We all approach teamwork with our own notions about what makes a team. Our past experiences both clarify and cloud our views. When you find yourself on a team, ask yourself this fundamental question: “What type of team are we?”
Teams come in different shapes and sizes based on:
Direction can come from management or from within the team itself. In a controlled team, management selects the assignment, defines the process and closely monitors the activities. A guided team receives assignments and suggested methods from management, while a self-directed team selects its own assignments and methods.
Membership can be intact or cross-functional. People from the same department or division generally form an intact team. People from different departments, divisions or levels within the company form a cross-functional team. A customer-supplier team expands the membership to other players upstream or downstream from the team’s product or service.
Task can be creating, planning, implementing, or coordinating. Creation teams generate ideas and directions; planning teams coordinate the success of the idea; implementation teams carry out the plan. Your team may have one or all of these tasks to accomplish.
Participation can be either mandatory or voluntary. Ideally, you want to have volunteers, but sometimes you must “select and direct” participation of key individuals with essential knowledge or skills.
Duration can range from a short time to a long life. Temporary teams are formed to handle specific projects, solve a problem, improve a process, innovate a system or implement a plan. Once finished, the team disbands. A permanent team has continuing responsibility for an area or situation. It looks at a variety of issues that are related to a broad, long-term goal. Once the team has finished with one issue, it tackles another.
Location can be in the same place or dispersed to several locations. Members of a geographically dispersed or virtual team are expected to perform as a team even though they are separated in space and time, leveraging many technology tools to enhance team communication.
Obviously, there is no best type of team. Teams are meant to be flexible, dynamic and creative structures that support the organization’s strategy and objectives. However, unless the unique features of the team are defined and agreed upon by team members, different agendas and expectations may pull the team apart.
For more information about elevating your team results, processes and relationships, contact master facilitator, Kristin Arnold at 800.589.4733.
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF | Master, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator. She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 27 years. She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action. Her latest book, 123 Ways to Add Pizazz to a Panel Discussion was published in January 2021.