A self managing work team is one that has the power to make its own decisions and direct all activities needed to reach its goal. This type of team is formed by management but once formed and given a goal, becomes self controlling. Team dynamics play a key role in the success or failure of the group.
An essential step in the formation of a self managed team is the formation of team roles and responsibilities.
Since there is no single leader in a Self Managed Team, leadership must be distributed amongst team members. Team members discuss and distribute these leadership roles based on team member's strengths. All team members must feel involved and engaged or the process will fail. The extent of these leadership positions is by consensus of the group rather than the traditional appointment method. Team members may initially believe that self managed means that there is no manager who will be looking after them. What they soon realize is that in an active team, every team member holds that managerial responsibility.
Basically instead on one manager the team member has many. Once formed and operational, Self Managed Teams are in control of the group's direction and output to achieve the desired goal. All team members contribute in discussions and decisions regarding which ideas to pursue and which way to go. Team dynamics are again critical so success. One or more team members with a negative or opposing view can cause the entire team to be unable to reach consensus. This lack of consensus can cause a schism in the team that can cause them to become ineffectual.
Opposing views are not always bad. An effective team will listen to all viewpoints and make the decision that is best for the organization or group. Another critical factor to the success of any Self Managed Team is the understanding of the organizations management role and the team's responsibility to them. Unless properly trained, managers may struggle with their role in respect to these teams. The tradition role of command and control for management no longer exists; their role is more of an enabler. By acting as an enabler the manager relinquishes control on the team and provides them support as needed to allow them to reach their goal.
Once traditional management control has been relinquished the Self Managed Team has a responsibility to the organizations management team to provide the same project insight and information that the traditional structure would have. All forms of status reporting and project tracking whether they are financial, task oriented or research related must exist. The last critical factor to the success of a Self Managed Work team is accountability to the organization. In a traditional organizational structure management team members hold accountability for their group's results and failures. In a team structure all members must hold that same level of accountability. This structure works well when all members agree on the direction of the group and work toward a common goal.
This structure can cause finger pointing and discontent when the team does not have a shared vision and work effort.