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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Understanding Work Teams - Group Behavior

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.

A team is a small group of people with complementary skills, who work actively together to achieve a common purpose for which they hold themselves collectively accountable (Katzenbach & Smith, 1993). Team building is a collaborative way to gather and analyze data to improve teamwork (Schermerhorn ,2002). Team has following advantages (Robbins, 2003):

Ø  Teams typically outperform individuals.
Ø  Teams use employee talents better.
Ø  Teams are more flexible and responsive to changes in the environment.
Ø  Teams facilitate employee involvement.
Ø  Teams are an effective way to democratize an organization and increase motivation.

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 consist 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 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 other's performance. As a result, supervisory positions take 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 co-workers 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 organizations) to exchange information, develop new ideas, solve problems and coordinate complex projects. These teams are not easy to manage. Their early stages of development are often 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:

a. Task force – is nothing more than a temporary cross-functional team.
b. Committees – composed of groups made up of members from across departmental lines.

Self-Managed Teams

Self-managed teams are ones that make decisions that were once reserved for managers. Self-managed teams are one way to implement empowerment in organizations. Self-directed work teams are teams that have ongoing responsibility for an entire work process or segment and are charged with improving operations, solving routine problems, and planning and controlling their work.

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