Do it yourself

The title of this article is not as much an expression of somebody who doesn’t want to be bothered, but more an encouragement for you to take responsibility for your own fate. In the Semco Style roadmap, self-management comes into play when trust and reducing control have been established and have prepared the playing field. The conditions provided by the first two stages allow teams to organize themselves in such a way that they find the best ways to achieve their goals.

This is the stage where shared responsibility and personalized contributions galvanize into powerful self-managed teams. In essence, self-management is ‘self-interest in action at work’. Companies should train everyone to manage themselves, and create a system that makes self-management feasible. This can be done by offering conditions and minimal structures that enable teaming and teamwork.

“A group of people that argues and debates – sometimes violently – in pursuit of the best answers, yet, unify fully behind a decision, regardless of the parochial interests. Teams should be rigorous, but not ruthless.” | Ricardo Semler 

Self-managed, autonomous high performance teams are instrumental to the success of an organization.

Why does it work?

  • Self-management gives autonomous teams control to customize the company, using peer power as a potent regulatory mechanism.
  • Employees work best and most productively in an environment in which they are self-governed and self-managed.
  • By sharing profits and allowing employees to set their own compensation, people will feel valued and invested in the success of the organisation.

There are many steps to take towards creating an ecosystem where teams can perform.

Steps towards self-management:

There are many steps to take towards creating an ecosystem where teams can perform.

  • Let people be free to assemble as teams and to disband again at any time.
  • Let each team structure itself, monitor itself and decide how compensations
    should be shared.
  • Give everyone access to every piece of information.
  • Apply self-management to major and minor decisions with equal enthusiasm and commitment.
  • Hold meetings to make major decisions and to develop budgets, with open attendance to anyone who is interested, but without obliging anyone to be there.
  • Give people the freedom to decide on their own compensation packages and how they will be structured.
  • Let the followers evaluate the leaders, because leadership that is subject to anonymous evaluation depends on enchanting not only your customer, but also your employees.

8 Lessons from High Performance Teams

Working with successful self-managed teams has taught us many things about what makes them work, and the challenges to achieve those conditions. If you are transitioning to self-management, be aware that:

1. There is an I in TEAM
- Challenge: deploy individual qualities while mitigating the risks these same qualities entail. 

2. Expertise is overrated
- Challenge: maintain a multi-perspective focus 

3. Competition drives motivation
- Challenge: manage differentiation (optimal mix of roles, transparency, candor)

4. Conflict drives high performance
- Challenge: create a safe space to express oneself and take risks (e.g. orchestra, flight crew) 

5. Perception matters more than reality
- Challenge: manage conflict constructively

6. Size Matters, Less is More
- Challenge: right-size teams; eradicate social loafing in bigger teams. 

7. ROL (return on luck) can better performance
- Challenge: to leave well enough alone 

8. Intuition is a sustainable source of advantage
- Challenge: use blended intuition to ask the right questions. 

The best teams are the product of difficult trade-offs between likeability and competence, camaraderie and rivalry, with healthy – if uncomfortable – tensions.

Individual Diversity

The interesting thing about self-management is that it engenders deliberate diversity. Constantly grafting new backgrounds and personalities into the mix, avoiding too much conformity. This will only happen when there is respect for the influences and philosophies each person can contribute.

You are then working to maximizing the potential of each individual, making the most of the inherent talent of a person. You create an enormously diverse talent pool empowering teams to organise and develop themselves as the demands of the marketplace change. A flexibility needed to meet the challenges of our exponential world.

There is so much more to be said, so many tools and techniques that can be employed to organise a company for true self-management. If you want to know more please check out our training and programs.

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