Self Managed Team

Topics: Team, Management, The A-Team Pages: 19 (5354 words) Published: January 23, 2013
LORI L. SILVERMAN Partners for Progress 19202 N. 31st Drive Phoenix, AZ 85027 USA +1 623 516 4932 office ANNABETH L. PROPST Fuller & Propst Associates 41W202 Whitney Road St. Charles, IL 60175, USA

INTRODUCTION Over the past few years, there has been much talk about the benefits of self-managed teams (also known as self-directed teams, natural teams, or semiautonomous work groups). Everyone seems to want some form of them in their organization. A number of books and articles have been written on the subject since they were first introduced in the 1940s as a method of employee involvement. They typically list the activities and steps the organization should follow to develop self-managed teams, outline the skills required of team leaders and team members, and describe the phases an organization goes through to achieve its objective of employing self-managed teams. These books and articles contain good ideas and useful information, yet many organizations do not have fully functioning self-managed teams. Why is this? We believe it is due, in part, to the lack of a model that describes the roles of self-managed teams within organizations. This paper introduces such a model that includes the following roles: ■ Uphold organizational and personal values and principles; ■ Accomplish the team’s work; ■ Organize the team’s work environment; ■ Manage the team’s work processes; ■ Participate in organization-wide systems; ■ Participate in organization-wide strategies; and ■ Manage team processes. The types of responsibilities that are a part of each role and how each role fits within the overall work of the organization are detailed here. In addition, we provide steps for introducing your organization and your work group to this model. WHAT IS A SELF-MANAGED TEAM? Even though the terms “self-managed” and “self-directed” are used frequently, they are rarely defined. As several authors have noted, there is no such thing as a typical self-managed team © COPYRIGHT 1996 PARTNERS FOR PROGRESS AND FULLER & PROPST ASSOCIATES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


(Holpp, 1993, Shonk, 1992). Yet, it has been our experience that having a common definition can serve as a framework for discussion and dialogue on this topic. In 1990, Development Dimensions International, the Association for Quality and Participation, and Industry Week conducted a study on the current practice surrounding selfdirected teams. The study defined a self-directed team as “a group of employees who have day-to-day responsibility for managing themselves and the work they do. Members of self-directed teams typically handle job assignments, plan and schedule work, make production-related decisions, and take action on problems. Members of self-directed teams work with a minimum of direct supervision. As such, the teams are not quality circles or cross-functional task groups. ... [T]hese teams are characterized by: ■ Face-to-face interaction in natural work groups; ■ Responsibility for producing a definable product; ■ Responsibility for a set of interdependent tasks; and ■ Control over managing and executing tasks.” (page 4) This definition outlines the “end state” to which work groups evolve when they finally become self-managed teams. However, organizations also need to understand the process surrounding how teams become self-managed over time. Zawacki and Norman (1994) suggest that successful self-managed teams evolve through five stages. These are: ■ Stage 1: The typical hierarchical structure where the leader provides one-on-one supervision; ■ Stage 2: The leader evolves into a group manager whose role is making the transition into team coordinator/coach; ■ Stage 3: The group manager becomes the team coordinator and provides a structure for self-managed team members to receive the necessary training to take on more leadership tasks; ■ Stage...

References: Bennis, W. and B. Nanus. (1985). Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge. (NY: HarperCollins). Development Dimensions International, Association for Quality and Participation, and Industry Week. (1990). Self-Directed Teams: A Study of Current Practice. Hirano, H. (1995). 5 Pillars of the Visual Workplace. (OR: Productivity Press, Inc.). Holpp, L. (1993). “Self-Directed Teams are Great, but They’re Not Easy.” Journal for Quality and Participation, December, pp. 64 - 70. Osada, T. (1991). The 5 S’s: Five Keys to a Total Quality Environment. (Tokyo: Asian Productivity Organization). Pasmore, W. (1988). Designing Effective Organizations: The Sociotechnical Systems Perspective. (NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc). Pearce II, J. A. (1982) “The Company Mission Statement as a Strategic Tool.” Sloan Management Review, Spring issue. Schein, E. H. (1992). Organizational Culture and Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers). Shonk, J. H. (1992). Team-Based Organizations: Developing a Successful Team Environment. (IL: Business One Irwin). Silverman, L. L. (1992) Using Teams to Achieve Customer Satisfaction and Optimize Business Performance. Workshop and participant manual.
Silverman, L. L. (1995). “Change ... at the Speed of Life: Challenging Our Current Paradigms.” Keynote address at the American Society for Training & Development Symposium, Milwaukee, WI, August. Silverman, L. L. and A. L. Propst. (1991). “Coaching Process Improvement Teams.” Paper presented at the 1991 American Society for Quality Control Fall Technical Conference. Silverman, L. L. and A. L. Propst. (1995). 8 Stage Approach for Developing a Current Reliable Method. Participant workbook. Silverman, L. L., A. L. Propst, and S. N. Silverman. (1996). 8 Stage Approach for Innovation. Participant workbook. Zawacki, R. A. and C. A. Norman. (1994). “Successful Self-Directed Teams and Planned Change: A Lot in Common.” OD Practitioner. (Spring, pp. 33-38). Special thanks to Jeff Gill, Manager of Organizational Development for Unocal Corporation, for sharing his experiences with self-managed teams and his insightful comments on this paper. ABOUT THE AUTHORS Lori L. Silverman As a strategist and the owner of Partners for Progress, for 25 years Lori Silverman has consulted across 20 industries on enterprise-wide change and creating viable long-term strategies to increase success. Organizations she has worked with include Chevron, Bechtel, Lucent, Valmet, Phillips NA, Tinker Federal Credit Union, American Family Insurance and the U.S. Air Force Reserves. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Lori led the development of the project management methodology used in the Project Management Master 's Certificate. She also spearheaded the creation of seven, two-day courses for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 's Project Management Certificate Program. As a keynote speaker, she has spoken at more than 75 events, including Project Summit in Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia and Project World in Toronto. Lori has published over one hundred articles and workbooks on strategic planning, teams, quality, value creation and organizational change and has appeared on over 60 radio and TV shows to talk about using story techniques at work. She is the co-author of Critical Shift and Stories Trainers Tell. Her latest bestseller, Wake Me Up When the Data Is Over: How Organizations Use Stories to Drive Results, debuted in the top one hundred books on Amazon. Annabeth L. Propst For almost twenty years, Annabeth was a management consultant, specializing in quality and productivity improvement, statistical thinking, and Theory of Constraints. Prior to that, she
worked in manufacturing in a variety of engineering and quality positions. She is the co-author of Critical SHIFT: The Future of Quality in Organizational Performance and the author of a number of articles that have appeared in publications such as Quality Progress, Quality Engineering, and Quality Digest. Annabeth has also been a frequent speaker at American Society for Quality conferences and meetings. In 2002, she made a career change, and now makes grows and sells plants and flowers at farmer’s markets.
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