” organization entered the fringe of mainstream thinking in the United States in 2014 when author Frederick Laloux released his book, Reinventing Organizations where he identified the paradigms of how people have worked together in large organizations. Then he color-coded each paradigm.

My story starts in 1985. Celebrated management practices touted highly structured, numbers-driven, rigid, and compartmentalized departments with strict hierarchies (your standard soul-sucking cube farm). The Orange paradigm reigned supreme. 

Marriott Hotels, like its peers, fit right into Orange when it rolled out Courtyard by Marriott.Courtyard was designed to be different. It was branded as a consistent, quality hotel that provided a warm, inviting, and personal experience for weary business travelers and others on the road. In the early days, the organizational framework was structured so employees could focus all their time on guests at the hotel. Accounting, reservations, sales, and other “back of house” support functions were offsite at a regional office responsible for multiple Courtyards.

In my various roles with Marriott, and more importantly, within its rigid Orange structure, I always pushed the envelope on providing employees cross-training opportunities and creating an atmosphere of esprit des corps. 

I was part of the first regional office and with it, all the pressures of executing a new venture. I also had the luxury of being in an enabler position: a member of the regional senior leadership team that allowed for experimentation and did not discourage a paradigm shift or two! Here are the Teal tactics we implemented in our definitively non-Teal organization. And in the process, we collectively turned Courtyards by Marriott into a smashing success.

  • Authentic Engagement and Performance. In a reservation call center, boredom is an issue. How do you keep a call center employee motivated and engaged in such a repetitive job? You respect the human desire for variety. Employee insight from customer interactions were heard and shared. What could we do to make it better for our customers and employee team? I ensured that we rotated responsibilities through the reservation agent call-center so everyone had the opportunity to track daily metrics. Everyone really understood the information we were collecting and why it was important. Being part of the process, understanding and experiencing the how and the why helped all of us serve our customers in a way that we exceeded their expectations.  
  • We Invested in Our Culture. Throughout the year, we would invent special event weeks in the call-center to keep everyone energized, especially when winter just didn't want to go away. Beach Week was a definite favorite! Casual dress, lots of summer food to share, and beach towels for everyone!  Don’t forget Christmas in July! Why? Just because we needed it! This was not something upper management sprang onto staff. It was a team effort in the planning and team effort in the celebrating. Everyone was involved. Be careful here. A few party weeks don’t define culture. The culture was defined by a shared effort and fun. It was a true work hard/play hard culture and we all loved it!
  • Trust Staff with Self-Leadership. Cross training reservation agents to sales coordinators was another opportunity on how I tapped into the full talents of our people.  As we grew, we designed "Sales Coordinator Pods" - teams of workers who shared support for a group of hotels and basically managed themselves to ensure complete coverage from a customer perspective and the hotel property staff who they relied on for information of upcoming groups of guests.
  • Encourage Wholeness for Employees to Grow their Roles. In the hotel setting, the standard hierarchical organization charts were tweaked. Managers might have had two departments to oversee, to create growth and stretch opportunities. The same went for supervisors and anyone interested in expanding their horizons. Training and cross-training was a top priority as well as brainstorming workshops where hotel employees were identifying customer convenience ideas to implement and customer appreciation celebration ideas to hold during the week for our guests.

What About You?

You see? You don’t have to work in a Teal-minded organization to implement Teal tactics. Furthermore, I’m confident you are currently implementing at least three in your current role … if not more! 

If you need some help identifying them, try our complimentary Teal Organizational Readiness Assessment. It’s filled with specific lists of action items organized by various functionalities within an organization. Pinpoint what you are doing and doing well!

Conversely, a few Teal tactics do not make a Teal organization. But they are a great way to seed and encourage a larger effort. And surely, the effort of creating a prosperous, agile organization with shared sense of purpose and engaged employees is a common rallying point?

A Teal organization is not a quick achievement. It’s built incrementally, bit-by-bit, person-by-person, slowly moving forward, adapting, stretching and innovating. Find your successes, and build from there.

Welcome to the conversation.

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Culture, Strategy & Profits

Cheryl Adas is powered by bringing out the best in others. As a specialist in sales evolution leadership, she has helmed the progressive advancement of numerous large-scale sales processes. Accomplishments include launching Courtyard by Marriott Hotels and rolling out The Challenger Sale to more than 1000 sales leaders, professionals and support teams at Xerox Corporation. Today she works as the Lead Consultant at Beyond Teal. 

Topics: teal

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