Types of Teams Roles, Importance, Limitations

Table of Contents:-

  • Types of Teams
  • What is a Team?
  • Roles of Team Members
  • Importance of Teams
  • Limitations of Teams

Types of Teams

There are four different types of teams, depending on the organisation’s specific needs. However, based on their objectives, the following types are significant:

1) Cross-functional team

It consists of employees from the same hierarchical level but from different work areas who come together to accomplish a task. A task force or a project team falls under this category. Committees are another example of this.

Cross-functional teams effectively allow people from diverse areas within an organisation to exchange information, develop new ideas, solve problems, and coordinate complex projects. The drawbacks are that it is very time-consuming in the early stages of development and takes time to build trust and teamwork among people. Cross-functional teams are made up of individuals from various departments or functional specialities. The key to ensuring the successful performance of cross-functional teams is found in two sets of criteria: one inside the team and one in the organisation at large.

2) Problem-Solving Team

A typical problem-solving team has 5 to 12 members and is formed to discuss ways to improve quality and efficiency in all organisation processes or to enhance the overall work environment. In a problem-solving team, members share ideas and other suggestions on improving methods and work processes, e.g., quality circles.

After the problem-solving team reaches a consensus, it makes suggestions to management about dealing with the specific problem. Management may respond to the recommendations’ total, partial, or modified implementation. Once the problem is solved, the team is disbanded as a temporary team.

3) Self-Managed Work Team

A self-managed work team is a group of 10-15 employees who perform highly interdependent jobs. It plans, organises, influences, and controls its work situation with minimal direction from management. Team members use consensus decision making to solve problems, perform work duties, or deal with internal or external customers. The team performs functions like setting work schedules, dealing directly with external customers, dealing with vendors/suppliers, training, setting performance targets, budgeting, purchasing machinery or outsourcing services, and performing HR functions like staffing, terminating, performance appraisal, etc.

4) Virtual Team

Instead of doing their work face-to-face, as in the case of the above types of teams, virtual teams use computer technology to bind together geographically dispersed members to achieve a common goal. Communication links such as WAN, e-mail, and videoconferencing bring people together for collaborative teamwork, whether they are only a room away or a continent apart.

The core features of a virtual team are goals, people, and links. Clear, precise, and mutually agreed-upon goals are the glue that holds a virtual team together. Secondly, individuals are at the core of a virtual team. As the members of a virtual team are autonomous and self-reliant while simultaneously working collaboratively with others, it requires an enormous amount of trust among the team members. The third core feature of a virtual team is the use of technology-based links to connect members and carry out tasks.

What is a Team?

A team is a group whose members influence one another toward accomplishing organizational objectives. Employee involvement is optimized through the use of teams. However, teams are not a panacea for solving all productivity and quality problems; in most cases, they prove effective. A team is a small group of people with complementary skills committed to a common purpose, shared performance goals, and an approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.

Teams have increasingly become the primary means for organizing work in contemporary business formats. In the organization, an essential function of the manager is to create team spirit among subordinates. The term ‘Team’ is commonly used in group games like cricket, hockey, football, etc.

A group can work together only after all the people know the roles of all others with whom they will interact. All members must be well-prepared to do their jobs. With such understanding, the desire to cooperate with them may become effective in genuine cooperation. Persons can act as team members in all working conditions, depending upon the situation’s needs, without looking at someone to give orders.

Management, through teams, implements TQM. Process improvement is the essence of TQM, and employee involvement is the basis for process improvement. A committed and motivated workforce is necessary to implement TQM principles, and teams offer both ingredients. Employee teams are logical outcomes of employee involvement and empowerment.

Roles of Team Member

Belbin has identified major nine team roles and categorised them into three groups: 

  1. Action-oriented, 
  2. People-oriented, and 
  3. Thought-oriented. 

Each team role is associated with typical interpersonal and behavioural strengths. Belbin also defined characteristic weaknesses that tend to accompany the team role and called these weaknesses “allowable.” As with any behavioural weakness, these are areas to be aware of and potentially improve. The nine team roles are:

1) Action-Oriented Roles

i) Shapers (SH): Shapers are individuals who challenge the team to improve. They are usually extroverted and dynamic, enjoying questioning norms, stimulating others, and finding the best solutions. The shaper ensures that all possibilities are considered, which prevents the team from becoming complacent. Shapers often see obstacles as exciting challenges and dare to persevere when others might quit. However, their potential weaknesses include being argumentative and offending others.

ii) Implementer (IMP): Implementers are the individuals who get things done. They turn the team’s concepts and ideas into practical actions and plans. Implementers are generally conservative, disciplined, and well-organised, working systematically and efficiently. On the downside, they may be inflexible and  resistance to change.

iii) Completer-Finisher (CF): Completer-finishers ensure that projects are thoroughly completed, checking for omissions or errors. They pay attention to all project details, emphasising deadlines and pushing the team to complete work on time. They are described as conscientious, orderly, and anxious perfectionists. However, a Completer-Finisher may worry unnecessarily and need help with delegation.

2) People-Oriented Roles:

i) Coordinator (CO): Coordinators take on the traditional team-leader role, guiding team members toward objectives. They are good listeners, recognise each team member’s value, and effectively delegate tasks. However, their major weakness may be delegating too much personal responsibility and occasionally being manipulative.

ii) Team Worker (TW): Team workers provide support and ensure the team works together. They act as negotiators and are diplomatic, flexible, and wise. While popular and capable, they may need help with indecision and maintaining uncommitted positions during decision-making.

iii) Resource Investigator (RI): Resource Investigators are innovative and curious, developing contacts, exploring options, and negotiating for resources. They work with external stakeholders to help the team achieve objectives. Despite being outgoing and extroverted, they may lose enthusiasm quickly and be overly optimistic.

3) Thought-Oriented Roles:

i) Plant (PL): The Plant is the creative innovator who generates new approaches and ideas. They thrive on praise but find criticism challenging. Plants are often introverted and prefer to work independently. Their novel ideas can be impractical, and they may need help communicating and ignoring constraints.

ii) Monitor-Evaluator (ME): Monitor-Evaluators excel at analysing and evaluating ideas from others. They are intelligent and objective, carefully weighing the benefits and limitations of options before making decisions. Perceived as critical thinkers, they may come across as unemotional or detached and can be poor motivators.

iii) Specialist (SP): Specialists possess specialised knowledge needed for the job. They take pride in their abilities and work to maintain professional status. However, their focus on technicalities may limit their contribution, diverting attention from the bigger picture.

Importance of Teams

Teams play a crucial role in various aspects, contributing to organizational success in the following ways:

1) Increases Employee Satisfaction

Working within a team fosters more significant work interaction and coordination among team members. Individuals in a satisfying team climate tend to cope better with stress and derive more enjoyment from their jobs.

2) Improves Communication

Self-managed teams cultivate interpersonal dependence, necessitating members to interact significantly more than when working on individual tasks. Similarly, cross-functional teams promote inter-functional dependence, thereby enhancing organizational-wide communication.

3) Provides Organizational Flexibility

Teams advocate for cross-training, enabling members to perform each other’s tasks, thereby expanding their skill sets. This increase in skills contributes to organizational flexibility, allowing for the reorganization of work and allocation of workers as needed to meet changing conditions.

4) Increases Employee Motivation

Work teams elevate employee involvement, making jobs more exciting and fulfilling. They also assist employees in meeting their social needs, fostering an environment where people are likely to perform better in the presence of their peers.

5) Enhances Commitment to Goals

Teams encourage individuals to align their personal goals with those of the group. The process of developing a common purpose, committing to that purpose, and agreeing on specific goals, combined with the social pressure exerted by the team, results in a high level of commitment to team goals.

6) Expands Job Skills

The implementation of teams includes expanded job training, allowing employees to build their technical, decision-making, and interpersonal skills.

7) Provides Higher Levels of Productivity

Teams create positive synergy, utilizing this collaborative energy to achieve the same or greater output with fewer people. This translates into a higher level of productivity, showcasing how teams contribute significantly to increased organizational efficiency.

Limitations of Teams

The limitations of teams are outlined as follows:

1) Unequal Participation

In some teams, there may be a tendency for certain members to sit back and let others carry the majority of the workload. This can lead to workplace resentment, especially if the business owner acknowledges only the team’s efforts rather than those of its leaders. Such conflicts can arise, potentially impacting workplace morale.

2) Not Team Players

Some workers who prefer working independently may need help functioning effectively within a team. If the work environment necessitates collaboration for task completion, these individuals, while excellent workers in the right setting, may need help fitting into the team culture, resulting in dissatisfaction.

3) Limiting Creativity

Teamwork may constrain creative thinking, as employees might become overly focused on working for the team’s overall good and adhering to the team concept, potentially sidelining their ideas. This lack of innovative thinking could impede the company’s progress, leading to stagnation.

4) Longer Process

Teams can sometimes take a longer time to achieve desired results. Before completing the assigned task, the team typically undergoes various processes, such as member selection, organization, and socialization. Additionally, teams may result in added expenses, tying up resources like workforce, money, and tools.

5) Inherent Conflict

Whenever a group is assembled to achieve a goal, some conflict is likely. Varied personal styles may clash, and certain members may struggle to accept ideas that differ from their own. Peer pressure can also lead a team member to go against their better judgment either to avoid the disapproval of other team members or to facilitate project completion.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top