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Monday, 06 October 2014 00:00


Written by  Alex K
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Alexander Kutappan is a seasoned HR professional. He is an MSW and an MBA. During his 15 years plus experience in the Industry, Alex specialised on Self Managed Work Teams. He dealt with this subject and contributed to its’ success in Elgi Equipments Limited and Dr.Reddy’s Laboratories.  In this series of articles on the Self Managed Work Teams, Alex is presenting the fundamentals about the SMWTs and sharing his experience about making these teams a success.







Top management needs to be committed to implementation of Self-Managed Work Team way of working and understand that it takes minimum 2 years to experience it as a way of life. And it is a cultural change. Top management needs to focus on it very closely at initial stages and to watch over it for its sustenance.

It is always advisable that prior to implementing  Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT), to implement those systems that would help in improving production like  TPM, 5 S, Lean, TQM etc. so that maintaining those systems will be the responsibility of these teams.

It goes without saying,stable work force is needed to make them work as Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs).

Organizational Values need to be in sync with Self-Managed Work Team culture. If an organization has the autocratic culture, it is difficult to implement Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT) concept. Unless the team culture is prevalent among executives and senior team, it will be an uphill task. Similarly Transparency and Credibility of the organization plays critical role. In Self-Managed Work Team culture, one can expect ALL types of questions about the business, practices, values etc. from the Empowered Teams.


Process of implementation


Diagnostic study

Detailed diagnostic study is required to decide need and possibility of implementing Self-Managed Work Teams in an organization. If the company is not in competitive business, it is not required, as it involves investment and focus. Sometimes, it may happen that organization may not be ready for Self-Managed Work Team implementation as mentioned above.


Self-Managed Work Team Pillars Design

Though broad principles and philosophy is common in implementing Self-Managed Work Teamsbut this needs to be tailor made to suit the organizational need.


      Team Design:

o   Normally a team is consist of 8-12 members

o   Team is responsible for end-to-end process

o   Team functioning will start from preparing their Team Charter 

o   There will be rotational STARs (leaders) like Production STAR, Quality STAR, Safety STAR, Maintenance STAR, Stores STAR, HR STAR etc.


·         Selection:

o   To bring in SELF MANAGED WORK TEAM (SMWT)(SMWT)(SMWT) culture, in the context of green field projects, even before they are hired, they should be screened at various level to suit the requirement to assess their Attitude, Skills and Knowledge

o   Aptitude tests, Psychometric tests, Competency based interview etc. are some of them.

o   In the context of brown field, where employees have been working in a traditional way, it is more difficult but it is possible.


·         On-going Learning:

o   Learning is the best way to motivate, especially if they are young.

o   This would include Class room trainings on required Engineering knowledge, On-the Job Training for skill improvement, Behavioral Training to improve their Attitude and Team work


·         Home Away Home:

o   This pillar is applicable, only if employees are young and if they have to stay in hostels.

o   Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) culture is instilled in their community living hostels also by way of empowering them to manage their hostel with required committees, helping them to cross learn from each other too.


·         Discipline Committee:

o   To make them responsible for their behavior, Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) are facilitated to form a Discipline Committee.

o   This Committee will get input from the members and form Guidelines for motivating good behaviors and punishing inappropriate behaviors.


·         Continuous Communication:

o   Communication is the life-line of Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs)

o   There is Daily Communication through Shift Assembly Meetings

o   Weekly Communication through Weekly Review by the Head of the Department

o   Monthly Review by the Head of the Organization

o   Monthly Open House Meeting will be conducted to update organization’s performance, Department performance, facilitate Good performers and to address their grievances.



·         Performance Score card:

o   Though everything can’t be measured in life, at least in performance what can’t be measured, can’t be improved. Each Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT) will have a Performance Score card with Parameters, Targets and Weightages aligning to organizational business goal.

o   Each month they will have their Scores out of 100 based on their performance. This can be a tool for Rewards, Recognition, Differentiation, Performance pay and partially for Career growth.


·         Rewards and Recognition:

o   To motivate Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) there will be Rewards and Recognition based on their Performance like The Best Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT) of the Month, The Best STAR of the Month etc.


·         Skill Based Progression:

o   Acquiring new skills is the motivator in itself. Nobody likes to do routine jobs.

o   There will be road map for skill definitions, acquiring skills, skill assessments and skill progression.

o   Based on skill acquisition, suitability and availability, team members can grow horizontally and vertically.


·         Business Improvements:

o   The purpose of Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) is the business improvements.

o   Productivity Improvements, Quality Improvements, Cost Reduction, Delivery Improvements, 5 S, Zero Accidents etc. will be monitored team wise and individual wise and rewarded suitably.


·         Organizational Design:

o   If Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) are performing well then Organization can be re-structured so that there are only minimum layers to speed up the decision making process and to empower the Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs).

o   If it is a green field project, organizational design will be the first step to start with.


Implementation of Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT) is not EASY, especially in our culture. And it has its own design, processes, challenges and risks. The biggest challenge comes to its sustenance. These points will be discussed in forth-coming articles.

Read 4987 times Last modified on Monday, 06 October 2014 12:28

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