Bonus episode: How to create self-managing teams

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In 2020, businesses have had to rely on their staff to motivate and manage themselves. From CEOs to the most junior members of the team, everyone has had to adapt to keep the wheels turning throughout this pandemic.

Jan 28, 2021

For NEDCare‘s Julia Darby, it was clear that she was trying to take on too much by attempting to oversee every element of the business. Something had to change, so she implemented a new ethos of self management throughout NEDCare – instantly she felt more relaxed and productivity was high. In this episode Julia gives us her top 5 tips on how to create a successful, self managing team.

Read the transcript

Veronica Gordon

Hello and welcome to a special bonus episode of “Then One Day”. I’m Veronica Gordon. In these bonus episodes, we get specific advice from different community businesses that we hope will be really useful if you run a similar business or if you’re looking to start one.

In the last episode, we headed to the gorgeous North East Dartmoor to meet the people who’ve taken care into the community’s hands. In the episode, we met Julia Darby, NEDCare’s co-founder and chief officer.

How did you go from a concerned person to a business owner?

Julia Darby, NEDCare 

The real trigger that spurred us into action – I went along on a cold and wet and windy November evening to a consultation that was being run by the Clinical Commissioning Group, which was focused on closing the beds at the local cottage hospital. And in fact, the beds had already been shut for some time by that point. But it was an interesting evening, the parish church, which is a big church, was full to capacity, you know, absolutely packed out with local people. And the chap from the CCG, he stood up at the front and, you know, basically said it’s ok to close the beds at the hospital because there’ll be care at home for everyone. And there was literally this massive gasp from across the audience, because what we really knew as a community was that was just not the case, at that point in time. And you know, if that was the plan, then who was going to do it?

Veronica Gordon

I was struck by how close their team was, and how that sense of family seemed to be a key ingredient in their success. But she assured me, they don’t always get it right.

Julia Darby, NEDCare 

The moment that I realised we really needed to get better at self-managing teams within the organisation was when I realised that I couldn’t do it all myself. And a need to kind of relieve some of that pressure, but also bring in wider perspectives because I was too close to it. I needed to understand how other people saw the stuff that I was looking at, which was quite a narrow view, I guess.

Veronica Gordon

Self-team management feels even more important now than ever, especially as more of us are working remotely. So, it’s really important to nail down a style of working that can be done effectively from a distance. Having a shared goal, clear instructions, and a trusted network will allow you to empower your team and move forward together throughout lockdown. However, this is easier said than done. Luckily, Julia has done a lot of the trial and error for us. So, I asked her to give us her top five tips on how to create teams that can successfully manage themselves.

Julia Darby, NEDCare 

So, my five top tips. Top tip number one is to ask people for specific support. So, for example, I really need help in looking at our options for tech development. So, I recently went on to LinkedIn and found a guy involved in local tech forums and reached out to him to ask him for specific support. And he’s come back to me and we’re going to have a conversation, which is great. Also, you know, putting out specific asks to say marketing support, and be very clear about what it is that you’re asking.

Top tip number two – once you’ve met somebody who wants to get involved is to really get to know what their interests are, as well as their skills, and then to plan really as to how to grow those people through our organisations. So, they progress as their role develops.

Top tip number three is to give those people the information that they need to develop their ideas. And that can be quite time consuming in having to gather quite a lot of documents and share those and be open about that.

Top tip number four, I guess, is to empower those people to take responsibility for their area of work, but also to make decisions. If you’re going to be the one at the end of the line having to sign off on everything then stuff’s going to get logged jammed in the process.

My final top tip number five is to try and create a self-managing team because that way they are always progressing and moving forward. People are responsible for their own thing and it all just becomes more than the sum of its parts.

Veronica Gordon

Thanks, Julia, for those brilliant tips on how to build an effective self-management team. I thought it was really interesting when Julia mentioned the importance of development and responsibility. Creating an environment where people can buy into company values and truly understand their shared mission will allow your team to work together effectively.

If you’ve been inspired by anything you’ve heard in today’s episode, head to for more information. We’ll be taking a little break for the holidays, coming back with a brand new episode on the 12th of January. Until then, from me, Veronica Gordon, and all of us at Power to Change, we hope you have a happy holiday season and a wonderful new year. This is a Pixiu production.