Fit for the Role, Organization, and Culture - Recruitment in a Teal Organization

Fit for the Role, Organization, and Culture - Recruitment in a Teal Organization

Jarek Jarzębowski - June 22, 2022

Recruitment seems simple - there is a vacancy, we look for a person who can do what we need, we check their skills and if they are good enough, we hire another engineer. Is this the reality? Is it that simple? Definitely not! Recruitment is not only a moment to find a person who can, for example, code at the appropriate level - recruitment is also, and maybe even above all, a moment to check the so-called culture fit, which is definitely not as obvious as some might think.

Why Do We Focus So Much on the Recruitment Process?

People are a vital part of any organization, but in a teal company like nexocode, people ARE the organization. Processes and products are developed by the people, and customers interact with the people, and we ourselves spend time with the people (each other). This also means that in a teal company you cannot afford to be reckless with whoever joins the company. What’s more, in the case of a company that employs about 20-50 employees, each new person that joins, naturally has a significant impact on the entire company. It is different with large corporations, where people are just cogs in a more giant machine and one new employee is being treated sometimes as just a number. Fortunately, nexocode is definitely different and everyone is treated individually here because everyone has a real impact on how the company looks and operates.

Some companies only look at hard skills when recruiting - knowledge of the programming language, framework, domain experience, etc. - in our opinion, however, such an approach to recruitment is insufficient because it means that we may overlook the cultural aspects that will affect the intangible, but also important aspects. We are all much more than the hard skills we know.

In nexocode, we strongly appreciate such values ​​as ownership, self-awareness, maturity, and responsibility and we try to develop them in ourselves, but at the same time, we are fully aware that not everyone could find themselves in a place with such values. Consequently, we understand that these are the elements that we must pay special attention to during the recruitment process.

How Long Should the Recruitment Process Take?

Many people, both on the side of recruiters and candidates, argue that the process should be as short as possible. In a way, this is true, but it is also incomplete. Simply put, the recruitment process should be as short as possible, but not shorter. It may seem absurd at first glance but stay with me.

The prolonged recruitment process means that some candidates decide on the offer that will appear first, especially if this offer comes with a validity date. From the perspective of the candidate looking for a job, it is natural that he wants a job, not an intangible opportunity. This leads to the conclusion that the company should in fact submit an offer to the candidate as soon as possible, preferably after the first interview. Otherwise, he or she could go the other way. However, this would be a wrong conclusion as it does not consider the second part of the sentence mentioned above. “The recruitment process should not be shorter than possible” and by this I mean that the process should last as long as required to check all essential requirements and should not be extended beyond that.

In the case of a teal company - the key requirements go beyond technical skills, so the process itself may take longer than in the case of some companies that do not pay so much attention to the elements of the relationship or the quality of cooperation. We do understand that it may mean that some people will choose another company, but we also know that we need to maintain the standards we believe in.

How to Check the Intangible?

Checking technical skills seems quite simple because they are more evident and easy to ask and answer. Checking soft skills, predispositions, and fit to the organization and role, however, for many people, is too intangible. This does not mean it is not possible, as our experiences show.

During recruitment, we take general questions very seriously, so - if you talk to someone from nexocode as part of your recruitment - you should not be surprised by our drilling and asking what your expectations for work are, what are your expectations towards colleagues, what do you like in your work and what you don’t, what you learned from a given experience, what you would do differently today, why you made a choice to start or stop studying. Interestingly, there is no one and only right answer to these questions, because only the answer to a larger portion of them allows us to build a particular image of who the candidate is.

We ask about expectations because we want the person who joins nexocode to feel good here, fulfill their intentions and goals, and truly want to stay here as long as possible (it is no coincidence people do stay long years at nexocode). For example, we know that we cannot provide team management experience, because our culture does not have typical hierarchical teams. In such a situation, however, we often ask what is beyond the willingness to manage the team. Of course, it may turn out that it is really about the possibility of influence, which is negligible in some companies until a managerial position is achieved. In the teal nexocode organizational culture, the possibility of influencing and deciding is not, however, associated with a formally held position, but rather with expertise, responsibility, and maturity.

Similarly, questions about what you would not like to do and what you do not like in general will show us whether things that are normal for us, such as high involvement in company-wide discussions, the decision-making process, or representing the organization externally, will not make you frustrated, and eventually look for another place.

During recruitment, we also pay great attention to how the candidate talks about cooperation, his role in the team, involvement in projects, and relations with representatives of other departments/professions. All of this has real meaning and potentially shows whether the person will fit in with the team and the entire company.

At the same time, it is also important to check the role fit, which is a combination of personality predispositions, and soft and hard skills. We verify this aspect in many ways, on the one hand, during a typical interview, and on the other hand, during a task, which is a standard stage of the nexocode recruitment process.

Teal Practices During Recruitment Process

During the recruitment process at a teal organization like nexocode, we focus on several important aspects, that cover various teal practices and our value-driven culture:

Highlight our Teal Organizational Structure and Culture

We know that teal organizations are not the norm yet, and that’s why we spend a lot of time talking about the emerging organization model like teal and our culture during recruitment. We want people who apply to us to be aware of how we work and what they can expect from a teal organization, like nexocode. Only then will they be able to make an informed decision about whether they want to work within our teal structure or not.

Of course, this also means we are promoting our approach to teal management, highlighting the benefits of such a structure for our employees. We want candidates to know about our focus on trust, self-management, and ownership. We also want them to understand what transparency means for nexocode (e.g. the fact we have completely transparent company finances and compensation), how we communicate, how we empower our employees to grow (e.g. our 24 days a year New Horizons Program to focus on personal development projects), and finally, how even though we are a remote-first company we still focus on building peer relationships though our monthly teal meetings.

Within the highly competitive process of IT recruitment, a company needs to present itself in an attractive way in order to stand out from the crowd and be noticed by potential candidates. Still, it needs to be done in an honest way. We cannot afford to overpromise things we won’t be able to deliver to our new hire. That is why we also want to know what candidates expect from nexocode, and whether their expectations are realistic.

About, what IT companies can offer to candidates and unkept promises I talk more during one of nexocode’s DevStory podcast, the episode with Dawid Perdek.

Looking for Candidate Features that Show Self-Management and Ownership

When we look at a candidate’s CV or during our meetings, we don’t just focus on their technical skills or professional experience. We understand that talents that are earlier in their careers might not have had the opportunity to show us 10+ experience working in the IT field, but we try to look for signs that show their potential for growth and ownership. We don’t ask questions about your career gaps, but if there is something special about it, please share it with us!

Another thing is technical education. Seeing somebody with a professional degree is a plus, but seeing a candidate that doesn’t have 5 years of university behind or the diploma, and yet the person is able to showcase a kickstarted career within IT is also impressive.

We also look for features that might show they have the potential to be a self-managing and responsible employee. For example, we might look for evidence of them taking initiative in their previous roles, or examples of them going above and beyond what was expected of them. We want to see that they are capable of taking ownership of their work and taking responsibility for their own development.

Similarly, during the interview process, we focus on questions that will help us understand the candidate’s approach to work and their attitude towards taking on responsibility. We want to know if they are the type of person who is comfortable working independently, or if they prefer to be given clear instructions and guidance. We also ask them about how they have handled challenges in their previous roles, and what they have done to develop their skills and knowledge.

Hiring People, Not Positions and Fluid Job Titles and Descriptions

In a teal organization, job descriptions are not set in stone. We don’t hire people to fill positions, but rather we look for the right people to join our team and contribute to our collective goal and the company’s evolutionary purpose. This means that job descriptions are fluid and can change over time as our needs and objectives evolve.

Even though on our careers page, you’ll find some job offers with specific technologies or frameworks named in the job offer title itself, we are looking for people that have wide competencies and feel comfortable with various tasks. We like to refer to members of our dev team as Software Engineers, to enable them conscious, long-term development within software engineering and architecture, agnostic to current technological trends (which does not change the fact that they are often also experts in specific solutions).

People with an interest in fields different from their daily tasks are also encouraged to participate in our focus circles (we have ones for engineering, design, sales, marketing, and people relations). We value opinions and insights from every team member, regardless of their formal roles or area of expertise.

We also understand that people’s needs and interests change over time, which is why we encourage our team members to openly discuss their career goals and development plans with others. We want to help our team members grow and develop in their careers, and we are open to exploring different role possibilities and tasks that might better suit their needs.

Focus on Transparency, Communication, and Feedback

In a teal organization, communication is key. We value transparency and open communication, and we believe that everyone should have a voice in the decision-making process. We aim to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas, opinions, and feedback openly.

To facilitate this during our recruitment process, we use a variety of methods to keep candidates informed and updated throughout the process. We provide regular feedback at each stage of the process, so candidates always know where they stand and what they need to do to improve their chances of being successful.

We are also transparent about compensation levels, and we make sure that candidates know what to expect before they accept a job offer. We want our team members to feel comfortable discussing their compensation with us, and we are open to negotiating salaries based on what the candidate is presenting during the process.

Team Decision-Making

We understand that IT recruitment and hiring top talent is not easy. In teal organizations, recruitment is a process that involves the whole company, not just HR or management. This is because we believe that everyone in the company has a role to play in creating a positive and productive working environment. We also believe that everyone should have a say in who joins the team, as they will be the ones working closely with the new hire.

This means that during the recruitment process, we involve various employees, from the very beginning. We also use an opt-in transparent and open strategy for the process meaning that people you meet during interviews are folks that voluntarily decided to meet and get to know you. No one in a teal organization is forced to interview candidates they are not interested in. This way, we not only get to know the candidate better, but we also give our employees a chance to get to know them and see if they would be a good fit for our team.

What Does the Teal Recruitment Process Look Like in Practice?

Our teal organization follows replicable processes for recruitment to enable fair decision-making. When you look at the steps and their names you won’t tell it is any different from a standard IT recruitment process, but in detail it actually is different.

Recruitment in teal organization like nexocode

Our hiring process

Stage 0 - Initial Application Evaluation

The zero stage means the first verification, even without the candidate’s participation. This means CV evaluation in the case of active recruitment or, for example, LinkedIn profile, where we are actively looking for a candidate. We pay attention to the described experience, but also to additional activities, such as activities in student organizations or activities in open source projects.

Stage 1 - Quick Phone Interview

The first key step is usually a phone call that lasts about 15-30 minutes and is conducted by me. It is when we pay a lot of attention to mutual expectations and the possibility of meeting them. I also try to tell a lot about nexocode quite accurately so that the candidate knows exactly whom he would potentially join, with whom and what he will work on, what our values ​​are, how we work and what is particularly important to us. Sometimes it happens that such a detailed description of the company - without omitting complex topics - causes some people to resign from further recruitment. For some companies, it would mean a failure, but for us, it means that we have prevented a situation in which we would lead to a place where mutual expectations do not meet the possibility of meeting them.

Stage 2 - 1st Technical Interview

Once we know that we get along, the next stage is a video call during which colleagues from the team will check your technical knowledge and skills. You will also find out what the projects look like from the inside, and get to know our workflow and organization within teams.

Here we focus on asking the right questions during recruitment. We want to know not only what our candidates’ skills and experience are, but also how they think and what their values are. This allows us to get a better idea of whether they will be a good fit for our team and our company culture.

We always like to do simulations. They may include, for example, a situation in which the candidate is placed in the role of a solution presenter and has to clearly articulate some decisions and negotiate the final shape of the idea with the team. This allows us to see how they think and what their communication process is like. It is also how we try to build a personal connection.

Stage 3 - Practical Assignment To Evaluate Hard and Soft Skills and Self Management

A practical task is our standard. During this stage, we pay a lot of attention not only to the effect of the task but also to the way of communicating, presenting the effect, and the way of thinking and reaching a solution. That’s why we don’t like homework that is simply sent back or bare tests to test skills and predispositions. They could be, of course, a simplification and a sure way to take shorten the process, but we are convinced that it is a road usually not worth taking and it is much better to get involved in the process personally, deepen some threads and understand not only the effect but also the path leading to this effect. The task itself can be very different - from technical tasks for engineering roles to more creative for the role of a designer.

Stage 4 - Cultural Fit

The last stage of the recruitment process is an interview with a wider group. Due to the fact that we do not work in typical hierarchical teams, but we all work in one organization, more people can and should have a say in the context of hiring a new person. That is why we invite someone from the Back End and Product Management to meetings with a Front End Developer. Same for a Product Designer, that can expect to meet colleagues working in sales and engineering teams. Since we are all going to work together on one solution, it makes sense for everyone to be able to have their say.

Stage 5 - Team Decision Making Based on Collective Intelligence and Feedback

The last stage of recruitment is a team decision. As I mentioned earlier, our teams are not typical hierarchical structures in which the leader decides who will join the team. We believe that collective intelligence works much better and allows for more objective assessment. That is why we make decisions together as a team, based on the feedback of all those who took part in the process. It is also worth noting that this is also not a democratic vote - each team member has an option to veto the team decision, but they have to clearly articulate the reasons for this decision. This allows us to avoid situations in which someone would be hired only because they have more friends in the team than another candidate, or if within the process one of the nexocode team members noticed that we are rushing into a decision.

The whole process in the case of nexocode is very transparent, so everyone involved has an impact on it, and at the same time, they know what the current status is or why the decision is being made.

It is also worth noting that the transparency of the process in the case of nexocode means that each candidate is compared with the developed competency matrix, thanks to which we are more sure that the entire process is as fair as possible

Becoming a Part of a Teal Organization

The teal organization recruitment process is different from the standard approach, as it focuses on values and culture fit, rather than simply skills and experience. We believe that this process allows us to find people who will not only be technically competent but also a good fit for our company culture. We are convinced that it is possible to create a teal organization in which everyone can develop their full potential and contribute to the company’s success.

All this makes the process not the shortest, but the shortest acceptable to us. Following that process makes us sure that our new colleague is fit for the role, organization, and culture.

Do you want to become a part of nexocode? We are always looking for talented and passionate people to join our team! If you think you have what it takes, don’t hesitate to check our careers page and get in touch.

About the author

Jarek Jarzębowski

Jarek Jarzębowski

People & Culture Lead

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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?

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contact Jarek, who’s got all the info you may need.

Jarek Jarzębowski
People & Culture Lead

jarek.jarzebowski@nexocode.com

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