Self-Directed and Self-Managed Teams
by Mark M. Chatfield, P.E.
Vice President for Engineering Leadership
Interaction Research Institute, Inc.
4428 Rockcrest Drive
Fairfax, VA 22032
Much of the confusion about teams in the workplace has to do with loose definitions of terms. Lets start off on the right foot by specifying what a few key words and phrases mean.
Work Group - A group of people working together - (Example - the mechanics in a Sears Auto Center)
Team - A group of people working together toward a common goal - (Example - The Denver Broncos)
Self-Managed Team - A group of people working together in their own ways toward a common goal which is defined outside the team - (Example - James River Corporations Kendallville Plant ALPHA team. They manufacture cardboard boxes as defined by executive leadership. Team does their own work scheduling, training, rewards and recognition, etc.)
Self-Directed Team - A group of people working together in their own ways toward a common goal which the team defines - (as above, but team also handles compensation, discipline, and acts as a profit center by defining its own future)
Before anyone would try to implement something as aggressive as a self-managed (and subsequently self-directed) team, they should know and be able to articulate the expected benefits. A mature self-managed team, when compared to typical hierarchical management, would have measured results showing:
|Enthusiasm||Individual opinion about whats important|
|Learning from peers||Reliance on individual abilities|
|Comfort knowing help is there||Panic when workload peaks|
|Shared responsibility||Protecting information|
|Focus on the organization||Whats in it for me?|
|Responsibility for the team||Stress on the "supervisor"|
|Simple, visible measurement||Feeling unaccomplished|
Some of the lessons I have learned in implementing teams are summarized below:
To find more about how your organization might get better through increased team responsibility, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.