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By Ron Williams

Outside of their jobs, employees make important decisions every day. They vote on community issues. They help teach their children new skills. They purchase homes and cars and life insurance. But on the job, how many people are allowed to make important decisions about their work? How many people have input into how they do their own jobs, lead a team, find out what their customers need or make decisions about what will work better for their customers?

What are self-directed work teams?

Minnesota-based 3M is among an increasing number of companies that involve employees in the daily management of their business through work teams. These teams are empowered to take corrective actions to resolve day-to-day problems. They also have direct access to information that allows them to plan, control and improve their operations. In short, employees that comprise work teams manage themselves.