What is a Team? Definition, Features, Types, and Strategies To Manage

What is Team?

We certainly once are a team member anywhere. In school/college when there was an annual program, we participated and performed as team members in games like volleyball, football, hockey, etc.

A team can be defined as a group of people who interact and influence each other for the achievement of a common purpose. Team members are mutually accountable for achieving common objectives.

The best definition of a team may be, when, members are the backbone to each other, members are sure they will get the same response as they provide, builds synergy, everyone is optimistic, and no one left the ground until the goal is achieved.

One of the most essential functions of an excellent leader is to create team spirit among the group members. Mostly we see the use of team words in sports games like cricket, football, volleyball, and hockey.

Effective team building is equally essential for the success of an organization. For effective team building dynamic leadership qualities are essential. In organizations, teams are created among employees for the attainment of organizational objectives effectively and efficiently.

The ideology of the team can be broadly classified into four orientations viz, power, role, task, and performance. If the ideology of the team and the preferred ideology of the members are also the same orientation, there is a perfect match and members can have sound psychological contact with the teams.

Teams potentially make more creative decisions and coordinate work without the need for close supervision. All teams require some form of communication to coordinate and share common objectives.

Definitions of Teams:

  • A group whose individual effort results in a performance that is greater than the sum of the individual inputs – S. P. Robbins
  • A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, set a performance goal, and an approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable – Katzenbach and Douglas Smith
  • A team is a group of workers that functions as a unit, often with little or no supervision to carry out organizational functions – Ricky W. Griffins

Thus, a team is a formal group made up of interdependent individuals who are responsible for achieving common objectives. A team generates synergy through coordinated efforts.

Also Read: The 4 Styles of Leadership Based on Authority [Explained]

Teams are more flexible and responsive to changing events than traditional departments or other forms of permanent grouping. Teams facilitate employees’ participation in the opening decision.

Characteristics of Team

An effective work team is characterized by its following attributes.

Diverse Expertise

A team comprises a small group of individuals who possess different skills that complement one another, allowing them to tackle various aspects of a project or problem effectively.

Shared Objectives

All team members must align and work towards common goals, ensuring everyone is on the same page and focused on achieving the desired outcomes.

Empowered Autonomy

Teams are self-directed, autonomous, and self-managing entities, empowered to make decisions and take responsibility for their actions without constant supervision.

Individual and Collective Responsibility

Each team member is accountable for their own contributions and actions, while also embracing mutual accountability to foster a sense of ownership and ensure collective success.

Unified Commitment

A team demonstrates tireless dedication and unity toward the accomplishment of shared objectives, fostering a collaborative environment where everyone is committed to achieving success.

Effective Communication

Two-way communication channels are established within the team, facilitating open dialogue, active listening, and understanding among members, leading to better collaboration and problem-solving.

Synergy and Coordination

Through coordinated efforts, a team generates synergy by leveraging the collective strengths and skills of its members, creating a harmonious and amplified effect that enhances overall productivity and outcomes.

Leadership Roles

Within the team, specific individuals take on leadership roles, guiding and directing the team toward goal achievement, providing guidance, and support, and fostering a positive team dynamic.

Difference Between a Team and a Group

There are differences between teams and groups. They are not the same thing. All teams are groups because they consist of people within a unifying relationship. But not all groups are teams, some groups are just people assembled.

Also Read: What is Autocratic Leadership? Definition, Features, Types, Examples, and Pros/Cons

Other differences include:

GroupTeam
Group has a strong, clearly focused leader.The team has shared leadership goals.
Individual accountability.Individual and mutual accountability.
The group’s purpose is the same as the broader
organizational mission.
Specific team purposes that the team itself
delivers.
Runs efficient meetings.Encourages open-ended discussion and active
problem-solving meetings.
Individual work products.Collective work products.
Neutral synergy (sometimes negative).Positive synergy.
Random and varied skills.Complementary skills.

Types of Teams

There are several types of teams that can be found in the workplace. Work teams are responsible for a specific set of the task, the most common types of teams include the following four:

4 types of team

Problem-Solving Team

As the name implies, teams are formed to solve organizational problems. Problem-solving teams are composed of 5 to 12 employees from the same department to improve quality, efficiency, and work environment.

In problem-solving teams, members share ideas or offer suggestions on how work processes and methods can be improved. Members are not fully independent, they can offer suggestions but can not force implementation.

Quality circle falls in this category. Quality circles are small teams of employees consisting of 8 to 10 members, who share an area of responsibility. They meet regularly to discuss their problems, investigate the cause of problems, recommend solutions, and take corrective actions. They assume the responsibility for solving quality problems and evaluate their own feedback.

Self-Managed Team

A self-managed team is a formal group of employees that operates without a manager. These are the small group of employees, typically 10 to 15 number, who perform highly related or independent jobs and bear the responsibilities of their supervisors.

Self-managed team member’s jobs include planning and scheduling of work, assigning tasks to members, collective control over the pace of work making operating decisions, and taking action on problems.

Fully self-managed work teams pick their own members and have the members assess each other’s doing. As a result, supervisory positions will have little importance and may even be eliminated.

Related: What is Laissez-Faire Leadership? Definition, Features, Examples, and Pros/Cons

Cross-Functional Teams

Cross-functional teams consist of employees from about the same hierarchal level but different work areas in an organization. This is an effective means for employees from diverse areas within an organization to exchange information, develop new ideas, solve problems, and coordinate complex tasks.

The diverse work team can help identify creative or unique solutions. It takes time to build trust and teamwork, especially among those from different backgrounds with different experiences and perspectives. Committees and task forces are examples of cross-functional teams.

Virtual Teams

A virtual team uses computer technology to tie together physically dispersed members to achieve a common goal. It allows groups to meet without concern for space and enables organizations to link workers together in a way that would have been impossible in the past.

Virtual teams can do all the things that other teams do share information, make decisions, and complete tasks. Its members use technological advances, like video conferencing, email, zoom meetings, Microsoft Teams meetings, the Internet, etc.

Virtual teams do coordinate work and take decisions fairly and efficiently. Its members can do their work even if they are far apart and spread in different geographical locations.

How To Manage A Team Effectively?

Effective teams are the key to organizational success. You can follow the following six techniques/strategies to effectively manage your teams.

Appropriate Team Size

The composition of teams should be tailored to the demands of the tasks at hand, considering factors such as job complexity, deadlines, and desired outcomes. It is crucial to strike a balance to ensure the team is neither overwhelmed nor underutilized, maximizing efficiency and productivity.

Additionally, the nature of the job plays a role in determining the team size. For complex and multifaceted projects, larger teams may be necessary to cover various aspects effectively, while smaller teams might be suitable for simpler tasks.

Clear and Challenging Goals

Each team should be assigned specific, challenging, achievable, clear, and acceptable goals to provide a sense of direction and purpose. Well-defined objectives help team members align their efforts, prioritize tasks, and stay motivated.

Furthermore, the goals should be realistic and attainable, considering the available resources and capabilities of the team.

Fair and Consistent Management Policies

Effective team management requires fair and consistent policies and practices. This includes providing equal opportunities for team members to contribute, recognizing and rewarding achievements, and establishing transparent evaluation criteria. Such practices foster a positive team culture, build trust, and enhance overall performance.

Equal Importance of Individuals

Each team member should be valued and treated as an integral part of the team’s success. Recognizing the unique skills and perspectives that each individual brings promotes collaboration, creativity, and innovation.

Encouraging open communication and respecting diverse contributions leads to a more inclusive and productive team environment.

Effective Conflict Management

Conflicts within teams are inevitable, but they should be addressed promptly and transparently. Implementing effective conflict management strategies, such as active listening, mediation, and compromise, enables team members to express their concerns and find mutually satisfactory resolutions.

This promotes a healthy team dynamic, strengthens relationships, and avoids potential disruptions to productivity.

Adequate Resource Allocation

Providing teams with the necessary resources is crucial for their success. Adequate resources include tangible assets like funding, equipment, and technology, as well as intangible resources like training and mentorship.

Ensuring teams have access to the right resources empowers them to execute tasks efficiently, overcome challenges, and deliver high-quality results.

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