Effective Workplace Communication. How Does It Work in a Teal Organization?

Effective Workplace Communication. How Does It Work in a Teal Organization?

Jarek Jarzębowski - April 22, 2022

Workplace communication is one of those things that employees often take for granted. Unfortunately, for many companies, it is not as simple as it might seem at first glance, and many people complain about the communication culture in the workplace.

At nexocode, we believe that communication is a critical element of organizational culture, so we take it very seriously. nexocode is a teal organization following the evolutionary purpose of creating people-centric software with AI and novel technologies. We want to bring a deeper sense of purpose and humanity into the workplace. Our approach is constantly evolving because we believe in agility in terms of project implementation, as well as how we operate daily. In this article, I want to share the best practices and principles of workplace communication that we follow.

Teal Organizations and Why Effective Communication Methods Are Key in This Organization Structure?

To understand how communication works in a teal organization, we first need to take a look at what a teal culture is. At nexocode, we embrace the concept of a teal structure and believe that it has many benefits for both our team and our clients.

Red organizations’ structures are based on a hierarchy where communication is often top-down (pack of wolves, mafia, or street gangs). In amber organizations, communication is often seen as a necessary evil - something that needs to be done to get the job done, but not something that is particularly valued. The focus is on getting the task at hand completed with centralized control, and communication is seen as a means to that end (army, catholic church, government agencies). Orange organizations have a focus on meritocracy and are results-oriented, and communication is seen as a tool to achieve those results (corporations). In green organizations, communication is more horizontal, but there is still a transparent chain of command (family members). In teal organizations, the traditional hierarchical structure is replaced by self-management. This means that everyone has a say in how the company is run, and there is a strong focus on collective decision-making.

Reinventing organizations - from red organizations to teal organizations

Reinventing organizations - from red organizations to teal organizations

In teal organizations, team communication is decentralized, and everyone has a voice. To communicate effectively, teal organizations focus on fostering peer relationships and self-management. This approach often leads to better communication because it encourages transparency and openness.

There are many benefits to this type of structure, but one of the most important is that it allows for more open and honest two-way communication. When everyone feels like they have a say, they are more likely to share information and give feedback. This leads to better decision-making and a stronger team overall.

Principles of Effective Internal Communication

In a teal company, communication is vital. It is the lifeblood of the company and the foundation on which everything else is built. At nexocode, we place a strong emphasis on communication and feedback. We believe that regular communication between team members is essential for building trust and collaboration. We also use various tools and strategies to facilitate workplace communication, including our slack communication, daily syncs, and monthly meetings.

Communication is not just about sharing information and building self-managed teams in teal organizations. It’s about creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions. Here are the rules that allow us to keep internal communication at the appropriate level:

Transparency

Transparency is the guiding principle at nexocode which strongly differentiates us from other companies. Many organizations talk about transparency – we not only speak but are internally fully transparent. We share with each other virtually any information: the progress of projects or our decisions regarding the software and tools we use. We also give our employees complete insight into the company’s revenues and costs, as well as the salaries of individual staff members (all that while some companies struggle with being transparent in salary range). For some, it could be the kind of transparency that entails pain, but for us, it’s embedded in the company’s DNA, and it’s a kind of mental attitude.

When we talk about such a transparent approach, some people raise their eyebrows and are genuinely surprised that such an approach is even possible. Some people may question it for being too radical. Still, as an evolutionary teal organization, we believe it is the best solution for us.

Openness

There is another essential principle connected with transparency – openness to communicate. Merely transparent transfer of information will not work if there is no openness to receiving the message back in the first place. Believe me; it is not always easy. We are all just people, but we always try to be open-minded and accept every piece of feedback with at least a certain amount of curiosity.

This means that each member of the nexocode team can voice their opinion on basically any topic or express their dissatisfaction about something. For example, you are free to say you do not like the company’s idea for a corporate retreat or that you would appreciate more opportunities for uninterrupted deep work, or that a given policy is simply nothing for you. Openness to negative feedback is, in our opinion, a key aspect of working in well-functioning and mature teams.

This principle seems simple, but its implementation and working in accordance with it may not always be easy.

Engagement and Self-Management

When looking for new hires, we attach great importance to talking about communication and culture. We also discuss each person’s role in the organization to encourage the most outstanding possible level of engagement further on. This does not mean that everyone has to read everything and commit to everything (see point 5). However, we want a team that stands for nexocode values. We want a sense of common purpose and direction, which cannot be achieved without self-discipline and commitment to communication.

Excellent hiring practices are not enough, of course. If one wants to create highly engaging communication, especially in remote teams, it is worth remembering that it must be simple, adequate, and attractive.

Continuity

Communication is not, or at least should not be, a one-off event. Well-functioning internal communication should be continuous – always up to date and complete. The idea is to add new pieces of information relatively regularly and share them with all the stakeholders. I should also mention that we should all be aware that even if there is no feedback on the information you share, it does not mean it is unimportant and ineffective!

Voluntariness

People may not want to read everything, and that’s perfectly fine! Internal communication should be voluntary (at least to some degree because some key issues should be commented on). On the other hand, senders should do everything they can to make the recipients care about what they are saying. It is worth remembering that what is most important to you does not necessarily have to be crucial for the other party. A healthy distance and the ability to put yourself into the recipient’s shoes are handy.

Asynchronicity/Synchronicity

Technology has allowed us to use asynchronous communication. Not everyone has to be available and responsive all the time. This can be done not only remotely but also asynchronously. It is enough to implement appropriate channels and rules of communication, i.e., The frequency at which we check internal communication channels. It is worth being aware that, especially today, there are many more efficient ways to communicate than using the company e-mail. Whether it’s Slack, Teams, or Discord, it is essential to choose a tool that will work for you and which we will be able to use.

How Do We Communicate?

At nexocode, we use a variety of communication channels, including video conferencing (Zoom, Google Meet), chat (Slack), project management tools (Jira, ClickUp), and of course email. But these are just the basics that you might see in every other software development company.

Wondering how communication works in teal organizations and why it is different? Here’s a quick overview of our fundamental ways to keep communication streamlined and create inner wholeness:

  • communication is continuous, frequent, and up-to-date
  • communication is voluntary (we believe in self-organization) and based on trust
  • communication is focused on providing feedback in order to let everybody grow and learn
  • communication skills are something we always work on
  • communication is simple, adequate, and attractive

We believe that effective communication is essential to the success of any organization. That’s why we are constantly striving to improve the way we communicate with each other.

One of the most important things we do to ensure effective communication is to give and receive feedback regularly. We believe that feedback is crucial for individual and team development, and we strive to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable giving and receiving feedback.

We also place great importance on sharing information openly. We want everyone to be as informed as possible so that they can make the best decisions for the company. To that end, we have an open communication policy where everyone is encouraged to share information freely. The most important thing to remember is that communication is a two-way street. It’s not enough to just send information; we also need to make sure that the recipients are able to understand and process it.

Lastly, we believe that communication should be continuous and always up-to-date. We regularly add new pieces of information and share them with all the stakeholders. This way, everyone is always informed about what’s going on in the company.

Effective communication is essential for any organization, but it can be especially challenging in a remote environment. At nexocode, we use a variety of communication channels and tools to ensure that everyone is always informed and has the opportunity to give and receive feedback. These strategies have helped us create a strong culture of communication and collaboration, which are essential for our success as a company.

It is impossible to give a single, universal answer to the question of how communication should look in a teal organization. It all depends on the specifics of the company, its culture, and its values. What works for us at nexocode may not work for you. Still, I hope that the following strategies that work here at nexocode will help you think about communication in your own organization and find an approach that will work best for you and your team!

Feedback

We believe that feedback is one of the essential development tools for all of us, which is also why we encourage people to share their opinions. In the first days of onboarding, each new hire is introduced to the primary forms of feedback and how to use them effectively. We do this in an asynchronous-synchronous form. We prepared a short webinar on feedback, which we show to each new person to watch at a convenient time. Then, this topic is further discussed in a meeting. In practice, we provide feedback to each other in an unstructured manner during regular conversations but also in a structured, replicable process through:

  1. Kudos – the first form of nexocode feedback. We have created a structure through which you can easily give your kudos to a specific person. Then, during our casual meeting each Friday, we read the kudos to make the day pleasant for the person.
  2. Officevibe - we regularly gather anonymous feedback on critical metrics by deploying the Officevibe app, which asks us a few simple questions, like “On a scale from 0-10, how likely are you to recommend your organization as a good place to work?” or “On a scale Are you comfortable in your work environment?”. It is automated and allows us to feel the pulse of the organization.
  3. Mood check - apart from biweekly Officevibe, we also have a daily mood checker. In the afternoon, a bot on Slack asks us to assess our mood that day - lame/average/very good. If we see that there might be something going on, we ask and create space for talking about potential issues.
  4. P2P Feedback– kudos is a short and fun form, and, as such, it does not work well for feedback on personal development areas. For this purpose, we hold a more extended peer-2-peer feedback session every few months so that everyone can provide more detailed, written feedback for their colleagues.
  5. Code Review – both kudos and P2P sessions can relate to all aspects of work. Still, as a technology company, we intensely focus on critical technical skills, which is why we implement regular and thorough code reviews as part of our feedback efforts. Head over to episode #three of our Dev Story Podcast to learn more about our approach to the art of code review and clean code.

Information From Various Areas of the Company

a. AMA (Ask Me Anything) – this allows our Founder to address various topics related to the company. You are free to submit any question. It’s also a way for Radek to inform us about what is currently happening in the company.

b. People & Culture – updating what is happening in the HR area – current recruitments, current Employer Branding activities, and new initiatives.

c. Sales & Marketing – we share updates on where we stand in the sales and marketing area. This includes an overview of the ongoing sales talks, their effects, and potential next steps.

d. Product Update - we are a software house, but we also have our own product - Advocu. Not everyone is involved in working on that product, but we still want to keep everyone updated about our progress.

Other Means of Communication

a. Say Hello – a daily opportunity for a short meeting over coffee to get to know your colleagues better. It’s usually a 15-30 minute talk about various work-related and unrelated things

b. Random and Share Channels on Slack – this is where we regularly share various exciting facts from the world of technology and more. Among other things, we use it to recommend books, movies, series, and interesting places.

c. Monthly Teal Meetings - Face-to-face communication is just as important, especially when your organization is remote-first. Every last Friday of the month, we have a monthly team meeting where we talk about how the company is doing, our goals, and current progress, and allow everyone to share their thoughts. It is also the moment to integrate and build personal connections as we usually participate in workshops or other fun activities and finish each teal meeting with dinner.

How to Do It at Your Company?

Creating organizations inspired by the teal paradigm is not an easy change. It is a way of thinking about how people can work together that departs from the traditional, hierarchical model and moves towards self-management. This shift affects all aspects of communication within a company. If you want to introduce teal communication practices in your organization, here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Plan Your Communication and Create a Strategy

Communication should not be done on a whim if it is to be effective. It is worth asking a few key questions first:

  • What does your internal communication look like?
  • What do you want it to look like?
  • How can you approach the process of building communication skills between coworkers?
  • What tools and possibilities are available?
  • What are the immediate actions you should take?
  • How to make sure you keep moving forward?

2. Set Out the Rules

Everyone in the company should know well what the basic rules are. For senior staff (the average length of work in a nexocode development team is four years), such practices are usually prominent and don’t need to be written down. However, not everyone understands the same aspects the same way, so some rules should be agreed upon. In addition, each new hire can be a challenge if such rules are not clearly established.

In the case of nexocode, the overriding principles are transparency, honesty, and openness, which allows us to implement our vision of a teal organization.

3. Choose Your Tools

When the team works remotely and asynchronously, it is necessary to provide appropriate tools to support communication. Fortunately, there is plenty to choose from on the market. In the case of nexocode, Slack is the main channel of communication – primarily asynchronous. In addition, we use Google Meet for meetings and hold a company meeting once a month for organizational and integration purposes.

4. Encourage Cross-Team and Cross-Level Communication

Communication in a well-functioning organization flows in different directions. In large corporations, unfortunately, there are often silos in which information flows quite freely within one department or a hierarchy that causes the organization to flow only at different levels of the organization. Good communication, however, should provide access to information to all interested parties. Therefore, it is worth encouraging the inter-team exchange of knowledge and information when implementing good communication practices, e.g., creating appropriate cyclical meetings or cross-functional projects.

5. Repeat What Should Be Repeated – But Don’t Overdo It

Good communication should add value, and people should be generally happy with it. This means that a balance has to be found between informing and overinforming. Important things that are crucial for the organization’s functioning, ones that we should focus on, should be reiterated. At the same time, it is impossible to allow a situation when employees are flooded with general or non-essential information. Therefore, it is worth establishing the mandatory and voluntary elements.

6. Listen and Adapt

Socrates said, “we have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak” – and he was absolutely right. One of the key elements of internal communication – probably the most important one – is being able to listen. What works today may not work in a month. What works for one company may not work for another. That is why all rules and recommendations should be filtered, adapted to each other, and constantly analyzed if – and how – they work.

If you would like to talk to me about our company culture after reading this article, you can find me on LinkedIn and if you are interested in applying to nexocode - find out more about our vacancies at our Careers Page.

About the author

Jarek Jarzębowski

Jarek Jarzębowski

People & Culture Lead

Linkedin profile Twitter

Jarek is an experienced People & Culture professional and tech enthusiast. He is a speaker at HR and tech conferences and Podcaster, who shares a lot on LinkedIn. He loves working on the crossroads of humans, technology, and business, bringing the best of all worlds and combining them in a novel way.
At nexocode, he is responsible for leading People & Culture initiatives.

Have some questions?

We’re happy to answer! You can directly
contact Jarek, who’s got all the info you may need.

Jarek Jarzębowski
People & Culture Lead

jarek.jarzebowski@nexocode.com

ASK JAREK on SLACK

This article is a part of

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Running Teal

Take an insider's look into nexocode organization culture and our path towards the teal structure. We're committed to fostering growth and open communication with all employees so that everyone feels like they belong and can thrive in their work environment.

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