Empowering Autonomous Teams
Ivey Business Journal
Autonomous teams — work groups granted the organizational latitude to establish their own internal goals and work practices — have surged in popularity. This article discusses findings from a recent study that revealed a unique set of organizational dynamics that can be nurtured to fuel powerful autonomous teams. Three distinct dynamics were found to prevail in organizations with strong autonomous teams. 1. Firstly, an organization must be committed to using autonomous teams. Weak support from management can precipitate failure. Members of autonomous teams desire the ability to make decisions without significant managerial interference. However, too much autonomy can negatively influence team outcomes and result in increased stress levels in team members. 2. Secondly, strong teams require steady, upfront commitments to allocating resources for team use. Stating an upfront commitment to providing resources can be more significant in motivating team members than actual resource availability.
3. Finally, autonomous teams benefit from frequent face-to-face feedback from organizational leaders. While a plethora of team dynamics, ranging from internal conflict levels to demographic composition, influence the effectiveness of autonomous teams, the power of organizational dynamics to shape the implementation of these teams must not be underestimated.
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