Minimizing the Weaknesses.

Radical shifts in organizational structure will leave cracks in the wall that need attention. Here are some areas that require special attention when the structure changes from functional departments to multi-functional, self-directed teams:

Some people want to focus only on their area of expertise.
Sometimes team members feel they're spending too much time on matters other than their own craft. Sometimes they're right. This method of operation requires a strong time management discipline.

Some people need more direction than others.
At The Phelps Group we eschew job descriptions. Everything flows from the objectives and plans our teams write for their clients, for themselves as individuals and as teams. This eliminates our all-time least favorite comment, "That's not my job."

This can be an unsettling situation for people who are not accustomed to goal setting, plan writing or individual and team accountability. For example, account people who are simply "messengers" or "bag carriers," and writers who have relied too much on the mystique of their eccentric personalities are exposed for their lack of contribution. Everyone stands naked (symbolically, obviously) in front of their team and the agency. There's no place to hide in an open, self-directed, performance-measured environment.

Some people are not good at client contact.
Some people are better than others at client contact. So there can be embarrassing moments.

But then again, let's not underestimate the clients' intelligence or their level of expectations.
Clients most often find it refreshing to talk directly to the craftspeople actually doing the work. For example, in marketing communications, those are the art directors, designers, writers, content developers, programmers and other craftspeople who are more focused on honing their craft than their human relations skills.

Vigilance is required.
So even though the advantages to self-directed teams are numerous, the organization must be on guard for the weaknesses pointed out here.