In this rapidly growing dynamic environment, organisations are fighting a constant battle to remain competitive; in such, the usage of teams has grown to be a criterion for organisational success. Organisations create teams for various reasons. Teams give a sense of responsibility and empowerment to members who are performing the tasks assigned. This, in return, increase efficiency and productivity, at the same time allow organisation to minimize its bureaucracy and foster flexibility. Other types of teams, such as problem-solving team, virtual team, management team and self directed team (SDT), are formed within a company. SDTs have increasingly emerged as a popular strategy in the execution of tasks. As discussed by Appelbaum, Abdallah and Shapiro (1999, p.60), ‘lately self directed teams are being used as ways of achieving employee participation as well as getting closer to the customer.’ This can be seen in various companies including ‘Motorola, Xerox, Proctor & Gamble, AT&T, Federal Express, Levi Strauss, and General Electric (Tata, 2000, p.187).’
Self Directed Team
Self directed team is defined as ‘a cross-functional work group that is organised around work processes, completes an entire piece of work requiring several interdependence tasks and has substantial autonomy over the execution of those tasks (McShane, Olekalns and Travaglione, 2010, p.320).’ SDT focuses on concept of having a group of people with various functional working capabilities operating as a team, from designing to producing a product, with minimum supervision. Members are given the empowerment to manage, make decisions and take ownership on tasks which used to be that of a managerial role.
This view is further supported by Attaran and Nguyen (1999, p.553), who addresses the concept of SDT as ‘a self-governing team, a continuation of quality circles and other quality improvement programs that promote employees' empowerment and encourage workers' participation.’
‘Empowerment is the process of enabling workers to set their own work goals, make decisions and solve problems within their sphere of responsibility and authority (Griffin, 2000, p.284).’ This illustrates a high level of autonomy in SDT which according to McShane et al (2010, p.218), ‘autonomy is the degree to which a job gives employees the freedom, independence and discretion to schedule their work, and to determine the procedure(s) used in completing it.’ These two distinct characteristics of self-governing team often result in an increase in productivity, constructive and creative ideas, and team morale and achieve competitive advantage.
Implications for Implementing a Self Directed Team
Careful implications and planning are crucial for management when it comes to implementing SDT, which will contribute to the criteria of success. Employees must be able to identify common goals and visions, and to have clear indications of individual roles and expectations within the team to avoid role ambiguity which, Griffin (2000, p.365) states ‘it arises when the sent role is unclear and individual does not know what is expected.’ As mentioned by Garrison and Turner (2006, p.163), ‘employee must understand his or her role in the bigger picture.’ In order to achieve that, members should go through training to develop new technical, as well as, supervisory skills to cultivate interdependence amongst them.
Simultaneously, members should always work towards the behaviour of the ‘Five Cs’ competencies (refer to Figure 1 in Appendix A) which are cooperating, coordinating, communicating, comforting and conflict resolving. These competencies are vital in a team in order for members to communicated freely and work together effectively. In addition, team members possessing these competencies are able to mediate any arising conflicts and work harmoniously.
Advantages and Disadvantages of SDT
In recent years, more and more organisations have been seen...