A group is two or more interdependent individuals who interact to achieve particular objectives. A work group interacts primarily to share information and make decisions that will help group members to perform their on-the-job responsibilities. A work team generates positive synergy through coordinated effort. The figure above highlights the differences between work groups and work teams. In an effort to obtain synergy that can boost performance, many organizations have recently restructured work processes around teams. The use of teams creates the potential for an organization to generate greater outputs with no increase in inputs. But there is nothing “magical” in the creation of teams that assures the achievement of positive synergy. In addition, merely calling a group a team does not automatically increase its performance.
Problem-Solving Teams share ideas and suggest improvements to work processes and methods; however, such teams rarely have the authority to implement their suggestions. Self-Managed Work Teams are autonomous, select their own members, and implement and take responsibility for their suggestions. These teams consist of ten to fifteen people who assume the responsibilities of their former supervisors: such as, control over the pace of work, organization of breaks, determination of work assignments, choice of inspection procedures, and choosing and evaluating members. Virtual teams use computer technology to enable physically dispersed team members to achieve a common goal. Virtual teams do all the things that other teams do. Three primary factors differentiate virtual teams from face-to-face teams: (1) the absence of paraverbal and nonverbal cues, (2) limited social context, and (3) the ability to overcome time and space constraints. On cross-functional teams , equally ranked employees from different functional areas work together to accomplish a task. Two examples are task forces and committees composed of members from across departmental lines. These teams expedite the following: exchanging ideas from diverse areas within or between organizations, developing new ideas and solving problems, and coordinating complex projects.
Effective team members communicate openly and honestly, confront differences and resolve conflicts, and sublimate personal goals for the good of the team. Because an employee’s success is no longer determined by individual performance, some employees will resist working on teams. So, the challenge of creating team players will be greatest where (1) the national culture is highly individualistic and (2) teams are being introduced into an environment that has valued individual achievement in the past. While some workers will not be trainable, the following summarizes several methods for turning individuals into team players. • Selection. Ensure that individuals can fulfill their team roles as well as satisfy the technical requirements of the job. • Training. Even independent workers can be trained to become team players by helping them to improve their problem-solving, communication, negotiation, conflict management, and coaching skills. • Rewards. The reward system must encourage cooperation rather than competition. Promotions, raises, and other forms of recognition should be awarded for collaboration and team work. Furthermore, individual excellence should be balanced with selfless contributions to the team.
Share information Neutral (may be negative) Individual Random and varied Goal Synergy Accountability Skills Collective performance Positive Individual and mutual Complementary Comparing Work Groups and Work Teams Work Groups Work Teams
Why Have Teams Become So Popular? <ul><li>Performance on complex tasks </li></ul><ul><li>Utilization of employee talents </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility and responsiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Motivational properties </li></ul>