ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

October 1999


Not So Common Sense

A Fresh Squeeze On Labor Relations

Toughening Up Today's Change Efforts

People Before Strategy: Four Types of Employees that Help or Hinder a Changing Corporate Culture

The Missing Link
Failed Mergers Linked to Poor Management of Workforce Issues

A Few Kind Words: The Importance of Positive Reinforcement

Tool Time
Assessing Management Tools


Turnabout Is Fair Play
by Peter Block


Brief Cases

Diary of a Shutdown

Views for a Change


Views for a Change
Consultant Question and Answer

David Farrell responds:
The continuing interest in, and need for, tools to enhance team effectiveness is readily apparent in the themes of recent questions to this column. I want to respond to this month's question, in part, by referring readers to the July, 1999 issue of this column in which we addressed "dealing with difficult people in a team environment", and the July, 1999 issue in which I suggested a number of surveys to determine "organizational readiness for employee involvement".

Self-managing teams represent the maximum delegation of management duties and responsibilities and consequently do require the "systematic journey" the question makes reference to.

Before embarking on that sometimes perilous journey, it is important to define in advance the intended scope of the self managed work team. I don't believe there is any such thing as total self management at work. At least I have never seen one; nor do I believe any organization would want it. Begin by defining the current management duties and responsibilities potentially transferable to the work group. Identify the authority which will be delegated over time. Will it include budgeting, purchasing, work planning and scheduling, hiring, discipline, compensation, performance management, training?

The next crucial steps include: confirming that senior management is committed to the journey and its implications; addressing what will happen to current management personnel whose jobs will be significantly changed or perhaps eliminated along the way; and, determining the sequence in which responsibilities will be delegated.

Now it is time to involve the affected employees in the decision. Not everyone wants to be self-managed, and there are those who become dysfunctional when guidance and structure are removed. Informed consent should be the byword here.

Next compare the delegation plan and sequence with the employees' current job descriptions and competencies. The results will produce a gap analysis - defining the magnitude of the task, the speed at which it can occur, and the training which must accompany the transfer of each new responsibility.

I know of no single tool more effective in accelerating the journey toward self-management than Area Activity Analysis*. AAA is an extraordinarily effective foundation tool that should be used before other, more complex methodologies are undertaken. It helps a work team get started on a sound footing by:
· Defining the mission or purpose of the area or work team.
· Identifying the team's internal and external customers and their requirements.
· Aligning the mission and activities with the expectations of those customers.
· Identifying the activities that add real value to the organization and eliminating those which do not support the strategic mission.
· Establishing the correct balance between quality and productivity.
· Defining how the work team's performance should be measured, and establishing those measurements.
· Making the transition from finding and fixing problems to anticipating and preventing them.

A team that has accomplished the above has begun their journey toward self-management by accomplishing the most basic of all management tasks.

* H, James Harrington, Glen D. Hoffherr and Robert P. Reid Jr., Area Activity Analysis, McGraw-Hill, Inc. 1999.

John Runyan Responds

October '99 News for a Change | Email Editor
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