Self-directed teams bring in flexibility to their work processes. They do not have to wait for the manager’s instructions on an issue. They are quick decision-makers. Unlike in conventional corporate hierarchy where decision-making is reserved for managers and supervisors, here team members can discuss, plan and implement solutions to resolve problems. Thus, self-directed teams can reduce operational costs while providing the end user with quick solutions and fast service.
However, building such teams is not a simple task. It demands strenuous effort from the organization’s top leadership since it involves a majoroverhaul of the existing organizational culture and team dynamics. Here are a few effective team building strategies that could help you in this endeavor:
Align the Teams with Organizational Vision and Mission: Self-directed teams can function effectively when they know the purpose of their existence vis-à-vis the organizational mission. Set the roles and responsibilities of the individual members as well as the team’s in line with the organization’s vision and mission.
Build Trust among the Team Members: There must be a sense of ‘we’ among the team members. Otherwise, it cannot function as a unit. So, trust is necessary among members. Unless they trust each other, they cannot share work responsibilities and knowledge. Therefore, build and sustain trust among the team members by conducting team building activities including group events, role plays and games.
Make Empowerment a Continuous Process: Empowerment does not mean giving unbridled powers over resources. Such a step may create anarchy. So, make it a continuous, gradual process, where you test the team’s ability to use resources by giving them a few and letting them become skillful with them. Then, you give them more.
Provide Comprehensive Training: The major hurdle organizations face while transforming their teams into self-directed ones is to manage change. Unlike conventional teams, self-directed teams need to master several skills to be effective. They need to not only master their work but also learn a bit of other’s work and managerial skills. This certainly calls for greater efforts on the part of employees. They need more training.
So, plan a comprehensive training session for your teams, keeping in view these aspects. Build their capacity by transferring as much knowledge and skills as possible.
Involve Management: For self-directed teams to function without inhibitions or apprehensions, they need the support of your line and middle management. So, ensure that they have the support of the managers.
Self-directed teams also have the potential to improve your processes and give you an edge in the competitive market. No individual feels overlooked or less valued. Everyone knows what they are doing, what is expected of them, and whether they are delivering their expectations. Thus, individual satisfaction is high in self-directed teams. So, build and nurture them.
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