Giving autonomy to your team can be difficult. You don't know if they really understand what has to be done and you don't dare to give them real responsibility, which will result in a bad solution. But you have to give autonomy, especially when you like to grow to a self-managed organization. Like a lot of the prototypes on this website; start small. Don't try to give your team a lot of responsibility at once, they will drown.
The purpose of this prototype is to get your team more connected to your business. Help them to understand what is really going on, what is important and let them have more information about what choices you have to make when you are running a business.
What steps to take for the practice
1. Subjects: Start by creating subjects where the teams will be responsible for. You can think of all kinds of subjects. For example: make them (partly) responsible for recruitment, marketing or sales. Important is that the subjects are important for your business. Do not make up subjects that won't have a positive impact on your business. They have to feel important and they have to have an impact. By choosing subjects that are important for the core of your business, they will also learn how this part of the business really works. This information will help the employees towards self-management.
2. Forming: Now the subjects are clear: let the employees choose in what team they want to participate in. The teams have to be at least 4 and not more than 10 people. If you can't get 4 people together, the team doesn't have enough body to be successful, so don't start this one. This will work best if you don't make it obligated for your employees to join. If you decide to make it obligated, be sure they don't feel obligated.
3. Analyzing: The teams are formated and they have a subject. Now let them figure out what the current state of the subject is. For example: if they like to start with employee happiness, let them investigate the current state of mind of the employees. Let them talk to the responsible persons. Be as transparent as possible. This will help them understand why things are as they are. Let them ask as many questions as possible (use the why method) to really understand.
4. Goals: When they know how the current process works, let them create goals for the first period (a quarter period works fine). These goals have to be an addition to the overall business goals. So be clear on your mission, vision, and strategy towards your business goals.
5. Reflect: Create a meeting/way of working where the teams can present their results and reflect. It is important that they can be proud of what they have done/learned. By giving them appreciation on this, they will be motivated to take the next step and create new goals.
6. Return to 3 or 1. When the goals are met, or the set time is over, you can either start over and reform your teams with newly set subjects and goals or go ahead with the same team and start analyzing again.
Important learnings from my side:
Give them time to work on their goals. If they have to do it next to their 40-hour workweek, both you and the employees will get frustrated.
Give them a budget. Make clear what they can spend on their ideas. And make it possible to spend more by presenting their plans to other teams and win that budget.
Give them real responsibility. This will fail if they just will do chores that you are sick of doing.
Give them a good coach. It really helps when they can ask questions and can be motivated by someone with a little bit more knowledge.
Be open and transparent. Let them understand why you are doing stuff the way you are doing, probably you can learn something from it as well.
Switch teams. Let the team members switch teams once in a while. This will give them even more knowledge about the business.
Most important: let them make mistakes, probably the same ones you have made like 10 years earlier. It doesn't matter, they will learn. And let them solve the problems themselves.
You will get:
Team members/employees who will understand the way a business works a lot better.
Work will be transferred from management to team members. Autonomy will grow, this is a good step towards self-management. Just give them more responsibility on the way.
Commitment to your company will increase. They have more influence on the process and outcome. This will strengthen their connection.
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