How to Develop a Self-Managed Team

Bruce Beggs |

News From Clean '09

NEW ORLEANS — The traditional organizational structure of a textile service company can often look like a puzzle with several pieces out of place, consultant Troy Lovins, president of Performance Matters, told a seminar audience this morning at the Clean Show.
Misaligned teams, goals, agendas and incentives hamper a company’s ability to do business. “Silo” management in which departments work independently and sometimes directly in opposition can develop.
“Silos are the archenemy of the self-managed team,” Lovins said.
A self-managed team is one that has the ability to act, take responsibility for and take ownership of its service when management isn’t there.
Keys to creating a successful self-managed team are:

  • Build a common vision. Lovins suggests offering a broad perspective and using a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis tool. “Get people centered on a single ‘Why?’”

  • Align incentives. Often, sales, service and the office staff are throwing darts at different targets, Lovins said. “Use your vision to create common incentives and they will produce a single ‘goal-focused’ team with similar agendas.”
  • Communicate, coach and measure. Replace old-style route meetings (“Billy, don’t forget to check your oil”) with structured meetings featuring clear agendas, then hold workers accountable for taking action, Lovins said.
  • Many times, a coaching style is more effective than a straight management style.
  • Finally, use key performance measures and make sure they’re “global.” “Let everyone know what the sales team did last week.”

Instead of practicing “hair on fire” management, the leader of a self-managed team can have confidence the job will get done and the company will flourish, Lovins said.
“Imagine what it would be like to go on vacation for two weeks and not have to pick up the phone.”
The Uniform & Textile Service Association (UTSA) sponsored the session.

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.


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