Team: Definition and Important Types

Definition of Team

A team is defined as a group of people working together to achieve common objectives or goals. Teamwork is the cumulative actions of the team during which each member of the team subordinates his individual interests and opinions to fulfill the objectives or goals of the group. The objective or goal is a need to accomplish something, such as solve a problem and improve a process.

Members of a team will need to focus on how they relate to each other, listen to the suggestions of others, build on previous information and use conflict creatively. They will need to set standards, maintain discipline, build team spirit and motivate each other. Each member of the team has their own history of experience to help achieve the objectives. They should have a need to see the task completed, but also the need of companionship, fulfillment of personal growth and self-respect.

Types of Teams

Why Teams Work?

Teams work because many heads are more knowledgeable than one. Each member of the team has special abilities that can be use to solve problems. Many processes are so complex that one person cannot be knowledgeable concerning the entire process. Second, the whole is greater than the sum of its members. The interaction within the team produces results that exceed the contribution of each member. Third, team members develop a rapport with each other than allows them to do better job. Finally, team provides the vehicle for improved communication, thereby increasing the likelihood of a successful solution.

Types of Teams

The early history suggests that work simplification efforts by management and labor were most likely the first production—oriented teams. The current type of teams can be divided into four main groups. They may be called by different names and slightly different characteristics to accommodate a particular organization.

1. Process Improvement Teams

The members of the process improvement team represent each operation of the process or sub-process. Usually, the scope of the team’s activity is limited to the work unit. A team of labor six to ten members will come from the work unit and depending on the, marketing accounting location of the sub-process, an external or internal customer would be included on the team. During the course of the team’s life, additional expertise from other work areas may be added on a permanent or temporary-it is disbanded when the objective has been obtained. When the targeted process includes many work units or the entire organization, a cross functional team may be more appropriate with work unit teams as sub teams.

2. Cross Functional Teams

A team about six to ten members will represent a number of different functional areas, such as engineering, marketing, accounting, production, quality and human resources. It may also include the customer and supplier. A design review team is a good example of cross functional team. This type of team is usually temporary. An exception would be a product support team, which would be permanent and have as an objective to serve a particular product line, service activity, or a particular customer. This type of team breaks down functional area boundaries.

3. Natural Work Teams

This type of team is now voluntary—it is composed of all the members of the work unit. It differs from quality control circles because a manager is a part of the team and the projects to be improved are selected by management. Some employees may not to work in teams for various reasons and managers should anticipate this action and be prepared to help employees become comfortable in the team environment or alternatively find work in another unit that still performs work as individuals. Even through, “team work” is technically feasible; there may be such resistance that its introduction should be delayed until there has been substantial turnover.

4. Self Directed/Self Management Teams

They are an extension of natural work teams without the supervisor. Thus, they are the epitome of the empowered organization—they not only do the work but also manage it. There is wide direction to organize their work subject to organizational work flow requirements. There is a team coordinator to liaison with senior management that may rotate among members. The team meets daily to plan their activities, and decisions are usually by consensus. Additional responsibilities may include; hiring, dismissal, performance evaluation, customer relations, supplier relations, recognition/reward and training. The team must have access to business information in order to plan, control and improve their processes.

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