Sometimes in a project:
- People are treated as mere “resources”, being part of the project only to work on predefined activities and nothing else.
- The managers want to be sure that everyone is doing exactly what they think it’s the best, and forget that people can have good ideas.
- People prefer to work on tasks defined by someone else because they don’t want to be responsible for their work.
Having self managed teams is a good way to change this reality but to make people capable of managing their own work is a tricky task. With that in mind, the principles I consider most important to achieve it are:
1. Shared vision
The first step to build a self managed team is sharing the project goals. A good start is to define SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achiveable, Realistic, Timed) goals and to make sure that the goals make sense for the whole team.
Once the vision is clear, the next step is to build the commitment. When the members of the team agree to work to achieve the defined goals, the perception of the their actions changes and they start thinking about the best solutions to get closer to the goals.
If people trust each other, a bond is created and there’s no reason to control other people’s work. On the contrary, people start helping each other.
Every self managed team needs an “interface” with the rest of the organization. That’s why one or more people should be able to help when the solution to a problem depends on external factors. These people should be considered part of the team since they share the vision, are committed and trust the other members of the team.
Although these principles look very simple, they’re forgotten all the time. And they’re usually replaced by micromanagement, which on top of wasting people’s time frequently becomes the biggest cause of stress to the team.