of a “Self-Directed” Work Team”
ago I worked in a self-directed work team. Our manager had accepted a
position at another company, and our company was not ready to replace
him. As a group we thrived under our own "leadership." We were all very
mature in our positions and required very little guidance or assistance
in doing what we did. We became one of the benchmarks for our industry
and launched several innovative processes within the industry that are
now benchmarked internationally.
With that being said, even though we had no "leader," we did have
someone who kept us on track and made any final decisions if the group
could not come to a consensus. The great thing was that this position
rotated almost effortlessly through the group as well! Depending on the
circumstances, the person with the least vested interest in the project
became the leader/facilitator of the project without even having to be
assigned. The more objective person always seemed to step up and take
the reigns without having to be asked. This was the major reason for our
successes. We knew almost intuitively who should lead the project and
who should be the "worker."
We have split up since then and the group now doing what we did is
struggling under the leadership that eventually replaced our manager.
With one person specifically in charge, the creativity of the work group
has greatly decreased. They will never recapture the chemistry that our
group had for leading/facilitating ourselves.
I believe groups like ours are unique and rarely found. Once found they
must be used to their fullest extent.
it take to build and run a team like this? Below, Tim shares some of the
operating standards they used to develop and maintain this successful
Standards for a Self-Directed work team
1. We didn't do anything that doesn't hold up under public scrutiny.
2. We vowed to not withhold bad news from upper management. Bad news is
generally filtered out as information travels upward in an organization
and leads to communication barriers and resultant problems down the
3. We defined "Ineffectiveness" as fatal timidity to act when an
opportunity presented itself. We strove to overcome our ineffectiveness.
4. We did our best to speak our truth as gently as possible. If you
always tell the truth you never have to remember what you said.
5. We overcame our need for individual approval and accolades, doing our
best to see everyone of equal value and importance. One person, a first
among equals, was usually assigned the power to make a final decision.
This role changed easily as dictated by the situation and was based on
passion, interest, and expertise. There is no end to what we can achieve
if we are not concerned with who gets the credit.
developed a culture that made sharing anything OK. So we often shared
and acted on our gut feelings. These were seldom wrong.
7. .We never blind sided anyone. We always had a thorough pre brief
before briefings so that management always knew what was going to be
shared, which developed their trust in us.
8. We developed means to entertain healthy conflict and differing points
of view using three-point communication. This meant allowing or
encouraging a devil's advocate point of view and a neutral third party
to keep the debate healthy.
9. We practiced what we preached and coached each other do operate out
of integrity and to be accountable to the standards we espoused.
10. We performed team
building activities within our group to maintain and grow our team. We
would also debrief each other to validate senses and perceptions about
what went on in the group.
About the Author
Steve Davis, M.A.,
M.S., is a Facilitator's Coach, Infoprenuer, and free-lance human,
helping facilitators, organizational leaders, educators, trainers,
coaches and consultants present themselves confidently, access their
creativity, empower their under-performing groups, enhance their
facilitation skills, and build their business online and offline. Does
leading or participating in groups frustrate you? Subscribe to his free
weekly ezine at
www.MasterFacilitatorJournal.com. Contact him at
or 760-375-7384 to schedule a free exploratory coaching session.
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www.MasterFacilitatorJournal.com. All rights reserved.