This past month, General Electric (GE) contracted with ASPLC to train internal coaches to lead their new self-directed work teams.
What are self-directed work teams? A self-directed work team (SDWT) is a group of people, usually employees in a company, who combine different skills and talents to work without the usual managerial supervision toward a common purpose or goal. Typically, a SDWT has somewhere between two and 25 members.
According to Kathy McIntosh of studioD, self-directed work teams require four characteristics to succeed:
- Joint Responsibility
- Common Goals
Successful self-directed teams assign responsibility to all members of the group. This joint responsibility allows each member to feel fully invested in the success of the project. This creates a sense of ownership for each team member. As the team members feel more fully invested, they work harder to see the project succeed. These team members invest more time and resources outside of the team meetings to analyze different actions and research potential ideas. This investment increases the success of the project.
A sense of interdependence among team members increases the success of self-directed teams. Team members who rely on each other for information trust their colleagues to deliver. The team members work together, allowing each one to focus on his own responsibilities and to trust the other members to deliver on their responsibilities. The team members do not need to worry about others completing their work. When team members are unable to depend on the other members, the success of the team erodes.
Self-directed teams need to feel empowered to proceed with their project. A team with a successful plan for completing its project needs the ability to proceed with its plan. The company needs to provide the team with the authority to move ahead with the plan without seeking additional approval. Self-directed teams empowered to proceed maintain the momentum for seeing the project succeed.
All members of the self-directed team need to work toward a common goal. When each member works toward a different goal, the project faces failure. This occurs when the goal of the team is not clearly identified at the beginning. However, when the group defines the goal at the first meeting, the team’s potential for success increases. Each member takes action to move the project forward and the team tracks its progress toward the ultimate goal.
See our For Organizations page to find out how our Applied Coaching Skills Training can help your team become self-directed.