Team Maturity: Self-Organizing

Your team has been in the Learning stage and it’s heading into the Self-Organizing stage. Team members have learned the skills necessary to become self-organizing now, and everything gets done whether you’re there or not. This is where a lot of people get scared. What good am I as a lead if I’m not needed anymore? Couldn’t my higher ups just fire me and let the team do it’s thing?

Not to worry. In the Self-Organizing stage your role turns to more of a Coach. You need to grow your team into learning new things, technologies or tools to help them in what they do. Inspire them to be passionate about their job. This is also the perfect stage to take those team members that you identified earlier as your potential leaders and really coach them into becoming leaders. If you do your job well enough, then they can do your job for you. This is not a bad thing. If they can do your job for you, that frees you up to help with other projects, or start new ones.

In reality, a team will never be able to sustain being in the Self-Organizing stage, though. Teams will cycle through stages. Usually it’s a circular pattern. It almost always happens because the scope of the project changes in some way. Maybe they need to learn a whole new technology stack. Maybe the project has taken a whole new direction and you need to develop completely new projects. If this happens don’t think it’s a sign that you or your team has done something wrong. It’s just a natural part of the team cycle. It should be easier for subsequent cycles. The more your team has experience going through the cycles, and gain experience with how they work inside each cycle, the easier it will be to ramp back up to Self-Organizing.