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Isabelle De Vil

October 7, 2022

Self-managing teams in realiy: How does it work and how are we coping with it at Teal Partners?
An interview with Isabelle De Vil (2/2)

The name Teal Partners was not chosen randomly. A 'teal' organization is built on employee autonomy and self-management. The dictionary defines self-management as "the ability to lead yourself. What does it mean in practice? We asked some colleagues at Teal Partners.

Isabelle De Vil (32) is responsible for growth. She has been working at Teal Partners for six months. After her studies TEW, she obtained a postgraduate degree in Digital Marketing with high distinction. She previously worked as an online marketer and business developer at various companies.

"It attracted me that I could design my job myself. The white sheet gave me an appetite. I felt the itch to be an entrepreneur and that is perfectly possible at Teal Partners. The self-management principles offer a framework for being an entrepreneur without starting a company yourself. You are part of the team and you have the freedom of an entrepreneur, which is best of both worlds. The combination of sales and marketing also attracted me. In previous sales positions I missed the strategic element and in marketing positions I missed the human contact. Here again: best of both worlds (laughs).

The openness among colleagues, the trust you receive, the transparency of the business operations: I never saw that elsewhere. The Teal working method already sounded like music to my ears, and in practice it is even better than I thought. It's everything I missed in previous jobs. The team supports me and gives me room to fail. That gives me energy. In the beginning I was shooting blanks, but in the meantime I have a solid long-term plan.

We don't have departments, but divide the work into teams that you volunteer to be a part of. Some developers help me with marketing tasks. I learn from them, they learn from me. For example, one of the developers has a web shop as a secondary activity, so he is interested in the marketing part at Teal Partners. For example, in the area of webshops: In their turn, they show me the way technically. It is an enormous added value that people with a different background think about my profession. They look at things from a different perspective.

We don't have departments, but divide the work into teams that you volunteer to be a part of. Some developers help me with marketing tasks. I learn from them, they learn from me.

It is not the case that you have to be enterprising to work for Teal Partners. We also have experts in house whose specialization makes the difference. There are people who pull the strings and there are people who don't get involved with the organizational stuff. You choose that yourself. You do need to have an inner drive to do your job well. People who derive status from their job title will derive little satisfaction from self-management. You have to be able to handle the freedom. You are thrown in at the deep end, but not without supporters and coaches on the sidelines. For me, that works well.

As a starter, you are well guided and that is necessary. You have to learn to work independently. The principle of working where I wanted, for example, took some getting used to. I didn't dare do it very well. But now I work just as often at home as in the office. Since the pandemic, location-independent work is the new normal. But at Teal Partners, we always worked like this.

If we hired ten people at once, it would be difficult to support them properly. One or two people a month, like now: that's doable. According to Financial Times, we are among the thousand fastest growing European companies, but we don't grow at any cost. We protect our culture, because it is our essence, even more than in other companies.

Some friends and acquaintances are critical. They find our way of working utopian. Others are fascinated. For me, self-direction is the future. Hierarchical working has proven its limits within certain contexts. With this way of working, I see much more results."

For me, self-direction is the future. Hierarchical working has proven its limits within certain contexts. With this way of working, I see much more results.

What are you currently working on?

"We want to put Teal Partners on the map through content marketing and are in the middle of an SEO process. I will soon be helping to launch a new product in the market. In addition, I chose to be part of the team working on our move. We will soon be moving to another office building nearby. In my spare time I study interior design: that comes in handy. It's a good example of how Teal Partners uses people according to their strengths."