Self directed work teams are those who carry out a business operation with little or no input from a supervisor or manager. The team handles both the managerial and operative tasks. Organizations with a decentralized decision making process are more suitable to accommodate self directed work teams since they empower employees to take the right decisions.
3M is an example of a company that promotes self directed work teams. The post-it notes product of 3M was invented because of this freedom and the intrapreneurial characteristics of its employees. An optimal self managed team should have between 5 to 9 members.
An advantage of promoting self managed teams is that it improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization. The managers can spend their time on other work instead of supervising the team. Self managed teams promote innovation and hence they are more likely to device innovative solutions to problems faced by the organization.
One drawback however is that if the members of the team do not possess managerial skills, the team will not be able to operate efficiently and may lead to chaos. Furthermore the decision making time is longer since there is no deadline set by the superiors. The initial stage of the formation of the self directed work team may lead to lower productivity before the group gains momentum and starts to produce efficiently.