The emergence and increasing popularity of self-managed work teams in past 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, instead suggesting that self-managed teams may be an overall detriment 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?
SELF-MANAGEMENT AND INTERPERSONAL COHESION
The current study investigated the effects of two team composition variables: team members’ degree of self-management abilities (practicing self-job enrichment and engaging in positive self-talk) and the degree of interpersonal cohesion (perceiving similarities between themselves and other team members).
Results revealed that teams consisting 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 productivity.
PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR ORGANIZATIONS
How can organizations utilizing self-managed work teams ensure increased 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.