Self-managing work teams, HR Management

A self-managing work team operates without a manager and is responsible for a complete work process or segment (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg & Coulter 2009, p. 558). SMWTs are responsible both for getting the work done and for managing themselves. SMWTs have the authority to make and implement decisions, finish projects and address problems (Cianni & Wanuck 1997).

Proponents argue that SMWTs make companies more productive and competitive because employees manage themselves, which affords them an everyday work life vastly different from employees in traditional management systems. Instead of being told what to do, members of a SMWT gather and synthesise information, act and take responsibility for their actions (Barker 1993). Cohen, Ledford and Spreitzer (1996) found that for effective SMWTs the organisational context must provide ample opportunities for employee involvement such as tasks that are not routine and where judgement is required.

However, it is important to remember, this form of organisational structure can appear to threaten the job of middle managers. Managers need to address this concern early, otherwise such an initiative is likely to be sabotaged (Manz & Sims 1987).

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