Teams are taken very seriously at Whole Foods. Not only are company employees referred to as “team members,” but teams are given a great deal of freedom to make important decisions. For example, teams help decide what items to order and sell, and how to price and promote them. Although it might not seem all that unusual for a company to give teams the liberty to make decisions so they can carry out their core functional responsibilities, Whole Foods goes much further in providing autonomy to its teams. Perhaps there is no better example of this than how new team members are hired at the company.
In most organizations, individuals seeking employment fill out an application form or submit a résumé. Those with qualifications that are judged to match a job description are interviewed by human resource personnel or a manager to make sure the applicant fits with the job and organization. At Whole Foods, the process is quite different and much more involved. Applicants not only fill out an application and have one-on-one interviews with managers, but they also have interviews with panels composed of recruiters, managers, and select team members. But that’s not all. An applicant who makes it through this process is placed on a team for a 30-day trial period, after which the team votes for whether or not to accept the applicant on their team. Applicants who don’t get a two-thirds vote are out of that team. They may be placed on a new team, where the trial process begins anew, or they leave the company.
This hiring process typically takes about 60 days and is applied at all levels of the organization, from employees who stock shelves in the stores to accountants who work in the corporate office. Whole Foods believes that hiring decisions should be made by the team members, in part, because they’re the ones who are most directly affected by the choices that are made. A new hire who ends up hurting a team’s performance will reduce bonuses paid to team members, whereas page 361 the opposite would be true of a hire that ends up promoting a team’s performance. Whole Foods also believes that the team members themselves are the best judges of who might fit within their team. Finally, involving team members in the hiring process promotes a sense of ownership for the decision, and following from this, team members may be more inclined to help a new hire who is struggling to catch on.
11.1 What label would best describe the type of team that Whole Foods uses in its stores? Explain.
11.2 Describe the advantages and disadvantages of Whole Foods’ hiring process with respect to managing team composition.
11.3 What steps could Whole Foods take to mitigate potential disadvantages of their hiring process?
Submit your assignment in MS Word or Adobe PDF file. Include at least 4 references in APA style.