How to create a self sufficient team

In this blog, I will talk about the approach to take in creating a self-sufficient team.

Srihari Udugani
6 min readJan 3, 2024
Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

Many managers continue to get stressed out in managing a team. Few young managers are always in a rat-race to make sure the team completes the work on time with the required quality levels.

The reason behind why many managers end up in such a situation is because, they are not attempting to create a self sufficient team.

Some of the managers fear that, they will get fired, if their team becomes self-sufficient team. Not True at all.

In this blog, I will provide my views on a self-sufficient team, benefits, pillars of self-sufficient team and what approach a manager can take in creating such a team.

What is a self sufficient team?

A team is termed as self sufficient, when the team is empowered to take necessary actions for delivering optimum output with no or minimal supervision.

Following are the advantage of having a self sufficient team.

Team will take decisions for day-to-day activities. So a manager involvement can be limited to larger decisions and strategies.

Team will take ownership of the complete release or deliverable. So a manager can be in a monitor mode to steer the team in the right direction as the need arise.

Team will be able to adapt to changes easily as everyone will be aligned to the goals of the team. So a manager need not spend too much time in explaining the purpose of change.

Pillars of self-sufficient team

In my opinion there are 4-pillars of any self-sufficient team.

As a manager, if you want to build a self-sufficient, check whether the 4-pillars are created within the team or not.

Pillar#1: Empowerment
As a manager, you have to let go some of your powers e.g. decision making to some of the team members.

Without providing the necessary authority the team cannot become self-sufficient.

Pillar#2: Team bond
A strong team bond makes sure they always stick together in achieving the simplest and complex situations.

Without the team bonding there are higher chances of team getting divided into sub-groups and working in silos.

Pillar#3: Ownership
A self-sufficient team takes ownership for performing every activity in the right way.

Without this the manager will end up taking all the ownership in making sure all the activities are performed in the right way. This means more supervision from the manager.

Pillar#4: Continuous Improvement
A self-sufficient team always looks for opportunities to improve consistently.

Without a culture of a continuous improvement, the output of the team might deteriorate over a period of time.

What steps you should take as a manager?

No team are formed to be self-sufficient from day 1. They have to be nurtured in an environment which is suitable to operate efficiently.

So here are the steps that you must perform as a manager to prepare your team to start becoming self-sufficient.

Step#1: Don’t rush the team to become self-sufficient
To make a team self-sufficient you cannot rush the team members. It is important to provide enough time for them to understand what it means to be in this mode.

So as a manager, discuss with the team members on what is the good time to plan the phases of becoming self-sufficient and execute the plan.

Step#2: Coaching to make decisions
Many of them don’t know how to make decision. It is important to coach the team members on what assumptions and risks that should be considered while making a decision.

So as a manager start providing tips on how you identify the risks and assumptions before you make a decision.

Step#3: Set up processes
A team cannot run efficiently without an agreed processes among all the team members. It is important to discuss and get consensus from the team to follow a common process that helps for them to operate without any doubts in their mind.

So, as a manager make sure all the team members are aware of the process to be followed. Also, take feedback about the process to make it better to adapt the process for the current and future needs.

Step#4: Set up guidelines
A team should be aware when to come to you for guidance and take important decisions. If the team feel you are completely hands-off and you are not available when they are in need, then team might make a wrong decision, which could result in lot of rework.

So, as a manager it is becomes important to set up guidelines on when to get your attention and project sync-ups and 1on1 cadences with the team members. By setting these guidelines will help you to have the feel of being in control, rather being paranoid of not getting regular updates from the team.

Step#5: Create an open environment
For the team, it is not enough to have processes and guidelines. There must be an environment for them to bring issues and concerns openly when the team members are not able to cope-up with the work or when they make a mistake.

So, as a manager create an open environment by building trust with the team. This will make sure they feel comfortable in talking with you about issues, concerns, mistakes and ask help.

Step#6: Motivate
Team members often lose motivation when they don’t succeed or things don’t go in their favour. The motivation levels will impact the quality of their work and in-turn could impact the timeline commitments that you have made with the higher management.

So, as a manager help the team members to come out of such failure situation quickly by providing timely help and reminding them that it is okay to fail.

With motivation and open environment, the team members will feel comfortable in facing hard situations.

Step#7: Delegate more
When you feel the team is fairly ready to be self-sufficient, you should start delegating more. This will ensure that the team can start applying the processes, guidelines to start making decisions on day-to-day basis.

The delegation will ensure that they are taking shared ownership and responsibilities to complete given set of activities or projects.

When majority of the team members are able to perform in the environment of minimal supervision, then, as a manager you can consider that the team is operating in self-sufficient mode.

What could derail a self-sufficient team?

As a manager keep in mind about the following reasons which could impact the performance of a self-sufficient team.

These reasons should always be checked by a manager to make sure the team continues to operate efficiently in a self-sufficient mode.

Reason#1: Lack of communication
A successful self-sufficient team knows how to communicate effectively for better results. They use the collaboration tools well and make sure all the team members are on the same page.

Reason#2: Failing to take responsibility and accountability
A successful self-sufficient team cannot be successful unless every team member understands their responsibility and what they are accountable for in the team.

Reason#3: Absence of clear definition of done
A successful self-sufficient team cannot produce results unless there is a clear definition of done from day 1. Without this, the team will build based on a assumption which need not be true.

Reason#4: No authority
Unless a manager provides the necessary authority to the team members to make decisions, they will not be able to progress without your presence. If there are dependency on the manager for every step, then the team will never become self-sufficient.

Final thoughts

As a manager putting the right effort with right intention in building a self sufficient team will help you to work on more strategic initiatives.

A team operating in self-sufficient mode, delivers results consistently which adds value to the organisation in various ways.

When you are able to prove that you can build a team which can consistently deliver value, it will create growth opportunities for you and your team members.

Finally, if you are able to build a team which can operate with minimal supervision, then you will not be stressed out and you will not be in rat-race always. So more time for doing other things.

Happy management!

If you learned something from this blog, please consider leaving a small tip.

Further reading



Srihari Udugani

Knowledge Made Simple and Structured, Decisions Made Clear. Happy success!