Explain why Chevron was so successful in implementing these self-managed work teams

Employee participation is a highly motivating factor for employees to complete their jobs successfully. However, when it comes to the reality of implementing employee participation, employers sometimes look over the concerns of their employees. Presently, companies are touting the benefits of various forms of employee participation in management decisions. In the article titled “Succeeding with self-managed work teams” there were several points and examples on how self-managed work teams are formed and operate.

The principle behind this article spanned several questions about the operation and success of the idea of self-managed teams. This example from Chevron’s Kern River project demonstrates the benefits of maximizing human resources mixed with technology and other resources.

Chevron initially formed this type of a team in order to foster teamwork, increase the involvement of their employees, and cultivate the empowerment of their workers. In order to accomplish this task, team members must possess several skills. The perfect mix of technical skills, flexibility and cooperation makes a team.

The success of these types of work teams such as in the case of Chevron depends on the performance of what they accomplish throughout their task. Self-managed work teams helped cultivate the success of some of the largest companies in corporate America today by improving the level of turnover and absenteeism. By streamlining job classifications and improving the relationships with unions these self-managed work teams were more than an improvement, they were a revolution.

Initially Chevron experimented on the idea of these self-managed work teams to improve the cooperation between teams but also to utilize their resources in the most efficient manner. “The small asset team structure ownership at the micro level instead of at the macro level, resulting in duplication of work processes and poor utilization of resources.” According to the article, at the level where there are several smaller teams within Chevron’s structure the teams operated at the micro level that introduced the concept of lost or wasted resources.

Without seeing the big picture at the macro level the teams were operating at different levels of their own goals. This was unproductive because they did not understand that if this process were streamlined into a larger global self-managed team the end result would have been fulfilled. Chevron finally recognized that the synergy of the individuals composing the group would be more beneficial, which it has become.

When the team as a whole realized that the big picture or work process was the goal, operating costs plummeted and productivity rose. After the process was understood the team continued to define the responsibilities of the team members clearly, with well defined boundaries. Chevron took the initiative to demonstrate the benefits of compiling the perfect mix of technical ability and social leadership and communications in their self-managed work teams formed by each member.

These teams were the nucleus of the process, with a perfect blend of technical and social abilities. These groups were the center of the organizational structure that had started to see the end result, which would later lead to their continued success. To Chevron’sKern River project, the success of the task relied not only on the cooperation of the teams but also synergy within the teams. Each group member had to contribute equally within their defined process or goal in order to benefit the goal of the teams.

Each team member’s personal goals came second to that of the goal of the team or the big picture. This wonderful process did not happen over night, the team members had to be educated. All of the team members received training in such areas as problem solving, communication and conflict resolution, which was essential to the stability and productivity of the team.

The decision to implement self-managed teams within an organization can be a difficult one to make. The rewards however are worth the effort as shown by Chevron’sKern River project. The company was able to prove that teams must be formed on a solid foundation in order to accomplish the task and that the perfect mix of technical and social skills and the right management makes all the difference.


Mohsen Attaran & Tai T. Hguyen. “Succeeding with self-managed work teams.” Industrial Management. Jul/Aug 1999.

www.managementhelp.org Self-Directed and Self-Managed Work Teams.

www.teambuilding.articleinsider.com “Self-Managed Work Teams.” By Rani Connor.

www.csf.colorado.edu Cooperative Business; Self-Managed Work Teams.