Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0138 | February 3 2004 | 8,000 Subscribers...


Dear friends,

I received an interesting email a few months back from
MFJ reader Tim Laursen. He told an interesting story of a self-directed work team he was a part of in a small utility company he used to work for. In this issue, we share his brief story and include the operating principles his group adhered to to make this kind of team possible. We hope you can take something from this article that you can apply to your own teams and working groups.

If any of you have any interesting stories or experiences about facilitation, group process, work groups, team building, training, etc. that might interest our readers, please
email them to us.

Have a great week!

Steve Davis
Publisher

FacilitatorU News


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Group Management Skill
Story of a "Self-Directed" Work Team
The Point


Some time ago I worked in a self-directed work team. Our manager had accepted a position at another company, and our company was not ready to replace him. As a group we thrived under our own "leadership." We were all very mature in our positions and required very little guidance or assistance in doing what we did. We became one of the benchmarks for our industry and launched several innovative processes within the industry that are now benchmarked internationally.

With that being said, even though we had no "leader," we did have someone who kept us on track and made any final decisions if the group could not come to a consensus. The great thing was that this position rotated almost effortlessly through the group as well! Depending on the circumstances, the person with the least vested interest in the project became the leader/facilitator of the project without even having to be assigned. The more objective person always seemed to step up and take the reigns without having to be asked. This was the major reason for our successes. We knew almost intuitively who should lead the project and who should be the "worker."

We have split up since then and the group now doing what we did is struggling under the leadership that eventually replaced our manager. With one person specifically in charge, the creativity of the work group has greatly decreased. They will never recapture the chemistry that our group had for leading/facilitating ourselves.

I believe groups like ours are unique and rarely found. Once found they must be used to their fullest extent.


What does it take to build and run a team like this? Below, Tim shares some of the operating standards they used to develop and maintain this successful self-directed team.

Application


Operating Standards for a Self-Directed work team


1. We didn't do anything that doesn't hold up under public scrutiny.

2. We vowed to not withhold bad news from upper management. Bad news is generally filtered out as information travels upward in an organization and leads to communication barriers and resultant problems down the road.

3. We defined "Ineffectiveness" as fatal timidity to act when an opportunity presented itself. We strove to overcome our ineffectiveness.

4. We did our best to speak our truth as gently as possible. If you always tell the truth you never have to remember what you said.

5. We overcame our need for individual approval and accolades, doing our best to see everyone of equal value and importance. One person, a first among equals, was usually assigned the power to make a final decision. This role changed easily as dictated by the situation and was based on passion, interest, and expertise. There is no end to what we can achieve if we are not concerned with who gets the credit.

6. We developed a culture that made sharing anything OK. So we often shared and acted on our gut feelings. These were seldom wrong.

7. .We never blind sided anyone. We always had a thorough pre brief before briefings so that management always knew what was going to be shared, which developed their trust in us.

8. We developed means to entertain healthy conflict and differing points of view using three-point communication. This meant allowing or encouraging a devil's advocate point of view and a neutral third party to keep the debate healthy.

9. We practiced what we preached and coached each other do operate out of integrity and to be accountable to the standards we espoused.

10. We performed team building activities within our group to maintain and grow our team. We would also debrief each other to validate senses and perceptions about what went on in the group.


Would you like to republish this or other articles from the journal? You are free to do so providing you follow these guidelines.

Action

Are there any principles you'd add to the list above? Any you see lacking in your own groups? Please
email us your thoughts on this topic.
Appreciative Inquiry Teleclass


Learn a Provocative Approach to Unleashing the Power of Groups. This four-session teleclass on Appreciative Inquiry, is a facilitation strategy for intentional change that identifies the best of "what is" in order to pursue dreams and possibilities of "what could be." Within these classes we will explore the four dynamics of AI: Discovery, Dream, Design and Delivery. Plan to bring with you the challenges you have encountered or are experiencing in the group/organizational change process. These one-hour sessions will be interactive and we will encourage discussion of specific situations in which Appreciate Inquiry might be applied. Click here for details.

Resource


Succeeding As a Self Directed Work Team: 20 Important Questions Answered, by Ann Harper, Bob Harper

What I liked about the book is that it's easy to read, filled with information, goes to the point concisely and simply answering 20 questions on Self-Directed Work Teams.. The 20 questions are answere, but I also liked that each chapter ends with "Questions For You" so the book becomes really hands on.

If you would like a "preview" of the questions... they cover everything going from what Self-Directed Work teams are, to keys for success, benefits for the organization and the team members, the roles of team members, managers and supervisors in the Work team, how to get started and more. Actually, the Business Book Quality Digest called it "the best quick introduction to self-directed teams." It may very well be! -- Catherine-Ann, Vermont

About the Publisher

Steve Davis helps facilitators, coaches, consultants and leaders who are struggling to present themselves confidently, empower their groups, enhance their facilitation skills, and build their businesses on and off line. Please email or call me at 805-489-4130 to schedule a Free exploratory session, or to share your suggestions and ideas for the journal. If you find this newsletter helpful, please forward it to your friends. If you'd like to reprint this article in another publication, you are free to do so providing you follow the guidelines here. Thanks for reading!
 
 
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Thanks for the wonderful opportunity to participate in your Learning Facilitator teleclass. Your facilitation and knowledge were great together. I also appreciate the positivity and support of all of the participants. I look forward to your facilitation in the future. -- Chalis Leeper, Training Specialist
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