Empowered Teams - What's in it for business?
It seems obvious that knowledge workers (those that think for a living) want to organise themselves, decide what to do and how to do it. That is, to be part of self organising teams, empowered to make decisions and really make a difference.
But what’s in it for business?
Don’t the managers want to ensure people are focussed on the most important things, efficiently working on the priorities they’re set?
The world is changing and being disrupted at every turn. To succeed today and into the future, your business needs the ability to quickly adapt and deal with complexity, be constantly innovating and perform better than your competitors. New structures are needed for this, which is where empowered, self organising teams come in.
Deal with complexity
We need better ways of dealing with the volatility and complexity of the world today. Traditional directed management structures and approaches were suitable back in the obvious manufacturing days of old, but simply don’t work in complex knowledge work. The more complex things are, the less you can control them. Decisions need to be made frequently, by the people with the knowledge, not passed up to management. Empowered, self organising teams deal better with complexity and actually stop the system from breaking down. You can’t control everything in a complex environment, you can only influence control. By guiding self organising teams, but allowing them to make most of the decisions, you can vastly improve control of the system, and better deal with the complexity of the modern business world.
How much creativity and innovation do you expect to see from people who are controlled and directed what to do on a daily basis?
Innovation requires abstraction for people to think of things in different ways and make novel connections between them. People and teams need space for this to occur and shouldn’t be tightly directed or constrained if you want them to think differently - and you can’t afford not to.
Teams need psychologically safe environments (where it’s safe for them to fail and learn) which allow unstructured, unfocused thinking time, not have their tasks managed day to day. In other words, they need to be empowered to innovate.
Better performance in knowledge work doesn’t come from wielding a bigger stick. Interestingly, it also doesn’t come from offering bigger carrots (rewards) which can result in even worse performance - see Dan Pink’s video on motivation
To boost performance, we want to focus on increasing intrinsic motivation, meaning and engagement. By empowering teams and allowing them to self organise, we not only see more engaged and motivated people, but better performance.
If you want to better deal with complexity, boost innovation and perform better than your competitors, change your systems of work to empower your teams and allow them to self organise.
ReBoot Co. specialise in helping companies make this transition. If you’d like to know more, get in touch.