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Section 8  Five-Key Components to Self-Managed Teams

       Self-managed work teams represent the highest level of staff member empowerment and usually consist of a group of staff members who have responsibility for managing themselves and the work they do with minimal or no direct supervision. Team members handle job assignments, plan and schedule work, make decisions and act on problems.

Self-managed teams that are very self directed often may recruit, hire, evaluate, and terminate staff members, as necessary, They can even be capable of developing, monitoring and altering their own budgets and design cost effective proposals after appropriate study and evaluation. They can further be found to involve themselves in strategic planning measures and productivity improvement efforts.

            The five key components to self-managed teams are: 

A complete buy-in and support by upper and senior management. This is necessary as a prerequisite for getting through some of the tough start up issues that will arise. Ongoing support is also necessary for the staff members committed to the team concept.

Clear goals are central to the self-managed teamís ability to know what to focus on. Goals will drive their performance criteria and unite team members when there are differences of opinion about what to do.

Access to resources and support ensures that the team members have the tools needed to get the job done.

Appropriate rewards aligned with accomplishments provide the feedback route needed for the group to continue to succeed and improve in their efforts.

Skill development will equip the team with needed tools and capabilities in both technical matters and team communication, at the same time that motivation and morale are built up.

Many managers may be threatened and afraid of the idea of self-management. If this becomes an issue in your organization, then another option is to go with a participative, but more traditional approach.

However, for managers wishing to try out something that has the potential for dramatic leaps in productivity and morale, self-management is a concept that is likely to lead to entirely new assumptions about what people are capable of doing and achieving. 

Maintaining the Team

            One way to keep team members happy is to make sure that teams have adequate opportunities to build relationships and adequate time and support to work on team tasks. In other words, there must be a balance of time spent on team tasks and team maintenance. Below are listed some suggestions to satisfy the needs in order to maintain the team.

Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of team meetings. Plan five minutes at the end if each meeting to find out how things went as well as what team members want more of and less at meetings.

Celebrate team results. Take time to recognize success. Celebrate achievements and milestones that have been reached.

Praise individual efforts. Take time to recognize individual contributions.

Keep the team updated and informed. Assign a team member to keep all members updated and informed about progress and changes in schedules.

Include team development. Make sure teams have ongoing training and the periodic team-building interventions they need to develop and work their full potential.

Success Ingredients for Self-Managed Teams

            Certain ingredients will help facilitate the success of self-managed teams. Initially, they must begin with a fundamental philosophy or belief in human beings is necessary. This philosophy entails being optimistic about the capacity of staff members to respond to forming self-managed teams as a challenge and opportunity!

            Teams will also require a change in the management information system of the organization. The increase in staff member responsibility and empowerment require a great deal of information for teams to make effective decisions and to perform successfully. In fact, teams will demand information systems and design their own if they need to.

            Continuous training is required. The training requirements for teams cannot be overestimated. Moreover, the training must include technical and task training as well as interpersonal and social training.

             Outside facilitation may be extremely helpful. Often, this outside resource can provide an object viewpoint that will help to overcome the bump and challenges that invariably arise.