Developing Effective Work Teams

Topics: Problem solving, Teamwork, The A-Team Pages: 5 (1605 words) Published: June 15, 2008
Effective Work Teams
Jarred Miner
University of Phoenix

When developing effective work teams, it is crucial to know the difference between a mere group and an actual team. A work group exists simply for the members of the group to share information and help each other perform their own individual responsibilities. Work groups are all about individual contributions instead of team effort, and thus the group is no greater than each individual’s personal input. A work team, however, functioning through coordination and cooperation, has the ability to create a positive energy greater than sum of its member’s individual inputs. In effective work teams, productivity is greatly increased by an overall positive synergy, individual and mutual accountability, and the collective performance of individuals with complimentary skills.

Teams are formed to complete various types of goals, thus it is no wonder that there are many varied team structures to address these various goals. In reference to business organizations, however, there are four main team structures that are commonly used to complete company tasks: problem solving teams, self managed work teams, cross functional work teams, and virtual teams. Problem solving teams are used to initiate discussions involving ways to improve an organization’s efficiency, quality, and/or work environment. In these teams, members are asked to share insights and/or suggests in regards to improving the aforementioned qualities. Regardless, the members of problem solving teams usually do not have the authority to directly implement changes.

Unlike problem solving work teams, self managed work teams do have the authority to implement the decisions that they, as a group, reach. Likewise, self managed work teams are also responsible for the results of their decisions. Members of self managed work teams must be able to perform highly interdependent jobs, and also demonstrate skill in self discipline and leadership. Self managed work teams often function without the need of a supervisor or supervisors, and they commonly evaluate one another’s work. Self managed teams are responsible for their own planning and scheduling of work, assigning of tasks, taking action on problems, working with both customers and supplies, and setting a reasonable work pace.

Cross functional work teams, like self managed work teams, are also fairly independent. Cross functional work teams are always assigned with a task in mind, and thus the members are specifically chosen. In terms of hierarchal status, the members of such teams are nearly equals, but their fields of expertise are always varied. The collaboration of individuals with various skill sets allows the cross functional work team to tackle many aspects of a single task at any given moment, and it does so efficiently. However, with diversity comes complexity, thus the initial managing of cross functional work teams can be difficult.

Problem solving, self managed, and cross functional work teams all accomplish their discussions and collaboration face to face, but this is not so with virtual work teams. Virtual work teams allow individuals who are dispersed throughout an organization to communicate using computers, in order to accomplish common goals. Virtual teams can converse for any given length of time to solve particular problems, and they have little problem functioning as any other teams would. The main differences of virtual teams in regard to teams that work face to face are the limited social context, the ability to overcome space/time constraints, and a lack of nonverbal cues.

Picking the correct type of work team for every given task is the first step to creating an effective team that efficiently reaches it goals, however, there is much more to creating and maintaining a work team’s effectiveness. In regard to team context, there are four distinct requirements: adequate resources, leadership and structure, climate of trust, and...
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