Autonomy or supervision, HR Management

There is an inherent tension between autonomy and supervision in teams. On the one hand, delegating authority to the team motivates employees, as they become highly involved in their work. Also, team members are often able to make better and faster decisions than a supervisor, especially if the work is complex. On the other hand, teams need leadership to ensure that the team's objectives are aligned with the larger organisation, and so to prevent the wastage of scarce organisational resources. Therefore, organisations need to ensure that teams have autonomy but also that teams are led appropriately.

Hackman (1987) identifies three team configurations with various levels of autonomy. The first is the manager-led work team. These teams have responsibility only for the actual execution of their assigned work. Management is responsible for all other tasks. How well a manager-led team performs depends much more on management than on decision making by the group itself. An example of such a team is a military squad which is continuously provided with instructions or a crew of flight attendants whose duties have been decided in advance and their execution are monitored by an in-flight supervisor.

The second team configuration is the self-managing work team. In these teams, management is still responsible for the organisational context and for the design of the group as a performing unit. Examples include the education committee of any faculty or a taskforce which has been charged with the design of a new IT system.

Posted Date: 4/24/2013 2:23:21 AM | Location : United States

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