Self-managed teams (SMTs)

 Self-managed teams (SMTs) are relatively small groups of employees given substantial responsibility for planning organizing, scheduling and production of work products or service. SMTs however are more than just another way of directing groups. The concept, according to John Simmons, involves nothing less than, the complete restructuring of the jobs that people does. Thus, Self-managed work teams are groups of employees tasked with monitoring and reviewing a product or process in a firm and coming up with solutions to problems they encounter.

Self-organized semi-autonomous small group whose members determine, plan, and manage their day-to-day activities and duties (in addition to providing other supportive functions such as production scheduling, quality assurance, and performance appraisal) under reduced or no supervision. Also called self directed team, self-managed natural work team, or self managed team. Self managed teams are workers who have been organized into teams on the basis of relatively complete task functions.

They make decisions on a wide range of issues, often including such traditional management prerogatives as: * Who will work on which machines or work operations… * How to address inter-personal difficulties within the group… * How to resolve quality problems, and so forth. Also, these teams usually consist of five to fifteen employees, who: * Produce an entire product instead of sub-units… * Learn all tasks and rotate from job to job… * Take over vacation scheduling, order materials etc. Such groups are self-regulating and work without direct supervision.

Normally, a manager acts as the team leader and is responsible for defining the goals, methods, and functioning of the team. However, interdependencies and conflicts between different parts of an organization may not be best addressed by hierarchical models of control. Self-managed teams use clear boundaries to create the freedom and responsibility to accomplish tasks in an efficient manner. The main idea of the self-managed team is that the leader does not operate with positional authority. In a traditional management role, the manager is responsible for providing instruction, onducting communication, developing plans, giving orders, and disciplining and rewarding employees, and making decisions by virtue of his or her position. In this organizational model, the manager delegates specific responsibility and decision-making authority to the team itself, in the hope that the group will make better decisions than any individual. Neither a manager nor the team leaders make independent decisions in the delegated responsibility area. Decisions are typically made by consensus in successful self-managed teams, by voting in very large or formal teams, and by hectoring and bullying in unsuccessful teams.

The team as a whole is accountable for the outcome of its decisions and actions. Self-managed teams operate in many organizations to manage complex projects involving research, design, process improvement, and even systemic issue resolution, particularly for cross-department projects involving people of similar seniority levels. While the internal leadership style in a self-managed team is distinct from traditional leadership and operates to neutralize the issues often associated with traditional leadership models, a self-managed team still needs support from senior management to operate well.

Self-managed teams may be interdependent or independent. Of course, merely calling a group of people a self-managed team does not make them either a team or self-managed. As a self-managed team develops successfully, more and more areas of responsibility can be delegated, and the team members can come to rely on each other in a meaningful way Objective: The objectives of using SMTs are to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of specific tasks. This approach achieves these objectives by having SMT team members look beyond their individual task concerns, to the needs of specific groups and the entire organization.

Benefits and uses of SMTs: • Reduced absenteeism • Increased productivity • Increased employee satisfaction, morale & cohesiveness • Multi-skilled workforce benefit • Greater level of personal responsibility to the company’s targets • Unique flexibility in job functions • 100% of team members all pulling to a common goal • A significant reduction in day-to-day problems • Awards for achievement are shared equally The most beneficial aspects of self-managed teams are that they are management innovations that are based on an accurate understanding of human nature and motivation.

They eliminate bureaucratic/pyramidal values and replace them with humanistic/democratic value systems. They provide a work climate in which everyone has a chance to grow and mature as individuals, as members of a team by satisfying their own needs, while working for the success of the organization. “Self managed teams are closely associated with the concept of employee empowerment which entails the employee to have the requisite authority and resources required by him to carry out his responsibilities. Roadblocks and risks of SMTs Three major SMT roadblocks and risks are listed: 1.

The difficulty of rescinding the system, once it is established and experienced by the worker. 2. Varying levels and degrees of resistance by various elements in the organization. 3. Undue peer pressure and its consequences. How Self managed teams differ from Normal Work Team or group A self managed team differs from a normal work team or group in one essential way that the processes or the means to achieve the team goal are designed and decided by the team itself. Given the stiff competition at the global level, all organizations have been forced to focus on developing their human capital. Difference between Self directed team and Self managed teams Work Group – A group of people working together Team – A group of people working together toward a common goal 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 Corporation’s 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: How to Manage a Self-Directed Team

Self-directed teams are quietly but effectively altering the landscape of corporate business management. Top level managers are finding that self-directed teams are 30 to 50 percent more productive than traditionally structured teams. Step 1 Keep the focus on the whole process. To manage a self-directed team it’s important to redirect focus on the series of individual steps, as in the Taylor model, to the entirety of the process. By focusing on the entire process, each member of the team is constantly aware of how they and the other members are contributing on a daily basis to accomplish the overall task. Step 2

Gradually transfer management skills and roles. Part of your job as a manager of a self-directed team is to transfer your skills and roles as a manager to the team. The team as a whole needs to receive managerial training. As they do so, the team must decide as a group on how to delegate and divide different roles. You need to manage this process to make sure that it runs smoothly. Step 3 Meet regularly. As a manager of self-directed team you need to reconsider your own role. It’s important for you to think of yourself more as a floating member of that team, or as a team consultant, rather than as a supervisor or a manager.

If there is anything that you are still supervising it is the implementation of the team’s goals in terms of the company’s overall mission and vision. Step 4 Give the team an opportunity to correct itself. In cases where a team is under-performing or making errors, you need to manage the situation by bringing the problem to the team’s attention and soliciting possible action plans from the team to correct the problem. If the problems persist you should try to re-frame the team’s focus or mission. Only as a last resort should you change the membership of the self-directed team. My Learning: Not all groups are teams

Some people also use the word “team” when they mean “employees. ” A “sales team” is a common example of this loose or perhaps euphemistic usage, though interdependencies exist in organization, and a sales team can be let down by poor performance on other parts of the organization upon which sales depend, like delivery, after-sales service, etc.. However “sales staff” is a more precise description of the typical arrangement. From Groups to Teams Groups develop into teams in four stages. The four stages are: dependency and inclusion, counter dependency and fighting, trust and structure, and work.

In the first stage, group development is characterized by members’ dependency on the designated leader. In the second stage, the group seeks to free itself from its dependence on the leader and groups have conflicts about goals and procedures. In the third stage, the group manages to work through the conflicts. And in the last stage, groups focus on team productivity Recommendations and Suggestions: 1. To create a team, a demand for performance is more important than team-building exercises. You can get a group together and train them in teamwork for weeks but they won’t be a team until they have a common understanding of the need to perform.

First comes the strategic plan, then the tasks needed to carry out the plan, finally, teams are formed to do the tasks. 2. Team basics are often overlooked. Team basics are: size, purpose, goals, skills, approach, and accountability. 3. Teams at the top are the most difficult. Executives have complex, long-term challenges, heavy demands on their time. 4. There’s no need to throw out the hierarchy. Teams are the best way to integrate across structural boundaries. They are the best way to design and energize core processes. 5. Teams permit performance and learning at the same time.