Work Groups and Teams in Organizations

When a professional is employed in an organization, he or does not carry the duties assigned alone. It is common sense and evidence from different organizations all over the world suggests that team work is a core tool to performance. They find other professionals who are employed and they also find supervisors above them in the organization. Through this, different skills, opinions, and experiences are provided.

So what are groups and teams and what is the different between teams and groups? What is the effect of the group size on the effectiveness of a group and what kind of teams are found in organizations. What rules and regulations and norms guide the team? This literature review will answer these questions in depth. (Neum, Wagner & Christiansen, 1999).

Is three a difference between a team and a group? In the common language, we may think of a group as two or more people who are seen together. How ever this is not the definition of a group, some aspects must be added above that. One of the aspects is the aspect of interaction. If a number of people are just seen together and there is no iteration, then this does not qualify to be a group. I am imagining of passengers in a bus, they are many and heading in the same place, but do they qualify to be a team or a group? No, they lack the aspect of interaction. Another aspect is the objectivity. A group must have a common objective or goal, if people are in a group, they must know that they are in that group and that they are working towards a common goal. (Watson, Lynn & Merritt, 1988)

Groups and teams are more or less the same thing. But in organizations, teams and groups may differ. Teams are independent meaning that they can work independent of the management in terms of own goals, deadlines to certain activities and even the approach they use. In other words they don’t need to be dictated on what to do to achieve a certain objective. On the other hand groups are controlled by the management and are not autonomous in any way. Through groups and teams, talents are combined, difficult problems are solved innovatively, the entire workforce is involved in the decision making of the organization, errors are reduced, productivity is increased, and time is saved. (Vlaar, 2008).

So what is the best size of a group? A group can accommodate as many numbers of people as possible. There is no limit to this. However, the lower limit is defined. There can not be a group of one person and therefore the smallest size of a group is two while the maximum number of members of the group is unlimited. In many instances, the size of the group or team will affect its effectiveness. When the group is too large, it will have some disadvantages and also advantages. The same thing will happen when it is small in size. We can’t be categorical on the best size of the group.

To develop an effective teamwork is one of the most challenging activities in an organization. This is due to the fact that the main interests for people working in the organization are individual. Things like promotions, acknowledgment, rewards and even recompensation focus mostly on individual achievements. With this kind of issues, the greatest question is how organizations can create an effective team work. For a team to be effective there must be a team culture in the organization. This way the members of the team will be able to reflect back on the history of the organization and discover that the best way to succeed is through team work.

If the culture of the organization support team work, members will know where team work fits in the organization, whether it’s supported or not and know why team work will help them succeed in attaining their goals and objectives. The team members should also believe that working in teams is important and they should be given the opportunity to form teams voluntarily. Human beings are created in such a way that they always want to make decisions on their own. if therefore employees are forced to join a team they do not know of its origin, or a team whose objectives they don’t know then they may not support it and it will eventually not work. (Gibson, Randel, Earley, 2006).

Another way of improving team effectiveness is by making sure that team members feel valued. This could be psychological but and the top managers are supposed to do this by appreciating things and activities done through team work. The organization can also have some programs to recognize successful teams.

The members should be made to feel that they have the knowledge and skills to perform the duty which they are supposed to accomplish. They should also be provided with the necessary resources needed to perform that duty and commitment from the members of the team is required. For there to be commitment, there must be clear routine prospects. (Gibson et. el 2006)

There should be communication between the team and the organization. This ensures that there is feedback and information flow between the two. Team members should also communicate well between themselves and deal honestly with each other. They must be able to air their views freely when working in the team. These are some of the few things that ensure that a team is effective in its undertakings and all can be summarized in twelve words. These are creative innovation, communication within and without, collaboration between the team members and the organization and between the team members themselves, control through defined rules and protocols, charter, competence, commitment, context and clear expectations. This is all what is needed for a team to be effective in its operation. (Glunk & Olie, 2003).

What kind of teams can we find in an organization? There are a number of teams in an organization. The fist type of a team is called the top management team. It may be composed of the chief executive officer and all the other executives reporting to him or her. This may be the case for a large organization. Some other organizations have the top management team being made of the managers, supervisors and all the workers that report directly to them.

The top management team influence decision making. Every outcome of the organization will be determined by the top management teams. This is simply because they act as the link between the organization and the environment surrounding that organization. If this link breaks or if the link does not function properly, the organization breaks too. The top management team sets the goals of the organization. In most cases, they will determine the function and course of the entire organization in addition to decision making. They are also supposed to promote responsibility among all the other teams and members of the organization.

The team has a leader whose responsibility is to lead the members of the team. He is supposed to give direction and during deliberations. He explains the team to understand the agenda. It is evident that many organizations are struggling to keep the top management team in order. Many senior officers in an organization do not form teams. All at all, a team effort can bring about the greatest performance in an organization. (Glunk & Olie, 2003).

A self managed team is a team that works in unity and they follow their own approaches. The goals to which they intend to achieve are set by other people who are not in the team. In most cases, the instructions or goals are defined by the top management team. A self managed team will focus on one product or service. Each member in the team contributes some skills that are suitable for the development of that good or service. They do not have a defined leader or manager to lead them and there fore it can be referred to as a elf managed group. They will either choose some one among the group to lead them in a particular sitting.

They will choose or appoint a different leader in the other meeting and this goes on continuously. They rotate to act as managers and at the end of the day every member of the team should act as a manager. This type of team is best for organizations that produce technical products. It can also be reliable to those who offer services that need high level of problem solving. The team members must be trained on their chores to enhance high productivity.

Due to the fact that managers have been eliminated, the skills of the employees are increased, employees are more involved in the operation of the business, employees are trained on management skills thus gaining more knowledge and skills, and employees are highly motivated and therefore work effectively. Some of the disadvantages of this type of teamwork are that decisions take long to be agreed upon and also the employees have increased work load due to the fact that they rotate as far as taking leadership positions is concerned and this means that each employee will have an added responsibility at his or her own appointed time.

The management should go an extra cost of training the members of the team in management. Though this is an added advantage to the employee, the organization goes an extra cost. Remember also that extra training calls for increased salary. (Donald & Seung, 1996).

The research and development team is responsible for the physical and technological advancement of the organization. For example a case study of the Accenture organization shows that the team is the one that brings together the creativity, expertise skills, and experience and business insight to this organization. Through this, the future can be predictable and there fore the business is developed by preparing adequately. This team creates future plans after they have predicted how the future will be improved by their technological advancement. This is generally the work of the research and development team in an organization. (Wiggins, 2009).

The virtual team is another kind of a team in an organization. The members of this team will never meet face to face. They use technology to communicate. This type of a team is mostly used for development of software. The team has a manager who is a team leader. He facilitates the activities of the team through the internet and all activities are carried out in the websites. It works well for experts who are self managed individuals with out any need of supervision. The advantage with this kind of teams is that an organization can hire the best experts in the whole world with out restrictions of distance or geographical location. (Hertel, Geister & Konradt, 2005).

What rules and norms guide the social aspect of a team? In these teams, there are rules and behaviors that lead the members of the group. Human beings as social beings will need some guidelines on how to behave in their groups. These rules may be written. They will guide the members to know what to do, when, and how. Some groups may even have dysfunctional norms. (Baugh & George, 1997)

These are rules that guide the group independently from the organizational rules and goals. They use these norms to achieve the goals of the group. Any new member who joins the group must be socialized accordingly. During this socialization, they learn the rules and norms of the team. It is very important for them to be socialized and this learning of norms and rules by the members continue through out the life of the team. The rules and norms will vary from one group to another and they will mostly define the extend to which members should relate and explain ways of solving any conflict that occurs. (Sosik, Lara, & Megerian, 1999).


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Gibson, B., Randel, E., Earley, P. (2006). Understanding Group Efficacy: An Empirical Test of Multiple Assessment Methods. Group Organization Management, 67-97.

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Wiggins, B.E. (2009). Global teams and media selection. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications (pp. 705-710).

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