What are Self-Directed Work Teams

Group of people in self directed work teams.

Could Your Company Benefit from Them?

Managed work teams are the norm. However, the concept of In this article, Self-Directed Work Teams (SDWT) is not new. SDWT dates as far back as the early 1960s. Take the Harvard Business School Study, for example. Harvard found SDWT became more mainstream because of the fast-food chain, Taco Bell. Since the 90s, many companies such as 3M and Federal Express have successfully implemented the concept.

What is a Self-Directed Work Team?

Self-Directed Work Teams are groups of employees with different skills and talents. Groups work towards a common goal without traditional manager supervision. The team submits their project to management for approval once a task is complete. 

What are the advantages?

  • Increased employee autonomy and empowerment
  • Employee satisfaction increases with goal completion 
  • Improved sense of employee responsibility and accountability
  • SDWT increases employee morale
  • More effective use of individuals’ skills
  • Employees feel ownership of the results
  • Improved productivity
  • Improved quality and service
  • Greater flexibility with employees
  • Reduction in operating costs
  • Quicker response to technology changes
  • Fewer and easier job classifications.

What are the disadvantages?

  • Who likes meetings? Self-directed work teams may require more meetings and a long decision-making process.
  • Learning how to be on a SDWT can cause gaps in work time as employees transition to their new roles. 

How can you get started with SDWTs?

  1. Train your management team

Firstly, managers need to understand how to empower teams. By giving managers the training they need, managers will be able to help in properly implementing the SDWT model.

  1. Prepare your staff

Secondly, train team members to understand their responsibilities.  Employees that know what they need to do are more productive. 

  1. Teams need the appropriate communication tools

Thirdly find the best communication app for your business. We suggest using conferencing apps, or virtual whiteboards. Whichever form of communication you agree upon, communication between teams is vital to success. 

  1. Bring a consulting service in

Last but not least, know when to get help. If your company is new to SDWTs, hire a consultant to help with implementation. In other words, SDWT consultants explore common issues that face teams.

Examples of SDWTs

There are several variations of self-directed teams. However, some models may not work for your company.

  • No supervision – This team functions entirely on its own. Team members have varying areas of expertise who all work towards a common goal. 
  • Some supervision – Managers with broader experience fill in knowledge gaps.
  • One-time project-based – After a project ends, team members go back to regular operations.
  • Hybrid team – Members work independently or collaborate based on experience. 

For all your staffing needs in Rochester, Buffalo, and Syracuse, contact Career Start today.

Posted on January 24, 2022. Categorized as .

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