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How teams work
How teams work

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1.3.2 Benefits of self-managed teams

Individual team members may have the opportunity to use their skills and experience outside their specified remit (or job title) within an organisation. Since team roles within self-managed teams are much more fluid than in hierarchical teams, team members may have increased discretion over their work, which can lead to greater motivation and improved performance. Team members may also have greater freedom to complement each other’s skills. Finally, team leaders can act more strategically, resulting in fewer surprises and purposeful team development, since they are freed from some of the management tasks required of team leaders in hierarchical teams.

The benefits of self-managed teams include (based on Howell, 2001):

  • Cost savings: Organisations such as RCAR Electronics in the USA reported annual savings of $10 million following the implementation of self-managed teams.
  • Innovation: Team members have the freedom to review and improve working practices.
  • Effective decision making: Self-managed teams can develop quicker or more effective decision-making skills.
  • Increased productivity: Teams work towards a common goal and are responsible for their own actions. When successful, self-managed teams can be 15–20 per cent more productive than other types of team.
  • Improved customer satisfaction: Self-managed teams benefit organisational performance through improved sales figures and customer service. Companies have reported significantly lower customer returns and complaints.
  • Commitment: Team members can become more involved in projects as a direct result of having increased autonomy and responsibility.
  • Motivation: Team members have shared or equal responsibility so members are accountable for their actions.
  • Increased compatibility between employers and employees: Self-managed teams can relieve stress for the leader, who is then able to concentrate on other tasks. The team is mutually supportive and members learn from each other instead of approaching the team leader for advice.