Self-managed teams present management and leadership challenges.  What leadership roles and processes are important for self-managed teams?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The previous post was quite thorough.  I would only point out that one of the most important element for all self- managed teams would be the assurance that communication is constant.  It is important for teams that are operating on their own recognizance to make sure that they have not abdicated the need to communicate.  As these units are experiencing a certain amount of freedom and autonomy, it is important to not lose sight of the need to ensure that there is a sense of communication and constancy in the articulation of goals, deadlines, and completion of work in order to maximize efficiency.  I think that this need is something that is present in all formal organizations. Yet, the structure of these entities can help make communication something that is forgotten when the movement to self managed teams emerges.

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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A team is defined as a group of people working together to achieve a common goal. Every organizational unit in an organization thus forms a team. A self-managed team is a specific type of team in an organization in which team members work together in in their own ways to achieve a goal which is defined outside the team. Self-managed teams are particularly useful in for management of complex projects involving research, design, and process improvement work.

The qualifying characteristic of a self-managed team from a traditional organizational unit or a work team is the role and processes used by the team leader. In traditional teams the manager of leader of the team manages and directs the work of individual team members as well as that of the team as a using formal or positional authority. Such positional authority requires and authorises the manager to define the goals of the group working under his supervision, and also take major decision on means and methods of achieving these goals. In contrast, in self-managed team, the manager delegates authority for all these decisions to the team as a whole. The only outside direction of the team is in the form of goals and objectives of the team specified as per overall organizational plans and organization structure.

In such self-managed teams the role of team leader or manager and the processes followed for managing and leading the team are quite different from those used for traditional organisational structure relying on positional authority.

For the self-managed teams to be effective the management and leadership need to develop the and use roles and processes in which the team leader or manager is a fellow worker in the team and not a supervisor of other person on the team, who leads by setting up good example rather than by giving directions. He coordinates the work of the team members and provides the necessary support for coordination of team work with work of others outside the team. An effective leader of self-managed teams facilitate effective team interaction processes including participative decision making, rather than taking decision and ordering the subordinates to implement the same. Leader facilitates communication among the team members as well as communication across the team boundaries, rather than acting as a focal point for communication through which all information must pass.

The team leader needs to help team members to recognize, develop and use their unique abilities and skills for accomplishing the team goals. At the same time he or she also facilitates harmony between needs of the organization and individual team members.

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