Self-managed work teams play a key role in organizations that take a team-based approach to solving problems and improving efficiency and productivity. They differ from traditional management structures in that workers play an equal role in running a company and making decisions traditionally made by managers that impact on a company’s success. Self-managed work teams have more job satisfaction and are more productive. However, making the transition to this egalitarian business model involves extensive time, training and the redeployment of existing management staff.
With self-managed teams, employees have more job satisfaction because they are directly involved in the day to day running of a company and are more independent. This direct involvement helps them to identify more closely with a company’s objectives. Employees also derive a sense of satisfaction from developing new decision-making and problem-solving skills and working as part of a close-knit team.
According to “Business Week,” companies that use self-managed work teams are 30 to 50 percent more productive than those with a traditional hierarchy. This is because workers have a greater commitment to a company goals when they are more closely involved in helping to achieve these goals. Having a greater share in the results ensures that teams quickly address a product’s problems and defects and are sensitive to customers’ needs and requests. Self-directed work teams have a wide range of skills because of the diverse backgrounds of individual members. This helps teams to develop innovative products and services and to take a creative approach to problem-solving.
Companies making the transition from a traditional management structure to self-managed work teams must invest considerable time and resources in training people in management skills. Training goes through several stages and this process can last between two and five years. Employees get additional training in providing customers service and satisfaction and must learn how to work effectively as part of a team.
Managers may actively resist the concept of self-managed work teams because it makes their role effectively redundant. Organizations may have to offer additional professional training to managers before they can reassign them to jobs that offer the same level of pay and status. Managers being reassigned need to receive highly specialized technical training if, for example, they are to be redeployed as engineers or software programmers.
Based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Elizabeth Burns began writing professionally in 1988. She has worked as a feature writer for various Irish newspapers, including the "Irish News," "Belfast News Letter" and "Sunday Life." Burns has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ulster as well as a Master of Research in arts.