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What Is a Work Team?

Work Team is a collection of three or more individuals who interact intensively to

provide an organizational product, plan, decision, or service. Before calling a group of
individuals a team, several factors should be considered
Identification is the extent to which group members identify with the team rather than
with other groups. According to Donnellon (1996), for the committee to be considered a
team, those same words would need to refer to the committee: for example, How can
we convince the accounting department? or Our solution is a good one.
In a team, members need and desire the assistance, expertise, and opinions of
the other members. If a team member can perform her job without the assistance of
others, the team would not meet the definition of a group.
Power Differentiation
In a team, members try to decrease power differentiation by treating others as
equals and taking steps to ensure equality. In groups that are not teams, members
challenge, correct, and interrupt each other, give orders, and use sarcasm.
Social Distance
In a team, members try to decrease social distance by being casual, using
nicknames, and expressing liking, empathy, and common views. Non-team members
use formal language and forms of address, excessive politeness, and impersonal
Conflict Management Tactics
Team members respond to conflict by collaborating, whereas non-team members
respond by forcing and accommodating.
In non-teams, members react to conflict by threatening, directing, or giving in. In
teams, members try to understand the others views, make attempts to compromise,
and use nonthreatening tones (Donnellon, 1996).
Negotiation Process
In teams, members negotiate in a win-win style in which the goal is for every
person to come out ahead. In non-teams, members negotiate so that they win and the
other members lose.
Permanency that is, some teams are designed to work together permanently, whereas
others are formed to solve a particular problem and then are expected to dissolve.
Proximity of their members. Members of surgical teams, baseball teams, and the cast
of a Broadway play not only are task interdependent but work physically close to one
Types of Teams
Teams will be classified into the four categories determined by Cohen and Bailey
1. Work teams
Consist of groups of employees who manage themselves, assign jobs, plan and
schedule work, make work-related decisions, and solve work- related problems.
They are typically formed to produce goods, provide service, or increase the
quality and cost-effectiveness of a product or system.
2. Parallel teams
Parallel teams, also called cross-functional teams, consist of representatives from
various departments (functions) within an organization (Keller, 2001). Building trust in
cross- functional teams is especially important, as members are often torn between
representing the interests of their function and doing what is best for the organization as
a whole.
3. Management Teams
Management teams coordinate, manage, advice, and direct employees and teams.
Whereas work, parallel, and project teams are responsible for directly accomplishing a
particular goal, management teams are responsible for providing general direction and
assistance to those teams.