‘Assigning tasks, checking work status, following up with the team, and communicating with stakeholders.’
This is how most managers start their everyday work. Followed by team meetings, tracking everybody’s daily work, and even keeping the team’s morale up.
Managers spend a large part of their time managing and motivating their teams – occupying a very precarious position in the organisation. They have to support and guide their teams while being accountable for each team member to their superior management.
They have to maintain a delicate balance between the two because they are burning candles at both ends.
And while some of it is critical for teams and businesses to grow, most of what managers do can be unburdened if teams follow self management in their everyday work.
“Most of what we call management today consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.” – Peter Drucker, (1909–2005), a management consultant, educator, and author, also known as the founder of modern management.
There are some obvious gaps in the traditional model of management. And as management evolves to a more modern approach, managers should be more focused on leading than monitoring.
Self Management : The Sweet Spot
Getting maximum productivity and engagement from teams is at the top of most managers’ priority list. One management technique that has long been a staple and has gained popularity recently – is the sense of self management
But with increasing popularity, it is often misunderstood.
For a lot of teams today, self managed means the absence of a manager. They believe teams that are capable of self managing their actions do not need a manager.
But that’s far from the truth. In fact, managing their teams is only a part of manager’s work. Moreover, they are an active contributor in motivating their teams and guiding them in the right direction.
And somewhere between independently managed teams, and the traditional ways of management, you find your sweet spot.
Benefits of self management
The ideal work environment is where team members are driven and capable of managing their work and time without supervision but at the same time have someone to ask for help when needed.
A sense of ownership among team members is essential to ensure that managers are able to better support their teams.
Self management can considerably speed things up. When each team member is aware of their tasks for the day when they come to work in the morning, they are able to save a lot more of their time and accomplish everything quickly.
As Jenny Thai wrote for Wavelength, “Instead of a traditional management hierarchy authorising every decision, when teams make the call, they are able to move much faster to tackle new opportunities and challenges.”
And managing highly productive teams is easier because they ensure that things are always on track.
When teams self manage, they have a higher sense of ownership and accountability.
This authority over their own work makes them feel like an indispensable and valuable part of the team. But more than empowerment, it is important to realise that teams are capable of driving their own work if given the opportunity.
Further, this sense of accountability promotes a culture where team members update their managers as and when the work is done. And managers no longer have to consistently follow up with their teams.
Self management can help accomplish a working model that traditional methods of working cannot. It ensures that team members personally care about their work which makes it possible for team members to be more innovative.
It has been proven time and time again that a sense of self management begets more creative problem solving, diverse perspectives, and higher responsiveness. And developing this sense in their teams can help managers achieve more innovation in work.
How to Enable Team Members to be More Self Managed
Develop team roles and processes
The basic need of any team is the right processes. Teams cannot self manage and thrive without set guidelines and team roles.
For instance, we have only two job roles defined for our teams: owner and helper. Although multiple team members can contribute to projects and tasks, it is essential that the ownership lies with one single team member. And having only two job roles enables us to make faster decisions and move forward quickly with each action.
Similarly, teams need properly laid out guidelines for communication, collaboration, and the way they work to thrive in an independent environment.
Improve communication channels
When working in a team, it is always important to identify the right channels and hygiene for communication.
And just providing your team with the right tools to enhance communication isn’t enough. You also need to set guidelines on how team members will send messages, what is the ideal time they can take to respond, and how to communicate urgently.
Provide initial guidance
While self-managed teams usually guide themselves, it is essential to provide some initial guidance. You do not just need to lay down processes but also need to help your team adapt well into them.
Teams can always adjust their processes accordingly to what works best for them. But you shouldn’t rule out the possibility of training your teams to work better when self managing, especially if it is a new concept for them.
Develop team building practices
A culture of trust is must for’independent’ teams to communicate and work well together. And the easiest way to achieve this is by enabling team members to regularly talk to each other and build a personal friendship with one another.
One of the ways of doing this is through team building activities. It could be anything from online scrabble to getting drinks and dinner with the team.
It is best that the team decides what these activities will be because they can best understand what their most comfortable environment would be.
A sustainable model of management
Teams are able to achieve more and grow tremendously under the modern concept of self management.
And even managers are able to accomplish more when they work with a highly functioning team. So it’s a win for everyone.
Through self management, businesses and teams can observe higher performance, enhanced decision making, and higher accountability for their work. It is a model that will help teams win the big goals and lead to growth.