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Nonmanagement Jobs

Lower-level, hourly type jobs—the seemingly most unlikely focus for self-leadership application—have received perhaps the greatest attention. Recent growth in the adoption of self-managed or autonomous work teams in production/manufacturing plants and various other types of work settings (e.g., coal mines, warehouses, paper mills, and service organizations in insurance, financial services, and even psychiatric care) is the most striking example of this emphasis. The primary method we will use here to illustrate the need and potential of self-leadership methods for hourly workers is to draw upon examples from our personal experience and research. We have completed research projects in many self-managed team work systems across a wide variety of industries (both manufacturing and service) and work settings. In particular, we will place special emphasis on nonmanagement jobs by contrasting the personal experiences of Charles Manz (CM) (the coauthor of this book) as a machine operator in a “traditionally managed”manufacturing plant some years ago. Manz was a college student who had obtained more recent observations from a research project conducted in a manufacturing plant based on a self-managed team work system.

The plants were similar in numerous ways: Both used assembly-line technology, employed blue-collar workers with a relatively low level of education, and were even owned by the same corporation. A primary difference existed, however, regarding the way people were managed in the plant.


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