Creating self-directed teams

15/09/2022 0 By indiafreenotes

Self-directed work teams are groups of employees who combine their talents to work without the influence of traditional manager-based supervision. They work towards company goals just as teams run by a manager do. Typically, self-directed work teams have anywhere from five to 25 members. Because there is not a managerial leader in place, members of a self-directed work team make decisions for the project together, such as setting deadlines and rules regarding the project.

For a self-directed team to excel, the business or corporation needs to provide the team with a stated mission and encourage them to do whatever needs to be done, including making and forming big decisions. It’s also important for leaders to support the team, and establish and provide the boundaries, regulations and principles of the company. Additionally, you’ll need to train the team members with the skills and expertise they need to achieve their goals. It is also important to note that each team should be held responsible for their project failures or successes.

Many teams create a set of rules before the project begins. As challenges arise, team members work together to find solutions and make progress. A self-directed work team works best when management equips them with the right tools and sufficient support. Ultimately, the self-directed team is responsible for their own success.

Advantages of a self-directed work team

Employees may feel a greater sense of satisfaction

Because a limited amount of employees are responsible for the project, they each may feel a greater sense of satisfaction when they complete parts of the project. This is especially true for a smaller self-directed team, as each employee may feel a more potent sense of satisfaction if there are only a few members taking responsibility for a project’s progress.

Employees have more accountability

Employees in a self-directed work team have more accountability for a project’s success than in a traditionally manager-led team, especially if the team is small. This can work as an advantage, as employees may work harder in response to having more personal accountability for the project’s success.

Employees have more freedom to be intuitive

Because a lead manager does not manage the team, employees within have the freedom to take initiative during the project. This decreases limitations in each employee’s ability to build on ideas and propose solutions.

Employees can more effectively use their skills

As members of a self-directed team, employees are free to use their expert skills to move a project forward, sometimes more effectively than in a managed team. For example, assume you’ve built a small team that focuses on programming and quality checking code for a project. One member of this small team has an expert ability in quality checking code, meaning they are able to quality check code much faster than any other employee in your department.

If this project were to be handled by the entire department, the quality-check team may not process the code as quickly or as accurately. In the self-directed team situation, one employee can quality check code far more quickly because of the employee’s expertise. Self-directed teams allow for experts to work on parts of a project that they can handle quickly, without needing a manager’s approval beforehand.

Disadvantages of a self-directed work team

Decision making may take longer

Regardless of team size, some newly formed teams may take longer to decide on major project decisions. Establishing leadership positions before the project begins can help decision-making later go smoothly. Team sociability and communication are two key elements that can help in decision-making, so consider evaluating your team’s efficiency before giving them a major project to handle.

Role-awareness may decrease

While some team members may feel naturally inclined to lead, with no confirmed leader in the system, some employees may find their roles in the project a little unclear. Consider helping establish leadership positions in the team before the project to help prevent any confusion later.

These five features are integral to assemble an effective self-directed team:

Harmony: Since each member of the team is accountable for a particular area of the project, team members should be completely confident that their partners can accomplish their given tasks. Even if all the members of the team are self-directed in the way they work, their assigned tasks are linked to one another, which means they should work in harmony.

Collective Responsibility: Collective responsibility means each member of the team is accountable for their area of interest. They are fully immersed in retaining their role for the project and must be responsible for carrying it out. The success of the project lies on their shoulders alone.

Encouragement: Autonomy is the oil that lubricates the engine of self-directed teams. Each member of the team must have expertise in their area and the ability to pull the handle. They should be able to continue without attempting to pass through the process of approval, which will only be a hindrance in their step and their project. Being efficient and effective for self-directed teams is a part of the productive drive.

Communication: Even if the self-directed teams work independently, communication is the major step in executing a successful project. Having good communication skills will leave no room for error and will only facilitate the success rate of your team.

Shared Goals: The main principle behind an effective self-directed team is that they perform the assigned work independently but toward a shared goal. If this is not defined or properly communicated, then the several moving parts, in their attempt to unite and attain their shared goals, will fail. It is vital from the start that the members of the team are mindful of that shared goal.

Tips for implementing a self-managed team

Provide initial leadership

While self-managed teams typically direct themselves, it can help to provide them with some initial leadership. Consider giving the team a few goals and recommended best practices. As the team continues their work, they can adjust their processes according to their preferences, and you can begin to minimize your direct supervision.

Introduce team-building exercises

Self-managed teams often work best when team members trust and communicate well with one another. If you’re creating a new self-managed team, it may help to organize some team-building exercises at the start of the project. Team-building exercises can help people get to know one another, which may make teams feel more comfortable communicating in the future.

Improve communication channels

After your self-managed team begins their work, consider identifying the tools they need to communicate with each other. For example, if your team members work in the same office space, you might designate an area within the office for them to meet. For teams that operate online, you might implement new software designed for team communication.

Review team performance regularly

It’s a good idea to review the performance of your teams over time to help ensure their meeting project goals. To help your team improve their performance, you might implement methods to improve the functionality of the team, such as suggesting a different way for them to operate or communicate. Depending on the scope of the project, you might review the team’s results every few weeks or months. If your team achieves excellent results consistently, you might offer positive feedback or incentives to reinforce their strong performance.