How to Create Empowered, Self-Directed Teams

How to Create Empowered, Self-Directed Teams

Date: On Demand (access any time)
Investment: $285 per person
(Discounts for multiple participants)

INCLUDES: One-on-One Telephone Coaching

Do you want to increase your team’s quality, productivity and service levels?

Then consider creating an empowered, self-directed team.

Self – directed teams have resulted in:

  • Increased quality, service and productivity levels
  • Greater flexibility with regards to what can be done
  • Reduced operating costs
  • Shorter response time to changes
  • Simpler and fewer job classifications
  • Better regard for workers values
  • Increased employee commitment to the organisation
  • Ability to retain and attract the best talent

Employees who are part of a self-directed work team manage themselves. They are responsible for planning, controlling and improving their operations as well as taking corrective action to resolve day to day problems. In a self-directed team, the team not only DOES the work, it also handles the management of that work – functions that were  previously handled by supervisors and managers. This allows managers to spend time  coaching, facilitating and developing their employees versus spending time running day to day operations.

In this model, the work that needs to be done is integrated with the needs of the employees, and the people closest to the job itself help design the job and its accompanying processes. According to a study published by Business Week magazine – self-directed work teams are often 30 – 50 % more effective than conventionally managed ones.

Strategies to Build a Self-Directed team

Over the next couple of pages we will look at how you as a manager can empower you team in order to let them direct themselves, leaving you free to coach, facilitate, develop and train your team members. We will also look at the five area’s to concentrate on when building you self-empowered team.

  • Developing Customer Focus
  • Alignment around a common mission and vision
  • Building skills to work together
  • Becoming empowered to improve the work
  • Setting goals and solving problems

1. How long does it take to build the team?

When building your empowered and self-directed team it is a good idea to remember that the process cannot and will not happen overnight, in some instances it takes between 3 to 5 years to build a self-directed team.

The team needs to go through several stages of increased involvement before they arrive at their destination of becoming a self-directed team.

2. Training is critical

One of the most critical factors to keep in mind when building your empowered team is that they will need constant and comprehensive training, more so than any other team.

Not only do they need to learn how to work in teams, they will also need to develop decision making and problem solving skills and also learn some basic management and leadership skills in order to manage processes.

Self-directed teams are also cross-trained on each team member’s job, so technical training will also be required.

Start by making a list of all the important skills both technical and behavioural that your team members will need to become a self-managed team. Identify training programs that develop these skills and draw out a training calendar to help you figure out how much time and money you will need to invest in your team.

3. Develop customer focus

The first focus area for the team should be how to make customer satisfaction their top priority. All teams exist to serve an external source—or an internal one.

Begin by asking your team to  spend time researching and understanding their customer.This will ensure that the team will retain value while performing its job.

4. Alignment around a common vision and mission

It is important for your team to not only understand the organisation’s mission; it also needs to understand how it is linked with that mission.

The team also needs to be clear about the roles of individual team members along with the team’s role within the organisation.

5. Building skills to work together

Your team will need to be able to work together effectively, plan work and resolve their differences with each other. They need to build trust and become interdependent.

As a manager you need to focus on them building a ‘WE’ vs. ‘ME’ mentality.

6. Becoming empowered to improve the work

Once the team can work together and also understand its customers and reason for existing, it needs be empowered to improve the work.

When empowering your team, be sure to do so slowly, let them become skilful at managing a few critical empowerments before taking on more tasks.

7. Setting goals and solving problems

The team must strive for continuous improvement both in terms of itself and its outputs, inputs and processes. This means having the right tools, and methodologies and spending time learning how to use them. Continuous improvement is one of the biggest responsibilities of self- directed teams.

When building your empowered team remember to assure them about their futures, they may feel their roles or they are being made redundant.

As a manager you will also need to learn how to let go and what to hold on to. You will need to learn how to move from a manager to a coach and a facilitator and how to empower and champion your team and the process it is going through

Building a self– directed team can be both a challenging and a rewarding process. It is not a quick fix and it will take time and dedication in order to bring this change about.