Hiring for Teams: The Whole Foods Approach

Dateline February 8, 2013

Welcome to our Friday WRAP – one thought-provoking idea to think about over the weekend.

Recently Fortune Magazine published an excerpt of the new book by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey and colleague Raj Sisodia, Conscious Capitalism, describing key components of the Whole Foods management philosophy.  A key part of this philosophy is the hiring and management of employees.

At Whole Foods Market, everyone is hired into a particular team on a probationary basis for 30 to 90 days, at the end of which a 2/3 positive vote by the entire team is required before the new hire is granted full team member status. The logic is simple: anyone is capable of fooling a team leader for a while, but it is much more difficult to deceive the entire team….

The team is an important component of the management philosophy.

It is no coincidence that many conscious businesses organize their people into teams. Working in teams creates familiarity and trust and comes naturally to people. Humans evolved over hundreds of thousands of years in small bands and tribes. It’s deeply fulfilling for people to be part of a team, where their contributions are valued and the team encourages them to be creative and make contributions. A well-designed team structure taps into otherwise dormant sources of synergy, so that the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. The team culture of sharing and collaboration is not only fundamentally fulfilling to basic human nature, it is also critical for creating excellence within the workplace. It’s also a lot more fun.

They continue by pointing out that it’s natural for people to both collaborate and compete, and at Whole Foods, they use that concept as a way to promote effective self-managing teams.  They conclude,

Our experience at Whole Foods Market shows that trust, cohesion, and performance are optimized in this type of small-team organizational structure. Each person is a vital and important member of the team. The success of the team depends on the invaluable contributions of everyone on the team; no one is invisible, and no one can be a free rider because the team effectively self-polices.

How do you use teams in your workplace?  How effectively does your enterprise use teams?

That’s a WRAP!  Have a wonderful weekend.

Speak Your Mind