Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Self-Managed Work Teams

In the article titled Self-Managed work Teams there were several points and examples on how self-managed work teams are formed and operate. The principle behind this article spanned several questions about the operation and success of the idea of self-managed teams. This example from Chevron’s Western Production Business unit, demonstrates the benefits of maximizing human resources mixed with technology and other resources.

Chevron initially formed this type of a team in order to foster teamwork, increase the involvement of their employees, and cultivate the empowerment of their employees. In order to accomplish this task, team members must possess several skills. The perfect mix of technical skills, flexibility and cooperation makes a team. Not only that, the success of these types of work teams such as in the case of Chevron depends on the performance of what they accomplish throughout their task. Self-managed work teams helped cultivate the success of some of the largest companies in corporate America today by improving the level of turnover and abseentisim. By streamlining job classifications and improving the relationships with unions these self-managed work teams were more than an improvement, they were a revolution.

Initially Chevron experimented on the idea of these self-managed work teams to improve the cooperation between teams but also to utilize their resources in the most efficient manner. “The small asset team structure ownership at the micro level instead of at the macro level, resulting in duplication of work processes and poor utilization of resources.” (Attaran,3). According to the article at the level where there are several smaller teams within Chevron’s structure the teams operated at the micro level which introduced the concept of lost or wasted resources. Without seeing the big picture at the macro level the teams were operating at different levels of their own goals. This however was inefficient because they did not realize that if this process was streamlined into a larger global self-managed team the big picture would have been then realized. Chevron realized that the synergy of the individuals composing the group would be much more beneficial, which it has been.

“An important lesson learned from the previous organizational structure was that operating costs were greatly reduced when teams focused on work process.”(Attaran,3).

When the team as a whole realized that the big picture or work process was the goal, operating costs plummeted and productivity rose. After the process was realized the team continued to define the responsibilities of the team members clearly, with well defined boundaries. Chevron took the initiative to demonstrate the benefits of compiling the perfect mix of technical ability and social leadership and communications in their 11 self-managed work teams formed by 5 to 8 members each.

These teams with a perfect blend of technical abilities and social abilities were the core of the organizational structure that started to see the big picture which would later lead to their continued success. To Chevron’s Western Business unit the success of the task relied completely not only on the cooperation of the teams but synergy. A team can be a group but not every group can be a team. With that being said, each group member had to contribute equally within their defined process or goal in order to benefit the goal of the teams. Each team member’s personal goals came second to that of the goal of the team or the big picture. This wonderful process did not happen over night, the team members had to be educated. All of the team members received training in such things as problem solving, communication and conflict resolution which was essential to the stability and productivity of the team. This process was continuous and ever-changing in its nature.

“Immediately after the transition to the new structure, frustrations and problems began to appear.”(Attaran, 4). These problems were not unusual because the problems themselves could have been because of lack of communication or unfamiliarity with the day to day job function. “Simply cooperating with peers and attending team meetings was no longer enough.”(Attaran, 5). As stated earlier a team is much more than cooperation and all team members must contribute to the process. Team members not only have to put aside their differences but they must also make their decision in order to positively affect the outcome of the work process.

The idea of self managed teams relate to everyone at one point in time. The statement made in the article is true, simply cooperating is not enough. In my profession cooperation is only one piece of the puzzle. Each team member is a one man self-managed team that also supports and trains the other team members. Although cooperation is the key, the main purpose of the team was to achieve the goal or task that was prescribed. Personal differences are detrimental to the process if they are not put aside. In my profession however, personal differences are essential to the diverse thinking and creativity within the group.

The perfect mix of technical and social skills and the right management makes all the difference. Teams must be formed on a solid foundation in order to accomplish the task. In the example of Chevron’s Western Business unit one has to consider many things if success is to come out of the structure. If synergy is to be established, but differences are put aside then do you really have the team members true input? If you do not have the team members true input, might there be a higher level of success with that opinion?

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There comes a time where everyone needs to evaluate their skills and abilities. Finding out more about ones self helps a person better understand their strong points and their weaknesses. The main purpose of evaluating ourselves is to improve in what ever skills we are lacking in order to succeed. Success is not only necessary on the job, but it is essential for a day to day basis. In the self-assessment exercises we did in class I found out about my abilities, my competencies, my personality and the requirements for my success in the near future. Not only I got a glimpse of myself, but it was also very useful seeing what these personality traits were good for. I believe that a self-assessment is necessary for everyone no matter what is their occupation or age. It is useful in a way that it confirms what you already know about yourself.

This self-assessment helped me in a way that it confirmed already what I knew about myself. It was really functional and reliable, because it made sense.

Personality traits
I was satisfied with most of my results. I took the time to go through every exercise carefully. Starting with the first exercise I scored high on agreeableness, which is pretty good, because I tend to cooperate with others, analyze a situation or a problem and then give my opinion. This leaves room for everyone to give their opinion and share their concerns. I find this trait very helpful in situations where you have to work in a team.

My extraversion score was also high. I believe I’m a sociable, talkative and an assertive person. As for conscientiousness it described me as responsible, dependable, persistent and achievement oriented. I sometimes tend to assume too much responsibility!

I could describe my personality type as warm, sensitive, artistic, emotional, etc. Although I can’t say that I was always warm with everyone like I am today, I guess it is something that maturity brought with itself. I always saw myself as someone with multiple talents or at least I like to think of myself as multitalented. I tend to engage myself in many things, because of my interests. I’m a curious person and I like to explore, taste and try new things, even though it is sometimes frustrating finding the time to devote myself to the things that I really love.

Master of my faith
I believe that my outcome and my future are all in my hands, because of free will, and liberty to live my life as it pleases me. I believe that every action has a consequence. Our bad decisions can harm us in the future just like our wise decisions will help us in the future. Every person is born with a conscience given by God, but it is up to each person to listen to his or her conscience. I do not believe in luck or things happening by chance. I believe that everything that happens; happens for a reason and that God in his heavenly wisdom does things in order to protect us from harmful situations that we cannot foretell or prevent ourselves.

Strong points
I got a moderate score on my self-monitoring exercise, which relates to the cues and hints people often give you with their facial expressions and body language. My adaptability to different situations is flexible and my behavior can change depending on the situation. I tend to be proactive, initiative and I take action where it needs to be taken. I identify opportunities, but I sometimes tend to take them lightly. I like to show initiative in order to demonstrate me seriousness to others. If things don’t work for me I tend to find ways to make them work, but it is hard to find a solution for every problem. I think sometimes I stress too much on little things that have to changed, but sometimes it tends to create more problems.
I believe I’m suited to operate my own business, but it has to be something I enjoy so I would work hard at it and something I would be an expert. I could give people advice and be sure about myself and the advice I will be giving.

I believe I’m a creative person and I enjoy artistic work. I know that I can be a leader in an organization or work place, because people tend to perceive me as a trustworthy person. I can tell that once people get to know me they tend to have confidence in me and rely on me. At times I feel this pressure on my shoulders, because people tend to be very demanding. I tend to exercise a certain level of influence on people and I see myself as an innovator, because I’m open to new ideas and I do not like to follow others. I like to do things my way and understand things or analyze situations by taking my time and contemplate on them.

I like to achieve, set goals for myself and push myself to stay true to my commitments. Sometime they do burn me and push me to think about my activities, therefore I reflect on these situations, but I believe we can do everything moderately. Having goals are important for me, but achieving them while paying close attention to other things in my life is more important to me.

Ideal Job
The ideal job I envision for my future would be in a clean work place, where I would have contact with people. A job where I wake up and look forward to going to, something I could manage and give orders, have control and make all decisions. If ever I decide to operate my own business. I would like it to be something that would help out people, help the community and be friendly to the environment. Since I tend to be talkative and sociable I would like all my workers or co-workers to be comfortable with me and be happy with the services I provide. I believe in treating people with respect and being patient towards them. It is also important to give people a chance to prove themselves.

Weak Points
The first thing that comes to my mind is my anxiety. I’m always trying to do a lot in little time. This is very bad, because you loose track of time and it is frustrating when you don’t get everything done. I feel rushed and people around me complain that I don’t give them enough time. I often feel that I should be doing something and I believe it is a serious problem. I need to sit back and relax more often.

I tend to engage myself in my things at once, but deep down I know that if I decrease my activities and activities I would be able to concentrate more on each activity.

How I perceive people
I usually tend to be open with people and treat everyone equally, but there are exceptions. I perceive people as good natured and I’m willing to make an effort to get to know them and get along with them.

Final words
This exercise helped me confirm the things I already knew about myself, showed me new traits about my character and abilities, and elevated my confidence by assuring me that the Business Administration program is right for me.

I was satisfied with my results and I believe that I will continue to make an effort to succeed. I believe in myself and I know that I have a big task ahead of me. It all depends on the time and effort I put into achieving my goals. I also believe I’m not alone in this, but the Lord is constantly helping me.

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