Original Date: 04/07/1997
Revision Date: 04/14/2003
Best Practice : Self-Directed Work Teams
Self-directed work teams (SDWTs) were introduced at Rock Island Arsenal (RIA) in 1995 with the intent of streamlining the organization and eliminating several layers from the structure. SDWTs are groups of employees sharing responsibility and authority to plan, implement, and control the accomplishment of particular units of production or service. A Teaming Design Group was established in January 1995. The Design Group benchmarked SDWTs in other organizations and submitted a design plan that was accepted in May 1995. Planning and implementation were done in partnership with the unions. A Teaming Support Group (TSG) was established and chartered to provide the professional support services essential to the success of SDWTs. TSG began training and chartering teams in August 1995.
The TSG is involved in all aspects of the team development process. Organizational assessments are conducted with senior management personnel to develop expectation baselines for teams including goals, objectives, and values. TSG personnel attend team meetings and review team meeting minutes. Regular meetings are conducted with team delegates of chartered teams to share successes, lessons learned, and problems. Monthly facilitator meetings are conducted. TSG provides formal training courses including executive workshops, team-building skills, coach and facilitator training, consensus and conflict resolution, dynamics of change, and Honesty, Ethics, Accountability, Respect, Truth, and Support (HEARTS) training. Informal training is given as needed. Classes are usually one or two hours in length. Topics include performance appraisals, discipline, problem solving, leave issues, safety, regulatory guidance, customer service, and computer skills.
As of 1997, 158 SDWTs have been identified; 117 teams are formed and in various stages of teaming; and 43 teams have been chartered. Figure 2-9 shows how SDWTs have streamlined the Arsenal’s organizational structure. Teams are in the process of developing metrics for team effectiveness. Metrics are being aligned with RIA’s key business and process metrics of cost, quality, and timeliness. Long-term plans call for development of metrics to measure customer satisfaction. Continuous improvement strategies incorporate additional benchmarking, training, and introduction of 360- degree performance appraisal. RIA has been one of the leaders in the Army Industrial Operations Command for SDWT implementation. Key elements for successful teams at RIA are emphasis on communication and training, recognition of success and achievement, and clearly defined goals by top level management.
Figure 2-9. Self-Directed Work Teams
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