Turnabout Is Fair Play
Consultant Question and Answer
David Farrell responds:
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
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.