Many companies use teams to help improve quality, work processes, or customer service. When a company is beginning the team-building journey, the leaders need to understand what sort of team they want to end up using the most in the organization. Although many use the terms self-managed and self-directed interchangeably for teams, there are differences in how the teams are used and operate. Listed are characteristics of the two sorts of team to consider when developing work teams in an organization.
Characteristics of a self-managed team
- Team receives goals from leadership and determines how to accomplish their goals.
- Builds employee commitment and increases morale.
- Team members must get training in holding meetings, problem solving, project planning, and team skills.
- Team designs job procedures and determine their work processes and assignments.
- Although little supervision is required, this can be time consuming for leader as the team progress and direction may need to be monitored.
- Requires open communication from leadership on company goals and objectives.
- Team can increase customer satisfaction through better response time in getting work done or answers to problems.
Characteristics of a self-directed team
- Team determines own goals and determines how to best to accomplish them.
- Creates environment of high innovation, commitment, and motivation in team members.
- Team members need additional training in decision making, resolving conflicts, and advanced problem solving techniques.
- Can be high cost since it is time consuming to build team and conflict will occur.
- Less time consuming for leader, but is harder to track progress and verify team is going in correct direction.
- Requires a system that provides two-way communication of corporate strategy between leaders and their teams.
- Teams can reduce cycle time because they solve any work problems as they arise and make informed decisions on how to proceed.
In reviewing the characteristics of self-managed and self-directed teams, the differences in how the teams may operate and which may best be used in a particular organization or situation may be easier for management to understand. With this understanding, companies wanting to use teams to help improve quality, work processes, or customer service may get a better idea how to determine which sort of team may best fits their situation and desired outcomes.