Six Types of Teams

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There are six major types of teams: informal, traditional, problem solving, leadership, self-directed, and virtual. Table 1 describes some of the characteristics of these six types of teams. Six Types of Teams Informal|

* Social in nature * Leaders may differ from those appointed by the organization| Traditional|
* Departments/functional areas * Supervisors/managers appointed by the organization| Problem-Solving|
* Temporary teams * Frequently cross-functional * Focused on a particular project| Leadership|
* Steering committees * Advisory councils|
Self-Directed|
* Small teams * Little or no status differences among team members * Have authority to decide how to get the work done| Virtual|
* Geographically spread apart * • Meetings and functions rely on available technology|
|
INFORMAL TEAMS. Informal teams are generally formed for social purposes. They can help to facilitate employee pursuits of common concerns, such as improving work conditions. More frequently however, these teams form out of a set of common concerns and interests, which may or may not be the same as the organization's. Leaders of these teams generally emerge from the membership and are not appointed by anyone in the organization. TRADITIONAL TEAMS. Traditional teams are the organizational groups commonly thought of as departments or functional areas. Leaders or managers of these teams are appointed by the organization and have legitimate power in the team. The team is expected to produce a product, deliver a service, or perform a function that the organization has assigned. PROBLEM SOLVING TEAMS. Problem-solving teams or task forces are formed when a problem arises that cannot be solved within the standard organizational structure. These teams are generally cross-functional; that is, the membership comes from different areas of the organization, and is charged with finding a solution to the problem. LEADERSHIP TEAMS. Leadership teams are generally composed of management brought together to span the boundaries between different functions in the organization. In order for a product to be delivered to market, the heads of finance, production, and marketing must interact and come up with a common strategy for the product. At top management levels, teams are used in developing goals and a strategic direction for the firm as a whole. SELF-DIRECTED TEAMS. Self-directed teams are given autonomy over deciding how a job will be done. These teams are provided with a goal by the organization, and then determine how to achieve that goal. Frequently there is no assigned manager or leader and very few, if any, status differences among the team members. These teams are commonly allowed to choose new team members, decide on work assignments, and may be given responsibility for evaluating team members. They must meet quality standards and interact with both buyers and suppliers, but otherwise have great freedom in determining what the team does. Teams form around a particular project and a leader emerges for that project. The team is responsible for carrying out the project, for recruiting team members, and for evaluating them. VIRTUAL TEAMS. Technology is impacting how teams meet and function. Collaborative software and conferencing systems have improved the ability for employees to meet, conduct business, share documents, and make decisions without ever being in the same location. While the basic dynamics of other types of teams may still be relevant, the dynamics and management of virtual teams can be very different. Issues can arise with a lack of facial or auditory clues; participants must be taken at their word, even when video-conferencing tools are used. Accountability is impacted by taking a team virtual. Each member is accountable for their tasks and to the team as a whole usually with minimal supervision. Key factors in the success of a virtual team are effective formation of the team, trust...
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