Sustaining TQM through self-directed work teams
Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Business and Public Management
Teamwork is increasingly seen as a prerequisite for many job functions within those organisations seeking to sustain total quality management (TQM). However, the daunting task of creating a teamwork environment within many companies is often left to pro‐active senior management that assumes the responsibility for creating a culture of interdependency. The opportunity for maximising employee potential through empowered teamwork represents a challenge for many managers. These managers who often become champions for success inevitably contribute towards improving organisational performance through re‐engineering the people process. This paper describes a reflective case experience of a small to medium enterprise that developed a team‐based organisation, where all employees were empowered to challenge the status quo, implement continuous improvement strategies and, thus, strive towards TQM. The paper describes how the formation of self‐directed work teams (SDWTs) is used as a strategy for motivating a diverse group of people with different attitudes, skills and personalities, to work together towards common business goals. Particularly, emphasis is placed on the role of the team facilitator within dynamic teams, and the necessary attributes of such a facilitator are identified. This identification also assists in providing an understanding of how a facilitator can assist in curtailing conflict. The benefits experienced by the case study as it sustains its TQM efforts through flexible SDWTs are also identified.