Self-managed teams are the way that many publicly respected organisations are achieving financial success and brand loyalty today.
Having a team that is able to manage it’s self in terms of productivity, quality, innovation, customer service and profitability adds enormous bottom line value to any business.
Which is why despite these types of teams taking a long time to establish and needing business owner and management support for them to succeed, they are the latest trend in human resources strategies.
Creating a self-managed team is not simply a matter of putting a bunch of highly talented and competent people together in a room and expecting them to “gel”. They need to be given responsibilities, goals, targets, parameters, milestones, deadlines, authority, accountabilities, rewards and consequences.
This may sound like a lot of hand-holding, and a lot of time for you to invest in a group of people you pay to get work done. However, the benefits to you personally as the business owner and to your business, at the end of the day, are substantial.
Accountability Reduces Costs
When you get your team to work in a self-managed and accountable way, your management costs reduce substantially.
You also get secondary gains because instead of in the past, where they may have left things to others to do because it wasn’t in their job description, team members are more likely to lift their game to get jobs completed.
This gives you employees with greater depth of knowledge within your business who are able to contribute innovation in systems and processes.
Remain Focused on Business Outcomes
Self-managed teams have a greater focus on the overall business outcomes rather than being governed by project level objectives.
They look for ways to achieve the company objectives through solutions to problems that they are tasked with solving, which gives you more productive outcomes from their efforts.
Instead of just working on getting projects done, they constantly have one eye on the big picture.
Resourcefulness and Initiatives Driven
When teams are given greater scope and chartered with finding solutions to bigger problems, they become far more innovative and resourceful.
They combine together to discover new way to do more with less and uncover areas within the business that need attention and new ways of getting things done. And, they are willing and able to start initiatives that benefit the business for growth and expansion.
Conflicts are Resolved Internally
Self-managed teams can be useful if a business has difficulties with employee satisfaction and retention of staff. With greater scope and responsibilities, individuals find greater happiness in their employment, and when emotional difficulties arise are more empowered to find a solution from within their team. The need for an external mediator can still be required when philosophical disputes arise, however this is to be expected when you move to a more leadership and self-managed team culture within your business.
Flexible, Demand-Driven Roles
When teams are self-managed, roles for individuals become far more flexible. People who may have taken on the role of a manager for one project, can become an important team member that isn’t the manager for another project. This dynamic shifting of roles and responsibilities allows people to get experience at different levels of accountability within your organization for personal development and growth.
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Just as roles are more flexible, individuals can also choose to become specialists in one specific area of your business.
In a self-managed team, your employees are given the freedom to make role and reasonability trade-offs that enable them to govern their own career path. By having the team members arrive and a set roles and responsibilities, they develop various degres of specialist skills.
Employees can take on work that may have been hierarchically structured in the past and seen as being beyond their skills and capability with much greater confidence.
Retain Knowledge in the Business
Over time your team gains better skills across more of your business so that the intellectual property of a single individual doesn’t cripple your business if they decide to move on.
Having more of your team know how to do all aspects of your business keeps more of the knowledge in your business when employees leave.
Identifies Skills Weaknesses
Self-managed teams are also quicker at identifying when there’s a skills and knowledge gap in your business. Through their problem solving and task delegation processes, self-managed teams are able to quickly identify when there just isn’t enough information or local knowledge to get something achieved. Making it much easier to identify skills and knowledge that needs to be recruited into the business when the time comes to grow your head count.
Picking up the Slack
When you find yourself suddenly understaffed due to illness, accident or vacations, a self-managed team can be dynamic and flexible enough that they come together to pick up the extra work.
At times when they can’t, they are able to identify the temporary additional help they require from a contractor to minimize the expense of covering the short fall in labour, this gives your business the best outcome at the lowest outlay.
Many of today’s organizations are moving to self-managed teams and achieving success on many different levels because of the remarkable benefits this approach demonstrates in places like Apple Computers, Zappos and Xerox.
If you’ve never thought about the idea of a self-managed team before and would now like to introduce the idea into your business but don’t know how… you may want to talk to one of our business coaches.