Teams are an integral part of the success of organizations today. There are various types of teams found within today’s companies, and some teams perform at higher levels than others. The performance of a team can depend largely on its structure. To understand what makes a team operate be effective and productive requires looking at the various types of teams.
Organizations typically developing the following types of teams: manager-led, self-managing, self-designing, and self-governing teams. Not all teams are equally effective for all organizations, and it is important to understand the distribution of authority within the teams.
In the manger-led team, the manager acts as the team leader and is responsible for defining the goals, methods, and functioning of the work team (Thompson, 2011,p. 8). Self-managing teams are similar to manager led teams, but team has more flexibility and the manager acts more like guide. This style of team place more responsibility on the individual members to define how the goals and objectives will be met.
Self-directing teams operate in the absence of a clearly defined leader and the members share responsibility to state objectives and methods to achieve them. The final type of team is a self-governing team. Self-governing teams and boards of directors are usually responsible for executing a task, managing their own performance processes, designing the group, and designing the organizational context (Thompson, 2011,p. 12).
Of the various types of teams an organization can implement, manager led teams are often the most common type of team. This is not to say they are the most efficient or productive, but they offer control and are the cost effective.
In a manager-led team the manager is responsible for the design of organizational context, team design, and monitoring and managing team performance. The team is responsible for the execution of the assigned task. The advantages of a manager-led include but are not limited to: control over the team, work being performed, efficient, and low cost. In providing one clear responsible party for the team decisions can be made more quickly and the team can quickly change its focus. Potential conflicts may also be resolved in a more efficient manner by having a single responsible manager to handle situations as they arise. Everyone looks to the manager for instructions (Denning, 2009). Organizations implement this traditional type of team because it works and to avoid the risk of negative impacts in changing to a new team style.
Manager-led teams are not without their own disadvantages. These types of teams have less autonomy and individual freedoms. The ability of team members to trust that the manager can treat members fairly without showing favoritism can create tension. Manager-led teams are not best suited for detailed assignments and are appropriate for clearly defined tasks. Placing sole responsibility upon the manger can limit particular individual’s ability to grow and develop.
Even though manager-led teams demonstrate several disadvantages they are still the most frequently style of team within organizations. It is difficult to understand why more organizations do not favor using other team types in place of manager-led teams. Research has indicated that manager-led teams are some of the least productive.
The previous chart from The Denning (2009) website indicates that only one other team is performs at a lower rate than manager lead teams. Manager-led teams may have a highly qualified proven leader running the team and still are unable to provide improved results. Manager-led teams require the building of relationships and trust to be successful.
Self-managing teams are fast becoming the management practice of choice for organizations that wish to become more flexible, push decision making to the front lines, and fully use employees’ intellectual and creative capacities (Wageman, 1997, p. 1). Business is a constantly changing environment and they must be prepared to adapt accordingly. Although manager-led teams will likely remain the most traditional team used in business because of their advantages, larger more competitive business see the benefits of slowly transitioning to self-managing teams. These teams are very similar in that both use a manager to lead the team, but more responsibility is given to individual team members. Self-managing teams have the ability to increase productivity, quality, saving and employee morale (Thompson, 2011,p. 9). Employees and managers take more ownership in how the team will function and the methods and practiced used to reach the goals and objectives. Businesses may be reluctant to change the structure largely due to cost. The goal of any business is to make a profit and in an increasingly competitive global business environment there is a reduced appetite for change. Having said that those businesses willing to be more creative and implement self-managing teams could benefit as a result.
The type of business, size of organization, structure, and willingness to take some risk are all factors in determining what type of teams will be best suited for their success. It is possible and often likely that business will implement more than one type of team depending on the area of business. Task oriented functions such as order entry, collections, and shipping are best suited for manager-led teams. Research, design, and marketing would appear to benefit from self-managing or self-directed teams. There is no one size fits all team structure and organizations must have knowledgeable understanding of their employees and customer base.
Thompson, L. L. (2011). Making The Team: A Guide for Managers (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Denning, S. (2009). SteveDenning.com. Retrieved from http://www.stevedenning.com/Radical- Management/most-high-performance-teams-are-self-organizing.aspx Wageman, R. (1997, Summer). Critical SuccessF actors for Creating Superb Self-ManaginTg eams. Corequniverse, (), 1-13.
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