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  • Writer's pictureBonny Van Rest

Balancing Structure with Agility: The Teal Approach in Public Services

As we progress through 2024, public service organizations are at a crossroads. The accelerated pace of change after the pandemic has structurally impacted consumer expectations of not only businesses but also government and social services. More structured environments that we often see in public service organizations, are being reassessed in light of these evolving societal and technological demands, as it often limits an organization’s ability to put the consumer at the heart. 

Group of colleagues around board room table

The post-pandemic transformation is about more than adapting to hybrid work; it's about fundamentally redefining interactions, collaborations, and the search for meaning in professional life. The ‘Teal Principles’ offer a controversial perspective on designing and organizing processes and people in order to create greater adaptability, meaningful momentum and empowerment to adopt a more external, client-focused mindset.  Here are some answers to the questions you might be asking yourself:

1 - Why Teal in Public Services?  

With a transformation to a more digitally enabled, data-driven and community focused approach ahead of you, especially in a sector with such a large social mandate, success will be highly dependent on the people driving this change.  

According to a BDC study, millennials and Gen Z will be accounting for over 50% of the workforce by 2030. With millennials and Gen Z at the forefront, it's imperative to foster a culture that resonates with these generations' ideals of authenticity, freedom, and meaningful engagement and an organizational structure that allows for exactly that.  

The teal principles focus on distribution of authority, promoting self-management and an evolutionary purpose, which perfectly aligns with the needs and expectations of these evolving workforce demographics. And as Teal organizations are moving away from traditional hierarchies, decision-making speed, flexibility, and employee engagement significantly increase – key elements to get right in today’s fast-paced world. 

2 - What Teal Principles are adaptable to public services? 

  • Create a peer-to-peer work environment: Teal organizations foster peer relationships over traditional hierarchies, promoting more effective and rapid decision-making. This approach can be integrated into public services to enhance responsiveness and innovation at all levels, despite existing structures. . 

  • Foster a culture of values and engagement: Teal principles encourage you and your team to bring your complete selves to your roles, nurturing a culture where each member feels genuinely valued and fully engaged. This aspect can significantly boost morale and job satisfaction. 

  • Be ready to respond to change quickly: Instead of a rigid adherence to predetermined goals, Teal organizations adapt organically to changing circumstances. This flexibility can be incorporated within the public sector’s existing frameworks, allowing for more responsive and resilient service delivery. 

3 - So, what are the advantages of Teal in public services? 

  • Teal practices promote higher employee engagement by fostering a culture of authenticity and self-expression, even within traditional frameworks. 

  • The decentralized, agile approach of Teal enables quicker decision-making and adaptability, crucial for responding to public needs efficiently. 

  • Empowering employees within the Teal framework drives innovation and operational efficiency, leading to enhanced and community focused service delivery. 

As a leader, you can navigate the complexities of 2024 and beyond. These Teal principles offer you a path to balancing existing structures with the much-needed flexibility and agility. This approach represents the future of public service – a landscape where self-management, authenticity, and purpose-driven adaptability are key to success. Public organizations can unlock the full potential of their workforce, propelling themselves towards a future of greater relevance, resilience, and success.  


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