Teal organizations: no more division into production and office workers

Teal organizations: no more division into production and office workers

23 Nov

Companies are constantly looking for process improvements, cost reduction and efficiency improvement. Will the new management methods allow us to create better jobs, more productive factories, and will we be able to feel as good at work as at the Christmas table?

“I never thought it was fun to work,” said Ron Campbell, one of HayssenSandicare’s most experienced employees, after the company underwent a positive organizational change. “When people trust them, they will work better to earn or maintain that trust,” she adds. This company, a manufacturer of integrated packaging systems, which was on the verge of bankruptcy, was bought, transformed and put on its feet by Bob Chapman.

He based his change in the company on a deep trust in people and on faith in the fundamental goodness of man. Bob Chapman eliminated the division of factory workers into blue-collar and office, removed clocks that counted the time of production workers, and office workers did not have such clocks and made both men and women treated as equal myself colleagues from work and even friends. In a short time, the atmosphere in the company became more family-like. Employees not only became more willing to help each other with problems but also took better care of their machines. These changes translated into an increase in the company’s revenue from $55 million to $95 million.

The story of this positive transformation is described by Simon Sinek in an interesting book “Leaders eat at the end”. Why do some teams work great together and others can’t? ” Bob Chapman, who has already transformed over 100 companies in a similar way, describes the culture of the organization he creates with employees and calls it Truly Human Leadership and bases it on caring for each other, compassion and uniting people.

This is just one example of the tremendous change that is taking place globally in many organizations around the world. The artificial division with production and office workers, who have completely different privileges and working conditions, finally begins to notice many managers and makes drastic changes in the way their companies are organized. The elevation of office workers in relation to production workers in traditionally managed companies is emphasized by the most popular organizational model of companies in the form of a hierarchical pyramid.

At the top of the pyramid, there is the president or director, then there are vice presidents, managers and managers, and below the next level of the hierarchy – incl. with office workers. Only at the bottom of the pyramid will we find production workers. The hierarchical pyramid, so popular in many companies, shows where the most important decisions are made, which people at particular levels are more important than others, and what is the division of labor and pay.

Fortunately, many employees, scientists, management theorists and practitioners, coaches, trainers and book authors begin to notice this unequal division. Many companies, such as Igus, which I have been managing in Poland since 2008, have given up displaying the company’s organizational structure in the form of a hierarchical pyramid.

At Igus, we have been using a “solar system” instead of a hierarchical pyramid since 1985 where the customer is at the center. We do not divide into better and worse employees, allocating better or worse parking spaces, toilets or places in the canteen. We know that each of us is an equally valuable person and each deserves deep respect and respect, no matter if you are the CEO or a telemarketer. We have shared toilets, a canteen, and parking spaces are reserved for customers only.

This positive change, which is taking place slowly in organizations around the world, is described in his interesting book Frederic Laloux and he calls companies managed in such a completely different way “turquoise organizations”. The features connecting turquoise organizations are the pursuit of fullness, self-management and the fact that the company and employees have an evolutionary goal.

Striving for wholeness means that people in the company start to treat each other primarily through the human prism, not at work, the attachment to position and status is avoided, and the key to building a new way of cooperation between employees deep respect and trust for each other.

In self-management the idea is that turquoise companies get rid of the rigid hierarchical structure, teams become flexible, and significantly accelerate the speed and efficiency of operations. Employees take responsibility and independently or collectively make decisions even on key issues. Many teams act like self-organizing companies without a boss.

The last feature of the teal organization is that the company has an evolutionary goal. This means that the purpose of the company’s existence evolves and changes depending on the environment, employees, customers or the market situation. Often times, companies move away from detailed planning, budgeting and budget control, in favor of flexible adaptation to the rapidly changing market needs. Company culture is created in which change is something completely natural.

Most interestingly, companies that undergo such a positive change improve their functioning in many respects. Employees become more engaged and responsible, the quality of manufactured products improves, costs decrease, and the owner or boss has more time and becomes more human. Innovation and efficiency are significantly improved.

The shortest definition of the turquoise organization is given by Radosław Bartosik, co-owner of the Mentax company, which is moving towards the turquoise transformation. He compares the atmosphere in the turquoise organization to the atmosphere of the closest family at the Christmas Eve table.

Both Bob Chapman, Radosław Bartosik, as well as myself and many other entrepreneurs notice that employees who are fulfilled and happy at work bring much more happiness to the entire organization, to their families and the community in which they live. However, in order for employees to feel this way at work, they cannot be treated as resources or another number in the production hall.

To change this unequal division, everyone in the organization should ask themselves:

  • How could I contribute more to the lives of others?
  • How could I make better use of my potential in the company?
  • What can I do today to make me a fuller, more fulfilled person at work?

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