Failed experiment with the system of self-managed teams

In the early 1990-ies one of the leading hotel companies have set up an experiment, replacing the traditional function of management on the system of self-managed teams. This thought belonged to a member of senior management whose endless ideas are accepted only because he knew how to present them correctly. Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman in the book “First, break all the rules!” divided heavy the results of this experiment.

The head was imagining a hotel that accepts commands. Each team had to come in a certain number of maids, doormen, bellboys, workers of support services and waiters. Team members had to independently manage workflow, establishing schedules, allocating responsibilities and maintaining discipline. The award was given to each team, which stimulated the mutual support of its members. Everyone could get a raise only after you learn to cope with other functional roles on the team. The more features, the higher the fees. It was assumed that in this way will stimulate the desire of each employee to the growth. The whole system was under the supervision of two supervisors, whose job was not managing people, but only monitoring of the correct functioning of the command structure. It was a great plan… with only one drawback: it didn’t work.

As expected from good employees, they liked the idea of mutual support, but the “team” system has led them into confusion. Best maids refused to go into the registrars. Registrars did not want to lay the tables, and the waiters were panicking, they find themselves at the reception Desk, and watched in horror what a mess they do the clerks who carried the trays. All felt out of place. Nobody understood what was expected of him. Because assessed work of the team as a whole, no one felt responsible for anything. Controversy arose, customers complained, and the few managers who was simply to introduce newcomers to the matter, everywhere tossed and turned, settling the conflicts which constantly broke out.

It was a real mess. The author of the idea tried to save her, but nothing helped. In the end the hotel had to return to the traditional system, and the company had to sell. The price of the experiment was prohibitive.

Unfortunately, the same fate awaits the majority of companies made a rash choice. You cannot assign roles to those who, by definition, not able to cope with them.

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