In this article, I will delve into the realm of self-managed teams through the experienced eyes of Kretov Aleksandr, an entrepreneur with over 30 years of business management experience. Exploring the inner workings of self-management, its profound influence on workplace dynamics, and the fundamental principles that drive its success.
Self-managed teams, also known as self-managing teams, consist of employees within an organisation who collectively bear the responsibility for planning and executing their work, free from direct managerial oversight. In this model, team members assume ownership of their workflow, processes, schedules, roles, and related aspects.
It’s essential to clarify that the absence of conventional management in self-managing teams doesn’t lead to chaos. Instead, self-managed teams often establish a structured approach akin to other management styles, albeit via role-based hierarchies.
“Rather than roles being dependent on power, the self-management team structure focuses on what a role has decision-making rights over,” says Rosie Powers writing for TINYpulse, an immersive employee well-being company that creates healthy employee experiences. “This not only helps create a feeling of ownership over the role, but also makes the employee feel valued from day one.” Self-management isn’t so much about empowerment, but about realising that employees already have the inherent power to drive their own work.
Components of the self-managed team
What does a self-managed team look like in practice? Even though there are no hard rules for self-management, most experts recommend these components:
- Clear vision and goals
Commitments within self-managing teams serve as the driving force behind their operations. Unlike traditional assignments from management, team members make commitments to propel their work forward.
While it may appear counterintuitive, self-managing teams can benefit from leadership. However, the role of a team leader differs significantly from that of a traditional manager. Team leaders are there to serve the entire team, offering mentorship, facilitating team building, and ensuring alignment with the common goal. While team leaders may possess management skills and project management knowledge, ultimate decision-making authority does not rest with them.
Kretov Aleksandr says ‘stay in the know’
Regular meetings, group chats, and updates via email keep everyone in the know. But communication goes further, says Kretov Aleksandr, an entrepreneur with over 30 years of business management experience in the food and beverage production industries. “Only by conveying a sense of community via team-building activities and informal chats that are reassuring can one truly connect people.”
Good communication also entails listening actively to understand employees’ needs, and hearing them out instead of coming up with a counterargument right away. Before driving a point home, it’s necessary to listen and perhaps ask a question to clarify an issue. Listening before reacting shows employees are taken seriously, and that builds trust.
Speaking up when necessary
It isn’t a secret. The ingredients of a winning team are team members who talk to each other constructively. That prevents miscommunications, unintended damage, and poor productivity. But trust doesn’t develop overnight. It takes a competent manager who speaks first, one who sets an example by picking up the phone when something has set them off. In other words, delaying giving tough feedback doesn’t solve issues; things may get worse over time.
Yet the power of being benevolent should never be neglected. Managers who are genuinely interested in a team’s needs ignite a spark of trust. Staff members are typically more open to a manager’s suggestions if their values overlap with their boss’s. Thus, executives should identify similar goals and tell their employees about it openly. Also, relating to people’s anecdotes at the beginning of a meeting can drive trust. Kindness and compassion go a long way.
When personnel perceive their leader as competent, as someone who works efficiently, they trust that they can rely on what they’ve been told. Predictability and reliability drive trust.
Signaling competence includes being organised; to turn up at meetings prepared with questions and solutions. That’s an excellent motivation driver. Also, it’s essential to treat people the same way – like telling everyone about a concern and saying either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a deadline, no matter who asks. Likewise, it’s important to avoid feigning interest in giving support. Additionally, it is essential to avoid insincere expressions of interest and support. Instead, it is more effective to be specific about one’s willingness and availability to offer assistance, even scheduling support in advance.
Building trust is a common challenge, especially when working with new, shy members or remote teams. This challenge gets even tougher when managers realise the importance of keeping their employees happy, productive, and engaged in their roles. It’s a valuable approach for new members and teams, as it allows managers to relate to individuals by comparing them to specific roles like drummers or chefs. This helps break the ice with new members or teams and fosters mutual understanding, reducing that awkward feeling of working with total strangers. Trust, of course, works both ways. Staff members only trust managers who believe in them. Therefore, they should establish expectations and give people free rein within the boundaries of workflows. Employees should be allowed to suggest changes when they see room for improvement. That sparks trust, as does giving constructive feedback on a regular basis.
Facilitating a team’s success
Employees can only perform well if they are equipped with the resources they need. Aside from the right tools, managers should offer solid support by briefing team members.
And checking back with them regularly does wonders. Talented employees should also be given the chance to work on unique projects to develop their career. Whether personal or team success, celebrating success signals a manager’s appreciation. Teammates will be more motivated to perform well in other projects. Expressing gratitude can be done in person or via uplifting emails. And then there are company-branded gifts. However small or big a gesture, being thankful makes a team feel proud.
Success-driven entrepreneur’s opinion
Kretov Aleksandr believes that a company’s success is significantly influenced by the individuals it can gather along its journey. Employees who feel valued and important tend to be highly motivated, giving their best and contributing to an optimal work environment. Establishing personal connections among employees plays a crucial role in making them feel significant and appreciated.
Furthermore, in the business world, Kretov Aleksandr states that promoting self-managed teams is the cornerstone of lasting success. He asserts that having confidence in the capabilities of one’s team and empowering them to take charge of their responsibilities cultivates a culture characterised by innovation and accountability. This approach not only enhances overall performance but also lays the foundation for long-term growth and prosperity. He underscores that trust in one’s team serves as the bedrock upon which thriving enterprises are constructed.