November 3, 2012

MU0016 [Performance Management and Appraisal] Set2 Q2

Q2. List and explain the different types of teams in an organization.

Ans:

The development of teams and teamwork has grown dramatically in all types of organizations for one simple reason: No one person has the ability to deliver the kinds of products and services required in today's highly competitive marketplace. Organizations must depend on the cooperative nature of many teams to create successful ventures and outcomes.

Teams can be vertical (functional), horizontal (cross-functional), or self-directed (self-managed) and can be used to create new products, complete specific projects, ensure quality, or replace operating departments.

Functional teams perform specific organizational functions and include members from several vertical levels of the hierarchy. In other words, a functional team is composed of a manager and his or her subordinates for a particular functional area. Accounting, personnel, and purchasing departments are examples of functional teams.

Cross-functional teams are made up of experts in various specialties (or functions) working together on various organizational tasks. Team members come from such departments as research and development, design, engineering, marketing, and distribution. These teams are often empowered to make decisions without the approval of management. For example, when Nabisco's executives concluded that the company needed to improve its relationship with customers and better satisfy customers' needs, they created cross-functional teams whose assignments were to find ways to do just that. Although functional teams are usually permanent, cross-functional teams are often temporary, lasting for as little as a few months or as long as several years, depending on the group tasks being performed.

Self-directed work teams, or self-managed teams, operate without managers and are responsible for complete work processes or segments that deliver products or services to external or internal customers. Self-directed work teams (SDWTs) are designed to give employees a feeling of “ownership” of a whole job. For example, at Tennessee Eastman, a division of Eastman Kodak Company, teams are responsible for whole product lines—including processing, lab work, and packaging. With shared team responsibilities for work outcomes, team members often have broader job assignments and cross-train to master other jobs. This cross-training permits greater team flexibility.

No matter what type of team is formed, the benefits of teamwork are many, including synergy and increased skills, knowledge, productivity, flexibility, and commitment. Among the other benefits are increased job satisfaction, employee empowerment, and improved quality and organizational effectiveness.

Manager-Led Teams
The most traditional type of team is the manager-led team. In the manager-led team, the manager acts as the team leader and is responsible for defining the goals, methods, and functioning of the team.The team itself is responsible only for the actual execution of their assigned work. Management is responsible for monitoring and managing performance processes, overseeing design, selecting members, and interfacing with the organization. Examples of manager-led work teams include automobile assembly teams, surgery teams, sports teams, and military teams. 

A manager-led team typically has a dedicated, full-time, higher-ranking supervisor, as in a coal-mining crew. Manager-led teams provide the greatest amount of control over team members and the work they perform; they allow the leader to have control over the process and products of the team. In addition, they can be efficient, in the sense that the manager does the work of setting the goals and outlining the work to be done. In manager-led teams, managers don’t have to passively observe the team make the same mistakes they did. Manager-led teams also have relatively low start-up costs. However, there can be some key disadvantages, such as diffusion of responsibility and conformity to the leader. In short, members have less autonomy and empowerment. Manager-led teams may be ideally suited for simple tasks in which there is a clear overriding goal, such as task forces or fact-finding teams. Other examples include military squads, flight crews, and stage crews.

Self-Managing Teams
In self-managing or self-regulating teams, a manager or leader determines the overall purpose or goal of the team, but the team is at liberty to manage the methods by which to achieve that goal. Self-managed teams are increasingly common in organizations. Examples include executive search committees and managerial task forces. Self managing teams improve productivity, quality, savings, and employee morale, as well as contribute to reductions in absenteeism and turnover. 

These benefits have been observed in both manufacturing and service settings. Wageman studied 43 self-managing teams in the Xerox service organization. According to Wageman, seven defining features emerged in the superbly performing teams but not in the ineffective teams, including: clear direction, a team task, rewards, material resources, authority to manage their work, goals, and strategic norms. Another example of a self-managing team is Microsoft Project. Team leader Chris Capossela reflects on his transition from manager-led to self-managing teams, “You know the guy who comes into your office with a crappy project schedule and says, ‘This is the way the project is going to run’? That guy used to be me.”

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