The Winning Team!

Topic: Teams
Publication: Leadership Quarterly (OCT 2010)
Article: Self-management competencies in self-managing teams: Their impact on multi-team system productivity
Authors: J. P. Millikin, P. W. Hom, C. C. Manz
Reviewed By: Lauren Wood

The emergence and increasing popularity of self-managed work teams in the past 25 years have lead many business leaders to claim that self-managed teams are the wave of the future. Indeed, self-managed teams have been shown to positively influence organizational outcomes such as customer service and productivity.

However, some research has contradicted these findings suggesting, in fact, that self-managed teams may be overall detrimental to organizational success. Differences in team composition may be the culprit of these varied results; so, which team member qualities contribute to effective self-managed teams within the larger, multi-team system and which hinder productivity?  

The current study investigated the effects of two team composition variables: team members’ degree of self-management abilities (practicing self-job enrichment and engage in positive self-talk) and the degree of interpersonal cohesion (perceiving similarity between themselves and the other team members).

The results revealed teams which consist of members who are more self-managing displayed higher levels of productivity. Additionally, teams with higher self-management abilities as well as higher levels of interpersonal cohesion showed additional productivity gains over teams with high self-management abilities but low interpersonal cohesion levels.
Taken together, the results highlight the impact of self-managed team composition on multi-team systems productivity.  

How can organizations utilizing self-managed work teams ensure increased multi-team productivity? Organizational leaders need to empower both individual team members as well as the team as a whole. Individual members may be empowered by offering formal mentoring or personalized coaching to help enhance individual self-management abilities. Furthermore, teams may be empowered by providing more autonomy and decision making power to the team. Additionally, if in a position to select individuals for a self-managed team, selecting candidates who display high levels of self-management abilities will lead to the greatest team success.     

Millikin, J. P., Hom, P. W., & Manz, C. C. (2010). Self-management competencies in self-managing teams: Their impact on multi-team system productivity. Leadership Quarterly, 21, 687-702.