A team is a relatively permanent work group whose members must coordinate their activities to achieve one or more common objectives. The objectives might include advising others in the organization, producing goods or services, and carrying out a project. Because achievement of the team's objectives requires coordination, team members depend on one another and must interact regularly. A work team generates positive synergy through coordinated effort. Their individual efforts result in a level of performance that is greater than the sum of those individual inputs. Teams have far-reaching impact in the today's workplace. They have become an essential part of the way business is being done.

Understanding work teams in Organizational behavior

Work teams imply a high degree of coordination among their members, along with a shared belief that winning (achieving team goals) is not only desirable but the very reason for the team's existence. Any team is therefore a group, but only some groups have the high degree of interdependence and commitment to success we associate with a team.

Although the desire to achieve high levels of commitment and coordination is common among organizations using teamwork, the nature of specific teams varies considerably.

Two major dimensions along which teams differ are differentiation of team roles and integration into the organization.

  1. Differentiation: is the extent to which team members are specialized relative to others in the organization.
  2. Integration: is the degree to which the team must coordinate with managers, employees, suppliers and customers outside the team.

Types of Teams

Based on their objectives teams may be classified as problem-solving teams, self-managed teams and cross-functional teams.

  1. Problem-Solving Teams: Problem-solving teams consists of groups of 5 – 10 employees from the same department who meet for a few hours each week to discuss ways of improving quality, efficiency and the work environment. These members share ideas or offer suggestions on how work processes and methods can be improved. Problem-solving teams meet regularly to discuss their quality problems, investigate causes of the problems recommend solutions and take corrective actions.
  2. Self-Managed Work Teams: A self-managed team includes collective control over the pace of work, determination of work assignments, organization of breaks, and collective choice of inspection procedures. Fully self-managed work teams even select their own members and have the members evaluate each others performance. As a result, supervisory positions take on decreased importance and may even be eliminated. These teams do their own scheduling, rotate jobs on their own, establish production targets, set pay scales that are linked to skills, fire coworkers and do the hiring.
  3. Cross-Functional Teams: Cross-functional teams are made up of employees from about the same hierarchical level, but from different work areas, who come together to accomplish a task. Cross-functional teams are an effective way to allow people from diverse areas within an organization (or even between organization) to exchange information, develop new ideas and solve problems and coordinate complex projects. These teams are not easy to manage. Their early stages of development are often very time consuming as members learn to work with diversity and complexity. It takes time to build trust and teamwork, especially among people from different backgrounds, with different experiences and perspectives.

There are two types of cross-functional teams. They are: -

Task force: It is nothing other than a temporary cross-functional team.

Committees: Composed of groups made up of members from across departmental lines.

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