Lyne Mear is a consultant in Human Resources, Industrial Relations and Employees Relations. Her focus is creating work places that are self-generating, solution oriented and enjoyable.
One of the questions I am often asked by people who really want to be front and centre of their supports is
“How can I get more of the good stuff and less of the big service tasks like managing people and doing rosters and paperwork?”
Many families also ask me “How do I get support workers to see what I see, to think ahead and to really do what’s needed?”
I am very pleased to share some of my experience in methods and strategies that will help you develop a positive, flexible and engaged team culture.
Paradoxically I have found that the more people are asked to report and be accountable up a line of management, the less they see things and really take responsibility. The only way to do this is to have practice in taking the responsibility, to really know ‘the buck stops with me on this issue’.
A self managing team
One of the solutions I have worked with people on, is to set up a self managing team. This is a team of workers operating in a manner that requires little top down management. There is still the need for strong governance and oversight, and connection with people, but less of the stuff that takes you away from core business in running your life and your supports.
Self managing teams work best where there are teams of small numbers that are committed to an outcome that is ‘greater’ than the individuals’ self-interest. Teams working in social welfare, social conscience areas are ideally suited to a self-managed team system.
This idea started many years ago when I was working as a manager of a start-up disability service whose aim was to provide support for independent living for people with disabilities. I was asked to come up with a service provision model for a woman with acquired brain injury from a horrific motor vehicle accident. I needed to find a way of providing support 24/7 that was affordable and also encompassed the principals that my organisation had committed to. This woman’s parents had the view that she needed to live independently in her own home as an adult. One of the founding principles was that people have the right to live and develop freely. I believe very strongly in the human right to develop and grow in our own journey. I still believe this today.
We managed both these things by setting up a self-reliant and self-organising team. This structure held the principals of self-determination; encouraged the team to self-determine and was the most economical. Little outlay is involved in the administration and coordination of the arrangement and the team and the person being supported have the opportunity to learn and grow in the arrangement.
That structure has been in operation now for 20 odd years and has been an amazing learning experience for me as well as all those who have been involved in the journey. I am still involved with this woman and her family. For the woman I believe it has provided the best opportunity to live a real life that could have been provided.
I am a consultant in human resources, industrial relations and employees relations, working in some pretty big organisations, and I take these principles wherever I go. I have also taken these principles to work with other families.
The key components
The components of a self managing team are:
- communication – things must be discussed;
- openness – things must be discussed;
- willingess to listen and understand other points of view – things must be discussed;
- tolerance – other viewpoints need to be allowed to be and these must be discussed;
- clear vision – an understanding of what is desired must be obvious and understood by all;
- collaboration – the whole concept is based on the premise of working together;
- flexibility – there are many ways to achieve the vision. The joy and creativity of working in such a team and to experience the differing ways is amazing;
- diversity – adds enormously to the creativity of the arrangement;
- and a sense of purpose – comes back to the vision.
The first steps
Setting-up the arrangement is the biggest and most important piece of work.
The most important parts of the set-up are:
- engaging and enrolling the team in a clear vision;
- developing really clear boundaries and expectations within which they will operate;
- being able to let go but maintain those boundaries
- developing the systems to monitor;
- and working with people to move from having things set out for them, to taking responsibility. This is because mostly people are not used to being able to self-manage and being held accountable for the consequences of their actions. Most people are used to reporting to supervisors.
A team that is self managing well can do things like take responsibility for their rostering, communication and self-organise amongst themselves and develop a common purpose. They may be delegated authority around the day-to-day aspects of the person’s life and learn to think forward and dream into the person’s life, and organise to achieve those things with the person.
The benefits are that people are more able to enjoy their life or enjoy their family role with the person rather than being the ‘manager’ all the time.
I’m looking forward to sharing more strategies with you.