July 17, 2004
Principles of Management, MGMT 330
When we think of the word team, individually many different ideas may come to mind about what a team really is. Some may think of an NFL team (Tennessee Titans), an NBA team (Sacramento Kings), or a NASA astronaut team with such pioneers as Edwin Aldrin, Jr. and Neil Armstrong as members. You might even think of the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, or Marines as teams. In fact they all are, and they have a great deal in common as teams. However, for the purposes of this paper I will examine the characteristics of work teams, as they apply to organizations and I will supply answers to the following questions: What is a team? Where did the team concept come from? What are the types of teams? What are the advantages and disadvantages of having teams in organizations? What does it take to make a team effective? A work team will be defined for the purposes of this paper by a definition borrowed from Bateman and Snell (2004). A team is formed of people (usually a small number) with complementary skills who trust one another and are committed to a common purpose, common performance goals, and a common approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. Teams generally see themselves and are seen by others as a social entity, which is interdependent because of the tasks performed as members of a group. They are embedded in one or more larger social systems, performing tasks that affect others. The key to work teams is that they are mutually dependent, and this is the major factor that distinguishes a "team" from a "group". A Work group is different than a work team in that there is no significant incremental performance need or opportunity that would require it to become a team. The members interact primarily to share information, best practices, or perspectives and to make decisions to help each individual perform within his or her area of
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