Irani, Z., Sharp, J.M. and Kagioglou, Mike (1997) Communicating through self-directed work teams (SDWTs) within an SME learning organization. Journal of Workplace Learning, 9 (6). pp. 199-205. ISSN 1366-5626

Teamwork is increasingly becoming a prerequisite for many job functions in those learning organizations striving towards total quality management (TQM). However, the daunting task of creating a teamwork environment in many manufacturing companies is often left to proactive senior management, who assume the responsibility for creating a culture of interdependency, among all employees. This opportunity for maximizing employee potential through empowered teamwork represents a challenge for many managers. These “champions for success” will inevitably contribute towards improving business performance through re-engineering the people process. Their actions will also facilitate the development of an organizational culture, which thrives on teamwork. Describes a case experience of an SME that has developed a team-based learning organization, where all employees are empowered to challenge the status quo and make continuous improvements. Then reports on how the formation of self-directed work teams (SDWTs) have been used as a strategy for getting a diverse group of people with different attitudes, skills and personalities, to work together towards common goals. Continues by presenting the use of a simple decision-making framework which was developed by the case study company, and is contributing towards the empowerment of all team members. Concludes with some of the benefits experienced by the company, during their pursuit of TQM, through flexible SDWTs.

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