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Self-Managed Teams: Striking A Balance

Here at Kin Space we understand the power of teams. Teams that thrive the most are those that are connected, engaged and inspired.


They are also acutely self-aware and possess the psychological and functional tools to manage potential conflicts that are spawned from a more autonomous environment.


In contrast to traditional hierarchical models in which issues are often escalated to an ultimate buck stopper, the best self-managed teams have formulated succinct and consensual resolution pathways.


For self-managed teams to be a viable and productive proposition within any organisation, there must exist a particular mindset. Ownership. When people are inspired to apply every facet of their identity to their work in making important decisions, they are able to take charge in ways previously foreign to them.


Ownership is a uniquely powerful motivator.

Those empowered with this perspective will naturally gravitate towards the increasingly popular direction of deploying self-managed teams. And those that aren’t there yet, will need to adapt fast into the future.


The growing evidence is that the wave of digital disruption is rearranging organisational structures from the inside out, as businesses diligently fight for survival in increasingly fickle global markets. 80% of companies in Deloitte’s 2016 Global Survey report indicated restructuring was in progress or had already taken place.



The desired outcome is a network of teams characterised by empowerment, strong communication and express flows of information.

For this to be a sustainable and widespread result, we support some proven notions and commonalities that ought to be prevalent amongst all teams.


The first of these is an encouragement of and willingness to engage in productive disagreement, whereby teams commit to respectfully and candidly discussing their differences.


In this scenario, the elephant in the room becomes the hero of the conversation and builds opportunities for growth and more connected working relationships.

The most functional teams are actively conscious of this.


Removing the elephant from the room, by initially making it front and centre, creates space emotionally, mentally and metaphorically to move forward. This universally applies to most communication contexts.


Setting this as a precedent is imperative. Productive teams acknowledge that bringing completion to an issue by addressing it head on may initially arouse some defensive behaviours amongst the team. We like to call it blame, deny, justify. Now there’s a winning formula to reaching a stale mate!


Dealing with defensive behaviours is an art form in itself, and like most forms of art, requires practice, practice, and more practice.

There are some key factors to consider which we can all strive to apply in an effort to neutralise defensiveness; content, delivery, medium, and phrasing. Try it next time you enter a difficult conversation. The opportunities to apply this exercise are endless and the reward is sweet.


Furthermore, teams that are able to consistently prioritise accountability over personal faultfinding are often the most successful in the world of self-direction. Self-ruling teams should adopt the elite sporting team approach where wins and losses are assigned to the group. A taker (link other blog here) mentality is not conducive to the accountability that is the essence of a true team.


Instead of looking for answers as an opportunity to apportion blame, the accountability approach encourages teams to see answers as clues to remedy a situation by addressing root cause. It stimulates productive thinking.


This is also true in the case of operational issues that may affect team cohesion. Self-managed teams that are able to objectively assess the impact of internal functional problems are best placed to succeed. They will take clearly defined steps to quantify the impact on the team’s ability to achieve its common cause and take action based on findings.


The common ideal that should be applied in all of the above considerations of team dynamics and performance is that of maintaining progress.


Similar to Einstein’s perspective on the relationship between life and balance, leading any kind of team is like riding a bicycle. To maintain balance you must keep moving!


*Is the Elephant in your room keeping you from moving forward?


Blog Tags: Communication, Self-managed Teams, Ownership, Productivity



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