Autonomous Work Teams

Randall Davey

 Autonomous work teams are also known as self-directed teams, self-managed teams, or empowered work units. They stand in stark contrast to traditional, top-down, hierarchical models replete with bosses, supervisors, and managers. Autonomous work teams are neither new nor novel. Introduced in the 1960s, autonomous work teams are used today at 80 percent of Fortune 1000 companies [Chron, Lynne McDonald, March 7, 2019]. 

These teams organize around shared goals and vision. Team members function like a crew in a racing shell, everyone rowing in cadence to reach the same desired destination in a timely fashion. In other words, everyone is on the proverbial same page, equally vested in the team’s success. 

Autonomous work teams inevitably foster a culture of collaboration, cooperation, and interdependence. Members count on each other to fulfill their respective roles and responsibilities without coercion or force. 

With that in view, imagine this scenario: Though you have always had a boss, from this day forward you don’t. What’s a team to do? 

  1. Collaborate to establish working agreements and performance standards.
  2. Determine the metrics by which every member will be measured. 
  3. Create a scorecard each member will share with the team every week. 
  4. Talk through what it means for team members to be accountable to the entire team. 

In this model, there is no one up line to whom a team member can appeal or from whom they can get an exception. The team, charged with problem solving and production, maintains a laser focus on the overarching objective. 

Ideally, team members will share ideas, concepts, and feedback with each other, reveal what is and isn’t working, and always be alert to progress toward the goal. No one on the team is greater than or lesser than any other team member but are equally tasked with speaking the truth in love to each other for the sake of the organization’s, and the team’s, success. 

Randall E. Davey, CAP® is a financial advisor with Guide Advisors, Inc. In certain circumstances, he may offer insurance as a sole proprietor or through Guide Advisors, Inc. Randall can be reached at or by phone at 206-486-2477. 

Advisory services are offered through Guide Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor in Washington, and other jurisdictions in which it may conduct business. The information contained herein should in no way be construed or interpreted as a solicitation to sell or offer to sell advisory services to any residents of any State other than the states listed above or where otherwise legally permitted. All written content is for information purposes only. It is not intended to provide any tax or legal advice or provide the basis for any financial decisions. The information contained in this material has been derived from sources believed to be reliable but is not guaranteed as to accuracy and completeness and does not purport to be a complete analysis of the materials discussed. 

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