Self-Directed Work Teams

Have you ever heard of the term “Self-Directed Work Team?” If so, you have probably heard quite a bit of positive feedback regarding these various types of teams. If you haven’t, you will now gain a greater handle on what these teams are about and how they can function and add value within any sort of business enterprise.

What is a “Self-Directed Work Team?”

Well the answer to this is fairly simple and logical, they are groups of people “teams” that work together within a company to create plans to help control and improve operations and also solve day-to-day problems as they arise. These teams are not led by a supervisor, but instead each member of the team is empowered to take ownership within the realm of their department/section of the business enterprise. By working in this manner, it helps to create a strategy of interdependence and joint responsibility. Within many companies the leadership role is still a position coveted by a manager or supervisor, however, within a self-directed work team, each member of the team is considered a leader and takes on the usual supervisor-related responsibilities. This approach in turn in frees up the manager or supervisor to engage in other work such as employee empowerment, coaching, and teaching.

One company who has been very vocal in sharing their success with self-directed work teams is the Minnesota-based company 3M. 3M is an industrial company that produces more than 55, 000 different products and specializes in dental and medical products, car care products, adhesives, and laminates among many other items. 3M has been applying the use of self-direct work teams since the forefront of the movement and have taken pride in the leadership and monumental changes that have taken place to improve their products, work conditions, customer satisfaction and overall employee effort and ownership. A recent publication in the business magazine entitled “Business Week” noted that enterprises that have chosen to adapt to the methodologies of self-directed work teams are on average 30 to 50 times more productive when compared to their conventional counterparts. This is huge gap in production between companies who choose to use this approach compared to others who do not or may not be familiar with self-directed work teams. Other companies who have also vocalized success with this approach include AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, and Federal Express, among others.

The plain and simple fact is that self-directed work teams increase productivity. A lack of productivity is a major contributing factor towards the failure of many unsuccessful businesses today. If a business chooses to stand still and not change with the times, the business will do the same which is just stand still and it will eventually fail. Some top rated benefits associated with self-directed work teams include greater flexibility, increased employee commitment to the company, reduced operating costs, and improved productivity, quality and service.

All in all, self-directed work teams are a driving force within today’s ever-changing workplace. In an unstable, yet growing economy most businesses will try just about anything to be successful. However, the approach of using self-directed work teams has been around for more than two decades and has proven to be a helpful means of improving production, why not give it a try.

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