Chapter 10:  Understanding Work Teams


Why have teams become so popular?


Teams typically outperform individuals when the tasks being done require multiple skills, judgment, and experience.


Differences Between Groups and Teams


Work Group – the goal is to share information, neutral synergy, individual accountability, random and varied skills


Work  Team – the goal is collective performance (greater than the sum of individual inputs), positive synergy, individual and mutual accountability, complementary skills


Types of Teams


·        Problem-solving teams - usually 5-12 members from same department meeting to improve quality, efficiency and work environment


·        Self-managed work teams - usually 10-15 members who take on responsibilities usually associated with management


·        Cross-functional teams - members come together from different work areas or departments to accomplish a task


·        Virtual teams – use on-line technology to tie together members in different geographic areas.  They are made up of physically dispersed employees who use computer technology to achieve a common goal.


Creating Effective Teams


The value of teams can be powerful!  Consider these four general categories…


§          Context (adequate resources, leadership, climate of trust, performance evals and rewards)

§          Composition (abilities, personality, roles & diversity, size, flexibility, preference for teamwork)

§          Work design (autonomy, skill variety, task identity, task significance)

§          Process (common purpose, specific goals, team efficacy, conflict, social loafing)


Turning Individuals into Team Players


Be sure to understand cultural difference and prior reward systems (i.e. are individual achievements valued?) prior to introducing teams into your organization.  If you do introduce teams, consider…





Q:  If you had a choice, would you rather work on your own or in a team environment?  Why?


Teams and Total Quality Management

    TQM  requires management to give employees the encouragement to share ideas and act on what they suggest.


BEWARE: Teams aren’t Always the Answer!


·        Can the work be done better using more than 1 person?

·        Is there a common goal for ALL members which is greater than the sum of each individual’s goal?

·        Are the members interdependent?


ex) The Sac State women’s basketball team needs interdependence.  The     golf team does not (they just add all the scores of each individual)



Summary: Consider the idea that “Teams benefit both employees & the organization” …do they really?....



Additional Information for Your Enjoyment


Consider the following “Point/Counterpoint”


Point: Teams are great!


The value of teams is now well known.  The following are benefits that can result from the introduction of work teams.


§         Increased employee motivation.

§         Higher levels of productivity.

§         Increased employee satisfaction.

§         Common commitment to goals.

§         Improved communication.

§         Expanded job skills.

§         Organizational flexibility.


CounterPoint: Teams are not so great!


A critical look at four assumptions which seem to underlay this team ideology.






** Understand both sides of this debate. Q:  Which do you agree with and why?