Our guest, Dirk Propfe, is the CEO of Canadian technology integration company ET Group, where he helps to transform organizations by making hybrid work possible. His people-first mentality is what gives Dirk the passion and strength to help make meaningful change that inspires organizational growth and transformation. Dirk became deeply interested in TEAL organizations while achieving his Master’s Degree in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability in Sweden in 2016. He has since completely transformed ET Group into an organization that sustains itself on the drive and confidence of its team members. He has a keen interest in subjects such as self-management, structures and practices, and coaching organizations to better enable their teams and leaders to make positive change. Dirk’s determination to help companies reorganize to become happier and healthier places to work, during what has become a major shift to an increasingly hybrid world, is what inspires him to keeping working toward a better world and a brighter future.
Living Room Conversations: Employee Onboarding, The ETG Way with Dirk Propfe
Rhea = Rhea Ong Yiu (Host)
Dirk = Dirk Propfe (Guest)
RHEA: Good afternoon and good evening everyone welcome to the LIVEsciences Living Room. My name is Rhea Ong Yiu and I am hosting today’s episode number 38 of the Living Room Conversations. So why are we doing this? We are having our conversations with people who
Inspire us, who give us courage to try new things and also to fuel some new ideas around new ways of working adaptive workplaces and how we can truly impact our world today and for this episode I have a very special guest with me; he hails from Canada. He is energizing the CEO role at ET Group which is a company that specializes in hybrid experiences so without further Ado I’d like to welcome our friend and a colleague in this quest for Progressive ways of working, Dirk Propfe please join me in the Living Room Dirk.
DIRK: Thank you Rhea and great to see you again. It’s always a pleasure to chat with you and thank you everyone that joined it for watching and listening to us.
RHEA: Yeah thank you so much for joining me this afternoon here in Europe Dirk and maybe morning for you and to our viewers who are all over the world please do join us if you are in Facebook or in LinkedIn or in YouTube come with questions and come with your curiosity and join this conversation live as a it unfolds today foreign cool and yeah so for this episode, Dirk
and I thought, hey, we’re gonna talk a little bit about the ETG way of employee onboarding and I think it’s a very important topic as we are in a very much evolving space in new ways of work.
But first before we jump into that let me give the space for Dirk to actually introduce what ET group does and what the ET group way is about.
DIRK: Yeah happy to do that yeah so ET group really focuses on bringing the hybrid work experience to life so we’re a technology integrator and what we do is put the technology in place to allow people to connect and collaborate no matter where they’re from so I would say highly relevant given what happened to all of us over the last couple of years. Learning how to work in this hybrid and flexible manner and putting the technology in place to facilitate that and the way we go about doing that is using a human-centric approach. So always focus on the people understanding different perspectives and co-creating solutions with our clients and all you mentioned the ETG way so the ETG way I would say is the heart of our organization. It’s what enables us to scale but also to tap into the strengths of each
an individual that’s part of the organization so I would say it’s like a Cornerstone of who we are and how we want to show up in the world.
RHEA: I’m curious Dirk because I sense it in the language that you use but also in the way you present the ET group in your website and then in the various interactions. What inspired the ETG way?
DIRK: Yeah thank you I think a couple of things when you look at the challenges that we’re facing as a civilization you know one can quickly get a little bit depressed with the state of things from an ecological perspective but also from a social perspective. So the ETG way is a quest. It’s a journey to try and figure out a way to organize and to show up in a more sustainable manner so it’s actually really really grounded on science related to how do we create socially sustainable systems. How do we create resilience and adaptive capacity in organizations? And that’s kind of the philosophy and inspiration and then through that we’ve developed a series of practices around that.
RHEA: Yeah I’d love to know what those practices are but I think one of the things I remember in one of our conversations what’s very special to you is employee onboarding. It’s quite a big focused topic for you today. Why is it so important, why is it so valuable?
DIRK: Well maybe bring it back to like one of the things that I learned in this beautiful program in Sweden is that in order to have a healthy social system we need to have different attributes so we need to have trust we need to have diversity we need to have capacity for learning we need to have capacity for self-organization and we need to have a common meaning so onboarding I think helps with all of these things but definitely the first one which is which is trust and layering the foundation for yeah inviting people and giving them the courage to actually work in a very different way than what they’re what they’re used to. So would say you know onboarding and trust go side by side so it’s that it’s the first experience people have with a very radically different way of working so it’s you know it sets the foundation I would I would say.
RHEA: Yeah I completely align with that I have been on boarded recently myself having come from corporate right so we also come from all sorts of different backgrounds with all sorts of different experiences and coming into an organization that is probably a large part self-managing just like yours it’s a totally different culture and you need to understand
how that works right?
RHEA: Yeah absolutely cool and what’s your experience with you know this whole employee onboarding structures within ET group?
DIRK: Yeah well one has been you know if I go back seven or ten years ago and I compare what we have now to what we used to have then or didn’t used to have then I would say that we’ve learned the importance of onboarding. Especially when we’re really inviting people to step into a new way of working because you know many people come from have had experiences working in other organizations or even in their own upbringing. And when you’re, you know, starting to work in a self-managed way you need to unlearn a whole bunch of those different patterns and it really starts with onboarding which in our case starts with how we attract talent. For example before we used to hire for skill it’s like oh we need someone that can design AV systems and we would focus on that now we’re way more focused on on fits with with our ways of working and then explore the skills that they can they can bring to a table but that alignment with with our philosophy becomes even more important. So it’s a it I would say onboarding starts there and also the promise that we need to then uphold starts as we’re attracting people because ultimately what we’re promising is hey you may be doing similar work to what you were doing in the past but you’re going to be doing it in a way that feels a lot more life-giving. So it really sets the bar you know high there because we’re attracting you know top talent in the industry and then we need to obviously deliver deliver on that it’s like okay what does what does that mean so making sure we are clear about what the ET group way is or isn’t that it’s not just a collection of practices it’s actually a philosophy that informs
our ways of working if that makes sense yeah.
RHEA: Yeah and I think you have shared with us a link to your handbook right? This is the ETG
way maybe we can share this with our viewers who are watching us to kind of peer through later on in our conversation. I just wanted to take a pause there before I fire many many questions because I am very curious but I just want to invite our viewers from Facebook and YouTube and also LinkedIn. If you have any question or any curiosity don’t hesitate to type away and join us in this conversation. We are yeah we are very curious what is important to you as well and what gives you value out of this conversation yeah so you mentioned a shift in perspective right? That is something that you do with your onboarding? How does it how does that play out in real life for someone who’s like I am coming from a corporate background and I want to join an ET group what can I expect for my first seven days or two weeks?
DIRK: yeah absolutely so I think what you can expect is to feel very very differently. So a key is feature of our onboarding plan is just the amount of care and attention that we provide for new joiners I like like the thing we want to do from the get-go is is have these new joiners that really are giving us their energy to achieve things together with us we want to make sure that they feel seen heard and respected so we everything from hey we say hello and we say you know congratulations for joining the team thank you for joining the team in our in our channels and it’s amazing to see everyone from all different roles pitching in on that we also have cert like our team connects are structured in a way where we spend a fair bit of time getting to know new joiners and not just from a work perspective but from a human perspective.
So that I think that’s the biggest shift we yeah we see the human not just the role that this person will be energizing for us which I think is a big shift and our own warning is is not just focused on people learning how to use their day-to-day tools but there’s a big emphasis and focus around our ways of working as well and of course that’s not done in the first seven days that’s a that’s a longer that’s a longer Journey but we definitely set the stage in the first seven days where it’s like hey we as we discussed in as were doing our attraction and recruitment that we work very differently here’s a bit of an overview and here’s some of the key differences to what you’re used to like for example the way we make decisions is very very different. The way we provide feedback. And also we try not to overwhelm people because we have many many practices but we quickly give them resources for people that are there for example we have always a mentor for each new Joiner so they can feel comfortable around their ways of working. But we also have a buddy so to speak, which is someone that may be similar age may also be a recent Joiner so they feel comfortable to ask any types of questions around the organization. And we also have you know a great individual Mark Mike Bystric that accompanies people throughout the onboarding journey because it’s a it’s very much a an import important process and we don’t want to drop the ball anywhere along the line so it’s always nice to have someone that’s dedicated to that to that Journey.
RHEA: That’s cool and I heard three different roles that are kind of around the onboarding so the mentor, the buddy and someone who’s really overseeing this process right? Standpoint that’s very cool because I think it’s a crucial part if you start with the right perspective and with the right expectations chances are you will be able to keep your talent pool also healthy.
DIRK: Yeah and one thing we’ve also realized that onboarding never really never really stops. Especially as we’re working in different ways you know these patterns that we have and that we have learned are strong and they keep surfacing especially when the going gets rough we’re you know I think it’s human nature maybe that we go back to something we’re comfortable with. So reinforcing no not enforcing but like nourishing our ways of working on an ongoing basis becomes, you know, very very important so yeah I can maybe later explain how we’re evolving our onboarding as we scale as well.
RHEA: Yeah I’m curious how are you doing this evolution? Because I mean from a process standpoint I can understand it’s important to continuously get feedback from the new onboardies but also learning along the way and pivoting but also as you grow right? You’ve been with the company for seven years or so as energizing the role, how are the factors playing out in this evolutionary aspect?
DIRK: Yeah so I would say onboarding has become more important than ever and the reason is we’re scaling we’re scaling quickly so the you know products and services that we offer and the value we bring to our clients is is very much in demand right now as people are are learning how to work differently in a more flexible manner so we’re scaling very rapidly so in my opinion our ways of working become even more critical especially as we’re want to make sure we continue being agile and Innovative and adaptive you know this becomes so important and as you know we’re we’re now around 80 people probably by the end of the year we’ll be around 100 it becomes critical so we can really trust trust each other.
But some of the insights related to onboarding have been we used to focus a fair bit on you know making people feel welcome and then quickly getting into showing them the practices and we focused on relationships very organically and now we’re saying no actually building authentic relationships is the core so we’re putting a lot of emphasis and focus and elevating that relationship building because it really sets the foundation. For example if you’re if you’re inviting someone to provide feedback in a radically candid way there needs to be a certain amount of psychological safety and comfort with an individual with with others so it’s super important that those relationships are built so huge emphasis there. Then another piece that we’re really focusing on and this is this has been interesting and it’s a good learning they what the ETG way is and why it exists. It’s not clear for everyone as let’s say it is for me so to speak right? There’s different levels of understanding as to what the ETG ways way is or isn’t so we’re spending a fair bit of time to like just clarify that the ETG way for example is not a set of practices it’s really a philosophy that informs many of our practices but or or clarifying that hey ETG way doesn’t equal self-management self-management is one of the tools or or yeah results of our of of our way of working and or things like self-management equals Freedom it’s like no actually it’s more like self-management is is autonomy and a crazy amount of responsibility as well not not just freedom. Things of that nature that become you know very important again as we scale it’s it’s yeah even more important the other the other two things that we’re evolving is expanding reach to engage all of our team members so right now we have a very robust program for people that join us as employees but it will also work with amazing contractors folks that are in a contractor basis and we have haven’t put as much effort related to a ways of working there so that’s that’s a piece.
And also things like you know different people learn in different manners for example I love experiential learning but there’s also folks that you know yes enjoy that but we also want to have access to videos and to let’s say our handbook online so making sure we have a multi-modal strategy around our ETG way is is going to be very important.
RHEA: Okay and this is something that is work in progress I guess for you and a big focus area.
DIRK: Yeah, huge huge focus area right now.
RHEA: Yeah that is that is very cool you you mentioned something around shift in relationship and for a company that is 80 to 100 I mean my experience is that it fades as the connections grow the number of connections grow how are you ensuring that this relational aspect continues to kind of strengthen over time while you’re growing? Is this alsomething that you envision?
DIRK: Yeah absolutely I think I think we need to be more intentional around relationship building and I feel it’s a combination of you know hybrid experiences or remote experiences as well as in-person experiences because you know they’re yeah so the types of things that we do – so we’ve got our our you know what what do we call like our town halls that are on a regular basis and those are very much focused not on providing you know updates or just updates of course we provide certain updates that may be relevant for everyone. But we also spend a favorite amount of time on just helping build relationships so we you know we have a facilitator we have a few questions we do breakouts and people really just get to know each other or connect with folks that they don’t they’re not working on an ongoing basis so that’s a I would say that’s a very beautiful way that we do it and then we also have our team connects probably five or six times a year and those again are very focused on nourishing relationships and on catalyzing new relationships with people that may not be working with with each other.
And then we do things like you know many events to just bring us together in different localities so for example we’ve got a lot of people that work in and around the Toronto area and we have a you know a space there. So we, you know, host events and we host hybrid events where let’s say folks like me that can be there in person can join through different technologies and interact with people and be part of the action so to speak. So yeah it’s a combination of all of those things and it’s a priority for us. It’s not a nice to have, it’s like we know it’s super important and it also feels good.
RHEA: Yeah I was curious because during the pandemic one of the things that we have experienced is that the reality is that Town Halls are okay to run virtually pretty much. And it used to be a different mindset before the pandemic where let’s fly in everyone to the headquarters to have a town hall and how is this in your experience?
DIRK: Oh wow well we’ve been we’ve been doing hybrid events for a long time so definitely providing the ability that for people that want to join together for them to be able to do that’s like for sure we allow invite that but also we’re you know super picky with technology obviously it’s like okay but if we’re doing that how do we make sure that the experience for people that are joining remotely is also rich and very very good? So I would say now from wherever you want to join or join person and again and we’ve just spent a whole bunch and we continue iterating with putting the right technology in place to make sure that we’re creating these like beautiful experiences for everyone not just the folks in person but also the folks that are joining remotely and so to make sure that they feel included and seen and able to participate.
RHEA: And do you have a do you have like I would say somebody who’s energizing the role of organizing all of this internal stuff for you?
DIRK: Yeah we have different people stepping in for different aspects so but we certainly have always have facilitators that step in for different conversations. So we’ve got you know I mean most of our meetings have a facilitator there which I think is one of the big shifts working in a hybrid environment that they need to or the opportunity to intentionally facilitate conversations in a in a healthier way becomes even more important right so we do that a lot so we’ve got you know we’ve got Rob Reed and Brent and you know sometimes I step into that role as well. But it’s always basically a curated conversation. There’s still a lot of Serendipity that can happen but there is there’s these choreographies and structures that we use to you know to leverage those new connections and to help build relationships.
RHEA: Yeah I think that’s super crucial and more and more today. I have been in conversation with a few people and more and more there has been also an ask like can you train us how to become facilitators. Is there something in your onboarding that shapes this journey for people?
DIRK: Yeah that’s a I think that’s a that’s a great insight and great opportunity and I feel like in our experience we started with inviting already skilled facilitators to come in and host sessions. And we still invite people to do that. But then we also, you know, realize that hey that’s a key skill set in this world to facilitate conversations effectively. As we’re dealing with complex challenges, different perspectives, people for joining from all over the place. It’s a necessary skill I would say for any organization nowadays. So yes we provide training for facilitation for different types of facilitations and we also encourage people to attend incredible facilitation training that’s out there I know Rhea we’ve been chatting others the Exchange approach and those folks have have things dialed from a from a remote facilitation perspective and then there’s also also like art of Hosting liberating structures there’s so many you know beautiful ways of Hosting meaningful conversations that yeah we encourage and oh and really invite people the ones that want to train learn and help us evolve our our facilitation practices.
RHEA: Before I get carried away because I’m always very excited about these things and self-development and especially facilitation because that’s a core skill for us as well. I just want to pay attention to the chat because there’s a few people having curiosity about the ETG way. So maybe let’s look a little bit here George is asking the ETGs sets the standards and guidelines how did you develop the philosophy? What was the thinking behind it?
DIRK: Totally. Thank you for that question George. So I think this started with me being incredibly depressed with the state of our civilization. I remember I was in the Galapagos Islands and there you can really see the interconnectedness of nature but you can also see the impact that we’re having as a species on the larger ecosystem. And I was like I was determined to like okay there has to be a different way I don’t believe that humans are just a virus or a cancer in this world there’s a reason why why we’re here we have a place we probably are just showing up in a way that’s not healthy so that led to a whole a whole journey. And you know to cut it short I went to this program in Sweden and there I learned a very powerful framework the framework for strategic sustainable development and in that framework I learned that human systems are complex adaptive systems and again order for those systems to be to be healthy well we need we need trust we need diversity we need capacity for learning we need capacity for sales organization and meaning making. Okay so that’s a good inspiration to guide stuff but then I also learned what are the structural obstacles that get in the way of of human systems to be able to have these attributes and so at ET group like we are very also methodical I would say and we take a look at okay what systemic barriers do we have around people’s health? Like you know, are we, you know, working too hard? Are we paying people? And also you can take care of their needs. Are we protecting their private space so they can recharge and work? Or are we do we have any structural obstacles around influence and by the way these are all the sustainability principles that come from this framework so happy to share more around that but that’s that becomes the filter.
so we try to remove structural obstacles to health to influence to impartiality to meaning making into learning as well and that becomes the I would say the filter and that helps us evolve our practices just to give you a very tangible example one of our practices is a is a self-said salary advice process so everyone at ET group self-set their own compensation. And you know that sounds great and then we realize that hey some people we’re more comfortable using that process because we in the process we’re inviting people to like do a presentation and to share the rest from now and then they would get advice from their peers. Well guess what, people that are extroverted can shine in a process like that more than potentially folks that are more introverted. So then we said hmm okay that’s that’s not aligned with this whole thing around impartiality so what if people can just choose how they submit their their thoughts maybe we can do folks in the representation or someone can just write it or they can do an asynchronous video or they can you know do it in whatever way make sense for them so that we so we’re more inclusive in a process so we change that and it’s been amazing to see how different people shine in different modalities and there’s a lot more people just going through that process with that with confidence right?
RHEA: I’m very curious. We are also part of LIVESciences allure is the self-set salary and salary transparency and we have been evolving this since I’ve joined so every year we see something different that we want to improve. So it’s an evolutionary state and I have not seen it scale to a certain degree as yours. So how does that salary process look like for you? Is it like a month-long endeavor?
DIRK: It varies so it varies and it depends on how prepared the individual going through the process is. Like there are some folks that you know I recall one of our one of her colleagues Eric. He’s fantastic and he didn’t do a live presentation. He put together this beautiful presentation to seek advice from the salary advice giver so we have a role that’s called the salary advice giver. And in order to also to provide advice we need we need something to like react to so in this case Eric put together this beautiful presentation you know including comparables from the industry his own reflection on his work the things he did well the contributions he made so it was like super easy to be able to provide advice very very quickly so in that instance you know the process can take you know a few days and that’s done.
And then in other instances there’s more you know more Assistance or more questions that come up for the salary advice givers because folks aren’t providing just as much robust information right so it can take you know a couple of weeks time it just really depends. And the key now is to make it scalable so ramping up folks to energize people to energize that salary advice give a role is super super important but also helping people do the process well so where we’re and this is part of onboarding too right? Like you know doing role plays on how to go through that process that will become part of our onboarding plan going forward.
RHEA: Okay that is pretty cool and maybe a question that I should have asked earlier. How are you organized? Do you follow holocracy or sociocracy or a mix of both or an ETG style?
DIRK: Yeah so I would say we’re influenced by many things but in terms of how we organize I would say holocracy is has been a big inspiration. So we organize in circles that have a distinct purpose and each circle has roles related to that circle and then people are able to energize multiple roles and then like in holocracy anyone can sense and propose a change to how we’re organized. So it’s very much you know designed to evolve over time. So yeah, that’s how we do it that’s how we do it right now and there’s other ways of organizers that are showing up there so for example you know project teams and using scrum at the project level. That’s happening too so now we’re figuring out how do we visualize that within that structure and yeah it’s a it’s cool but that’s where you know tools like Sobol. Sobel.io for those that don’t know it provides an incredible amount of flexibility in order to visualize some of these some of these things.
RHEA: Yeah and so coming back to the salary and your organization is it that each circle will have a salary advice giver or it’s it’s not that way?
DIRK: Yeah that was actually so we started with first having three individuals that were energizing a salary advice role in this where the people that you know we actually send out a survey asking hey who are the top three people that you trust to energize this role? And that’s how we start. And then over time we’ve evolved the process so for example in each circle we have a lead link role and the lead link is accountable also for resourcing for that particular team so we’re like I think it makes sense for lead link to also be part of the salary advice givers. Then we noticed well sometimes you know a seller advice giver doesn’t have any context to the work that particular person does so one of the latest Innovations has been yeah inviting at least one person from every circle to be part of the seller advice so let’s say you’re in the design and the design circle we would have someone there from the design circle that is also providing salary advice which also yeah goes to like to having unfiltered transparency because now really everyone starts knowing what everyone else makes which was a big which was a big deal at the beginning and now I think people are more comfortable with with it just being shared knowledge.
RHEA: Yeah. And then I’m curious like so you have circles you have a lead lead link and is there like it’s purpose based right? Every circle. Do you let’s say, do you have a kind of a P and L or accountability within each circle or not really?
DIRK: I would say not yet. That’s been that’s been a challenge but also it has been a problem let’s put it that way because when we you know at the end of the day it’s like oh we’re actually you know making good margins and we’re making you know we’re we do set our budget and we have a rolling budget as well as a whole and I would say even though we don’t have those things because we have a very engaged team I think a lot of those things kind of sort itself out. But I do dream of the time where we can have more visibility to financial performance of different teams. But in some cases some of those themes maybe don’t need to be performing financially so well because they’re adding other type of value so it’s a I would say a double-edged sword if you if you do have that maybe you’re starting to focus on the wrong things for that particular team so maybe I hey like some sort of impact made tricks for every team in certain cases it could be financial in other cases you may want to emphasize something else that would be pretty cool but I don’t know what that looks like just yet.
RHEA: And do you- I have so many questions I’m like I’m just going off on this do you have any OKRs per circle or is it print per team?
DIRK: Yeah yeah so certain circles definitely have OKRs. Well yeah there’s a combination. So some circles have OKRs, the ones that know what that is and have learned that it could be helpful for them, others just have metrics more from the holocracy perspective and others don’t have anything and I think that’s okay. And that’s I think also the level of maturity of different teams is different so yeah I would say we’re definitely you know it’s it’s nice to have those OKRs but not not every single team has them.
RHEA: Yeah and I think that’s also the evolutionary state of whether you need it or you want it.
DIRK: Right, yeah it it and one thing that we did notice is we felt like we had a lack of shared priorities. We had you know a bunch of different deep teams doing stuff but maybe not all focused on the same few super critical priorities. So that has been something that we’ve really been focused on is to okay communicate what are our top priorities for the next six months? And definitely communicating how our work is so I guess those are like I guess OKRs at the bigger level and then you know invite different teams to share what have they done to contribute towards those priorities or where are they getting stuck in advancing those priorities.
RHEA: Yeah, I think it’s a critical factor for any self-managing organization to have at least this prioritization right? Because self-management like you said earlier does not equal freedom I cannot just work on something that does not add or generate value for the organic. How do you take these decisions in terms of priorities?
DIRK: So there I mean we’ve got a person that’s not me by the way energizing the lead link role of the general company circle this person is Chris. And basically part of his accountabilities is to set priorities for the overall organization and he used our decision making processes to set those right so he had a bunch of different conversations crowdsourced a bunch of these pieces and then put together a proposal that he took to the general company circle. We did a GDM process and off we go. Here are the priorities that we’re working on right now. And again we still have we still have so those are the company players and of course every circle you know also has their their their priorities that are set by that individual circle right? So it’s not you know one cascading thing overall it’s yeah the priorities of different levels.
RHEA: And yeah for an organization of your size not too big but also not too small anymore.
How do you maintain that level of transparency around you know priorities here General circle priorities in the specific purpose based circles?
DIRK: Yeah no I think that becomes so much more important and we need to be so much more intentional as we scale on proactively communicating and in effective ways. So right now we’re you know trying a mix of things so everything from hey our our registers or tactical means of different circles we try and communicate them to other circles proactively the reality is sometimes we forget. Even though we have the full intention of unfiltered transparency sometimes we forget. So I think that our discipline around proactively communicating to others is going to become more and more important and again I would say this is an area that we can improve because yeah we’re just so busy sometimes that we forget how important that communication is. So that’s one. So yeah or we use asynchronous video a bunch any ID group as well so you know different for example around our priorities each one of the owners you know is encouraged to share a video just and hey what what changed him last time what challenges are you facing and kind of like like you know mini scrum meeting at a at a broader scale that’s that’s how we do it and then from a financial perspective we share financials at each team connect to provide transparency there. And yeah I would say that there’s a lot of information available some people can also act like all of our our folder structures and that so if someone wants to find information it’s there but the key I think is to curate from each team what’s relevant for others what is what is impactful for others to know about.
RHEA: Yeah. Coming back to the employee onboarding right? If I am new to this type of holographic system self-management and all of these concepts- I think and maybe I’m projecting but it’s also about not just learning what the tools the meetings what frequency they happen and what roles are but also learning what how to deal with the emotions of this onboarding process. How are you supporting that?
DIRK: Hmm yeah I mean I think we’re supporting that through those relationships I think by by folks having a mentor and a buddy that’s accompanying them through that onboarding Journey I think there is an outlet there to it to express those those feelings and emotions. We also invite you know retrospectives on our onboarding process to figure out what’s working what’s not like we’ve learned that hey we sometimes fire hose people too much with you know onboarding on how to use a specific tool that they haven’t used and then layering on our whole ways of working around it may be like a lot.
So yeah I think those are the ways that we try and capture and learn from those from those experiences and yeah I mean and key things that we definitely emphasize that our that I think quite hard for people to want to grasp and then to embody this whole thing around hey the separation between the soul the individual and the role that they’re energizing. That’s a major breakthrough there and really grasping the implications of that and how that works in essence that’s huge or or the fact that hey I didn’t agree we’re accountable to each other and to our teams not to not to a manager and what that what that how that relates to how we provide feedback to one another that it’s you know I’m not going to go to the to the to the manager I’m going to try and address that challenge directly with the person. Those are challenges so a lot of the focus of our onboarding is around feedback decision making but not just the practices and also understanding why we’ve developed these practices.
RHEA: Yeah I think super crucial the why behind the practices right? And we know we both know why that is important in a context of self-management. There’s a question here and it’s more related to talent acquisition. Because before onboarding someone there has to be some sort of attraction to a talent. How do you think Kate is asking how I can be very upfront for our future hires and what should I focus on the most? Any tips?
DIRK: Yeah I mean I mean any tips my tip is chat with Anna who energizes that role with us at ET group I actually I used to be Energizer Talent attractor role at ET group and then obviously that wasn’t scalable and I wasn’t as good as Anna for example. But how are we up front around it? Well I think I think the first conversation just starts very very differently where it’s not a traditional interview it’s a it’s an exploration of two humans so the way we have those conversations is to sincerely get to know the person before we start assessing the fit for that particular role so it starts with you know I guess just role modeling that’s a big thin. And then emphasizing you know the also inviting people to reflect on their current work experience hey so like you know in your current experience what’s what’s going really well what are some of the challenges that you’re facing and truly leaning in and you know likely we’ll find oh by the way like yeah if you decided to come work with us here’s how it would look like in our setting. And then people of course get curious about things and you know those that are curious some can be cynical as well and you know some some don’t believe it and they decide not to join and but the ones that do hey they’re they’re very happy we’ve got like 95% retention rate.
RHEA: So yeah I would say I love the exploration of humans. I think these are the kind of organizations that get me the most. I think the traditional process of hiring where you have to apply and all of that I think it’s still important to a certain degree legally however I think this exploration that you mentioned is really really crucial even for me personally so I’m grateful. But how do you you mentioned earlier that you hire for fit within your organization and fit also means capability right for the specific role that you’re hiring how do you assess that?
DIRK: How do we assess it? Well I think it’s through conversations through authentic conversations that start with Anna but then you know she quickly introduces folks to other folks in the team that this person may be energizing a role from and having further conversations. So we try and have a bunch of those I would say. And then we also don’t expect to get it right a hundred percent of the time right? That’s why we have you know our our you know our onboarding process but we have a three-month check-in as well to actually hear from the new joiner you know what have they liked learned and longed for in their time identity groups so far? And or even like developing a program was like okay how do we make it easy for people that may not feel like they’re maybe we both thought that it was going to be a great fit and it isn’t how do we allow for them to potentially leave? So kind of like what Zappos used to do with offering people a nice chunk of money to potentially leave even after three months of onboarding. So we’re exploring things like that because we know we’re not gonna get it right all the time and that’s that’s fine so yeah that’s what we do right now.
RHEA: Yeah I was just going to ask you about transitions right because I think fit is a two-way street. It’s also in a self-managing organization you don’t want to have this concept of quiet quitting because no one will actually detect it. Because everyone’s busy you know driving stuff so I think it’s crucial to have the space Also for transitions so thanks. Before I actually start asking you more questions I want to give space to Alejandro who’s asking us what has changed for you since winning the Tony Hsieh Award? And congratulations for it.
DIRK: Oh, thank you, thank you! Ah what’s changed for us? Well candidly it’s been this beautiful validation of the hard work we’ve been putting into exploring and prototyping a new way of working so that’s been in a way it’s given us even more courage and boldness around our around that and of course the relationships that have come from from that has been has been incredible. I mean even I guess being here Rhea, the Tony Hsieh Awards definitely helped put us in the math to be able to share a story and hopefully Inspire others and then of course attending events like the Ted conference or the near future Summit or Masters of Scale.
It’s incredible to tap into a network that we likely would would have not been able to tap into and also to see the opportunities that exist in this much larger organization like we have a lot to bring to these you know larger organizations in terms of ways of working so that’s exciting and also you know I love when I meet an entrepreneur that has had experience in a traditional setting and is trying to create the new thing and they’re like ah this new way of working sounds exciting I’m like yes and let me let me show you how we did it and we’re here to support it’s like this beautifully generative Community I would say. And the Tony Hsieh Award I think really puts us in the map also in the in the predominant business Paradigm which is neat it’s a nice it’s a nice bridge between the new and the whole.
RHEA: Yeah and definitely grateful for that recognition towards you because definitely that’s that’s how synergies are formed for us as well so and I’m very happy to have you with us this afternoon in Europe Dirk so thank you so much for sharing how you have set up ET group to be maybe a role model in terms of onboarding employees and inspiring maybe some of our viewers to try something that is safe for them. Yeah you know it doesn’t have to be everything that you shared. I can’t imagine it took a long time to get here but experimenting in small steps is what we encourage our viewers, also what you’re willing to try and what you’re ready for.
DIRK: Yeah and just maybe just an invitation to also reach out like for example Rhea and I are collaborating on our on our onboarding processes and that’s the beauty about this community is like we’re so willing to share and learn from from each other so yeah I mean feel free to connect over LinkedIn this is really you know, a huge part of who I am so happy to share what we what we can and connect with other resources that may be able to help out and really we gotta do this. We gotta really shift the way we’re showing up as a species so I think it’s you know it’s a matter of when we all need to shift.
RHEA: Yeah I think it’s also a collective effort and really grateful for folks like you Dirk who are very open and willing to share what you’ve learned because I think there’s also a good amount of failed experiments that made you this successful right? So definitely that’s something to think about. Yeah so I just noticed the time flew by so fast we have six minutes left and I just want to give you a spacer for any final thoughts that you’d like to share.
DIRK: No just super super grateful for you, Rhea for inviting me to this conversation and for everyone that was able to join live. Amazing and again just inviting people to reach out and I’d say you know also also yes that invitation that hey this this new way of working actually it’s not so new you can find patterns like this in organizations that are that have a long trajectory of success. But I would say that this is more needed than than ever so it’s not about you know some people talk to me like well what’s the opportunity cost of shifting to a salesman structure and for me the opportunity cost is not shifting the way we work like the way we work in most organizations is not sustainable and it does not lead us to good results.This way even though it’s very challenging it’s also incredibly exciting it’s life-giving and it can create you know hope and a better future so yeah just inviting people to join that Journey.
RHEA: Great thank you so much Dirk. And with that I would also like to take this moment to invite you to some of our future interactions so we have upcoming a conversation with one of the thought leaders in the space of teal a friend of LIVESciences as well Lara Bezerra will be joining us in the Living Room on October the 12th so please mark your calendars can the code on your screen and join us then I will be hosting this conversation as well and if you are encouraged enough with Dirk’s invitation today would love for you to join us in the Global Teal Meetup. It will be happening on the 13th of October, scan the code on your screen and this is a two hour Community conversation around topics that are very close to self-management Teal and all sorts itself Progressive ways of working so please join us then and if you have any topic that comes up that’s you’re really energized for any topic please do reach out and we’ll make space for you in that Community conversation. So we’re all in this together. Thank you so much for joining us this afternoon here in Europe and of course morning in the US and Canada and evening in Asia. Thank you for staying inspired, staying curious and engaging us in this conversation. Dirk, thank you again for joining me today. It has been very inspiring and I look forward to our future Chats on everything related to how we can Inspire each other with our ways of working.
DIRK: Thank you Rhea.
RHEA: Thank you. Thanks everybody!
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